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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

CROSSFIRE Goes INSIDE POLITICS

Aired September 1, 2003 - 15:00   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE GOES INSIDE POLITICS.

Along the campaign trail, Labor Day isn't a holiday. The presidential race is shifting into high gear.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I want to talk about our economy.

ANNOUNCER: We follow President Bush to Ohio.

We'll also talk live with Howard Dean, the Democrat who, at least for some, may be leading the pack of possible replacements.

CROWD: We want Dean! We want Dean! We want Dean!

ANNOUNCER: And the race for California governor. See how Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and some of the top challengers are spending their Labor Day. At least one candidate joins us live.

Plus: debate, analysis, the latest polls, and your chance to fire back, as CROSSFIRE GOES INSIDE POLITICS.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(APPLAUSE)

ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, Judy Woodruff, Paul Begala and tucker Carlson.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thank you for joining us. And welcome to a special combined edition of INSIDE POLITICS and CROSSFIRE.

The political landscape is a blur of activity today, with President Bush and his Democratic challengers all competing for the voters' attention. Later this hour, I will talk live with the Democrat who is generating all the buzz these days, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Then we'll also debate the campaign strategies, who is headed for victory, and who is merely amusing. Some of the savviest political strategists in the country will join us to sort it all out.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: That, they will.

And then also, during the next couple hours, we'll focus on California's recall race. At times, that's pretty amusing itself. At other times, it's just annoying. But it's always interesting. And Election Day California is only 36 days away, all of that, part of our campaign special, CROSSFIRE GOES INSIDE POLITICS.

WOODRUFF: All right.

Well, while most Americans take a break this holiday, the Democratic presidential hopefuls are hard at work wooing potential supporters in Iowa and other key states.

Our coverage begins with our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley. She has a look at how the Democratic race stacks up at the unofficial beginning of the campaign season.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi. How you doing?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Richard Gephardt is campaigning through New Hampshire today. Go tell him this is the kickoff of the '04 campaign. They have been city-hopping, photo- opping, speechifying and debating for more than a year. Of the nine Democrats running for president, only one has made much headway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's my honor and pleasure to introduce to you our next president, Governor Howard Dean.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CROWLEY: Win or lose, '04 is the race that Dean shaped, moving his competition slightly to the left and raising the decibel level several times over. Dean warmed up the party core with his anti-war stance and lit it on fire with his harsh anti-Bush rhetoric.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Borrow and spend, borrow and spend, this is the credit card presidency.

CROWLEY: Dean's asterisk has turned into a star. He leads in Iowa polls, where next-door neighbor Richard Gephardt must win. And he leads in New Hampshire, where John Kerry must stake claim.

But before you run out to buy a bumper sticker, consider this. Nobody's paying much attention. A CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll found, 65 percent of registered Democrats have not been following the race closely. Only 10 percent are watching very closely. Asked about the kind of candidate they're looking for, a majority of Democrats said they want someone who opposed the war. Strike Lieberman, Gephardt, Edwards and Kerry, all of whom voted for the war, most of whom have been, if not exactly backtracking, certainly revamping.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The truth is, the Bush administration went to war without a plan to win the peace in Iraq. It gave presidential sanction to misleading information and is still trying to conceal what happened.

CROWLEY: Six of 10 Democrats want to keep at least some of the Bush tax cuts. Strike Dean, who said he'd repeal every penny. And two-thirds of Democrats want a moderate over a liberal. Exit Braun, Sharpton and Kucinich.

Well, Bob Graham is a well-respected Florida senator, but a national scene footnote whose campaign flounders in the lower tier. Nobody's perfect. But the truth is, there is a palpable glumness among some Democratic operatives who see Dean as too liberal, Kerry too detached, Gephardt too yesterday, Lieberman too soft, Edwards too soon, all others too long-shot. It's the kind of list that has retired General Wesley Clark thinking about joining, the kind of mood that stokes speculation Hillary Clinton or Al Gore may run after all -- no and no, according to both.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: It is the kind of thinking, too, that generally prevails in a wide-open race, nine people cannot compete with one popular, well-financed president, but one person can. And once a candidate becomes a nominee, his stature is immediately elevated. It's Labor Day '03. They've only just begun -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, Candy, those red X's. How do the rest of these Democrats take on Howard Dean?

CROWLEY: Well, there's the rub.

Look, he's very popular among the party faithful and the sort of left-of-center Democrats. And so what they have to do is take him on very carefully. I remember talking to somebody a couple months ago, before Dean's staying power became obvious, and one of the campaigns saying: We're going to let John Kerry take him on, because he's the biggest threat to John Kerry.

Well, now he sort of threatens everybody. So it will be interesting to see in an upcoming debate, which we have this Thursday out in New Mexico, just what the dynamic is going to be, because this is a man who has become quite popular to the Democrats who are paying attention. And all these other Democrats can't afford to alienate those voters. So carefully, but, really, they have to be very strong in taking him on, because that's how races are won.

WOODRUFF: They don't really have any choice.

CROWLEY: No, they don't.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley, thanks very much. She's going to spend a lot of time on the campaign trail in the weeks and the months to come.

Well, the Democrats have used the struggling competent as exhibit A in their criticism of President Bush. Earlier today, Mr. Bush traveled to a battleground state filled with union households and he offered a spirited defense of his economic policies. White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush wasted no time bringing his ambitious agenda to the American people.

BUSH: We want everybody in this country working.

MALVEAUX: With just 15 months away from Election Day, Mr. Bush is facing one of the most important challenges of his administration, getting Americans back to work.

On this Labor Day, nine million Americans don't have jobs. Today, in a rainy Richfield, Ohio, where residents have seen unemployment increase by 60 percent since Mr. Bush took office, the president promised his tax cut and benefits package would turn things around.

BUSH: We're committed to helping those who got a job keep a job and committed to those who are looking for work to find a job. That's the commitment of this Labor Day.

MALVEAUX: This week, Mr. Bush is bringing that message to key battleground states, in Richfield, Ohio, a state with 20 electoral votes he hopes to keep in his column, in Kansas City, Missouri, a state he narrowly won in 2000 and has visited a dozen times, and in Indianapolis, Indiana, a state where he trounced Gore by 16 percentage points and is intent on keeping.

Mr. Bush will continue an ambitious travel schedule in the week to come, raise funds for his campaign and to win support for his agenda. Details of that agenda include getting Congress to pass a comprehensive energy bill, an environmental policy which includes controversial fire-prevention proposals, Medicare reform, legal reform, restrained government spending, and the establishment of free trade agreements overseas.

The president will also take campaign speech opportunities to highlight the progress on the war on terror.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: Now, despite the recent difficulties, the setbacks, in Israel and Iraq, political strategists, Republican strategists, still say that the president's single greatest strength, of course, is his command in the war on terror.

Judy, don't be surprised if you hear him talk about that, the progress of the war, at every speech, at every campaign stop, from now until Election Day -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Suzanne, thank you very much.

Paul, what about -- Bush is out there. He is saying: My tax cuts are going to make a difference. He acts like he's concerned about people out of work. Isn't he, in many ways, inoculating himself against Democratic charges on the economy?

BEGALA: No. What he needs to do is have some new ideas. There ought to be something beyond a tax cut, or maybe more tax cuts. I don't support them.

But a candidate running for reelection has to make an important psychological turn. And Bush did this when he was governor. I watched him run for reelection. And he had three or four new issues for his second term. This president -- we're a year away, but he's not anywhere near that. He's still trying to defend the policies of his first term, instead of articulating new ideas for his second term.

WOODRUFF: Is he capable of coming up

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Well, sure. You also -- I think you need to keep in mind the possibility of, to put it bluntly, future terrorist attacks between now and the election, which is going to raise, in the most vivid possible way, the question of American national security.

And that's ultimately what Bush is going to run on. He's going to be running against someone from the left. The new CBS poll shows two-thirds of Democrats polled couldn't name a candidate, right? They're not paying attention. That means this nominee on the Democratic side is going to be chosen by activists, which means he's probably going to be pretty liberal, which means good news for Bush.

BEGALA: That's not necessarily true at all.

There's no Republican primary at all. And so all those McCain independents who voted Republican last time are going to vote Democratic this time. I think that the primary will be a whole lot more moderate than maybe people like Tucker tend to believe in the Democratic Party.

WOODRUFF: Well, we have got much more to come. Still ahead, I'm going to talk live with Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean.

BEGALA: But next, a couple of top campaign strategists will step into the CROSSFIRE to debate who's all wet and who's on top of their game in the presidential race.

CARLSON: And later, we head for sunny California for a look at who is going to rain on Governor Gray Davis' parade. So grab a refill and hurry back. It's going to be an action-packed two hours.

We'll be right back.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: All you can do is hope and wait that things get worse. You go to bed every night saying, I hope more of my fellow Americans get thrown out of work so I can elect a Democrat, because that's the only chance you got, is bad economic news.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Bob, I'm holding him accountable. I hope George W. Bush gets thrown out of work, so three million Americans who he has thrown out of work can get their jobs back.

(CROSSTALK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: That's a cute way of putting it, Paul. But the fact of the matter is, when a political party only relies on bad news, it's in trouble.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Well, you just heard it. That was the Democratic presidential strategy 2004.

Welcome back to our CNN campaign special, CROSSFIRE GOES INSIDE POLITICS.

In the state of Ohio today, a soggy, but enthusiastic crowd heard President Bush recap all of the hurdles the U.S. economy has overcome in the past few years. The president says his goal is to make certain every American has a job. But will he get to keep his? That's our debate.

Stepping into the CROSSFIRE, Democratic strategist Tony Coelho. He's also a former congressman from the state California; and also from the left coast, Republican Dan Lungren, a former congressman who has also served as California's attorney general.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Gentlemen, thank you both on a holiday coming in. We deeply appreciate it.

It is Labor Day. This is a day when union members like myself thank the American labor movement for all that they've done for our country. And let me recap just a few: the minimum wage, the 40-hour week, overtime, worker health and safety regulations, all of them, by the way, now opposed by President Bush. He opposes raising the minimum wage. He wants to repeal overtime laws. And the first law he signed into enactment was repealing worker safety laws.

Can you name me, Dan Lungren, a single time in his presidency that George Bush has stood up against corporate power to help working men and women?

DAN LUNGREN, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Oh, I don't think there's any doubt that George Bush has talked about what we need to do to reform the corporate governance in this country, to make sure that we are on the right track in that direction.

But more fundamentally important is what are the two key issues, I think, that are going to be considered in the next presidential election. And No. 1 is going to be the safety of the American people. That question, the way this president responded to the terrorist attack, was more important than any other single thing.

It is sometimes a question of whether the man makes the moment or the moment makes the man. In this particular case, under these circumstances, I don't think there's any doubt that the American people, working men and women in America, believe that the right choice was made in the last presidential election. And there would be a huge difference between our response to 9/11 under this president or under his opponent at that time. So he's going to be judged in part on his record.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: So the smarter and more experienced guy would have done a worse job?

LUNGREN: Pardon me?

BEGALA: The smarter and more experienced guy, who got more votes, would have done a worse job on 9/11? Help me out, Dan.

(APPLAUSE)

LUNGREN: You haven't gotten over your tendency for personal attacks. The question is...

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: I said Gore is smart. What are you talking about?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

LUNGREN: How has this president responded to the greatest issue that was presented to him in his presidency? He responded with courage, with direction, with leadership.

Now, could you have forecast that beforehand? I don't think so, necessarily. So the people are going to say, how did he do and how is he going to do with those challenges that are coming up? And I don't think you can say that terrorism is on the back shelf or that leadership in the international arena is second place to any other issue that's going to confront the American people.

CARLSON: Tony, I want to bring you in.

TONY COELHO, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Can I not answer the question you asked, just like he did? I thought it was great.

(APPLAUSE) CARLSON: Actually, I'm going to force you to answer.

LUNGREN: Tony taught me well.

CARLSON: But this is not a pointed question. This is an honest question. The CBS News poll we were just talking about showed pretty much what you would expect it to show, most voters not paying attention, particularly most Democrats.

Two-thirds polled never even heard or could not name a single Democratic candidate. Doesn't this show -- and I think you'll agree -- that this nominee is going to be chosen by activists? We're seeing a trend left. Isn't this nominee going to probably be more liberal?

COELHO: Tucker, you're smarter than that question implies, because, if you did just a little research, you would have found that four years ago, there were...

CARLSON: Spare me, Tony. It's a reasonable question.

COELHO: Four years ago, there were less people involved, less people knowing the candidates than today. So, actually, if I want to reinterpret your numbers, I would say, my God, 2 percent more people know the candidates running for president in 2004 than they did in 2000. So those numbers mean nothing.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Not that I even understand what you just said, but let me ask you a more specific question, and perhaps you can answer this one.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Al Sharpton tied in that poll with John Kerry, beating Edwards and Graham. You'll probably dismiss him. I don't think you should. He may do well in South Carolina, for instance. He's been there 13 times, more than anybody else.

He will show up with delegates at the convention. Isn't he going to be a power broker in party? Isn't he someone Democrats are going to have to listen to after this election, Al Sharpton?

COELHO: You've asked me that question three times on this show.

CARLSON: Just take it seriously.

COELHO: And the point is -- I take it seriously every time.

If he gets enough votes, yes, he will be a power broker. If he doesn't, he won't be. It's that simple. You're trying to make an issue out of Mr. Sharpton. I don't know why.

CARLSON: Just trying to get an answer from you, Tony.

(CROSSTALK) COELHO: He just wants to wants run for president, has every right to run for president, just like everybody else.

But I think the question in that CBS poll that you ought to pay attention to is that, when asked, 38 percent of the respondents said that they would vote for George Bush. And over 50 percent said that they wanted somebody new. If I were the White House, I would be concerned, because that number has gone up by 10 points in only the last two weeks.

BEGALA: Well, and I think they are plainly concerned, Dan. And I think that's why, for example, a gifted political leader like yourself takes a question about the minimum wage and economic issues and waves the flag and talks about 9/11, because that is where this president retreats when he's in political trouble. He tries to politicize the war.

So let me ask you, as a political issue, is he more vulnerable on foreign policy because he misled us going into the war or because he's botched the occupation after the war?

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

LUNGREN: In the law, we would ask the judge to say that you've assumed facts not in evidence.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: OK, well, give me counterfacts, then.

LUNGREN: The fact of the matter is, this president has not looked the other way in terms of responding to terrorism, as did the previous administration, I would suggest, or at least they were feeble in their response.

Secondly, this president has been leading this country in a direction to respond to that which is out there not just the next day, the next month, the next year, but has suggested that the world landscape has changed and we must change with it.

BEGALA: Well, I understand that.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I guess let me try again. The question is, most Americans believe the president misled us going into the war and...

LUNGREN: I don't believe that's true.

BEGALA: Well, I'll tell you, not today's CNN poll, but an earlier one this summer said 50 percent George Bush is not a leader we can trust before anymore, because they believe he misled us. Isn't that a problem for this president, who bases so much of his appeal on waving the flag on national defense? LUNGREN: If this president were worried and led based on the poll of the moment, yes, he'd be in trouble. He does not lead by the poll of the moment.

He looks at the facts are that are presented to him and he responds to that. The fact of the matter is, it is a different world. We are going to try as hard as we can -- and this administration has led us in that direction -- to try and prevent as many attacks as possible. But there is a certainty in this world. And that is, there are going to be other attacks in the future.

The question is, how do we respond to that? The question is do we provide leadership or are we shrinking from leadership? The landscape has changed. I would grant you this. If we were not in this situation internationally, this president would have a different problem on his hands politically, which would be the state of the economy. But the economy is beginning to move, and that is moving in his direction.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: On that, I just want to ask Tony Coelho, related to that, I think Mr. Lungren makes a point we can all agree with. It's a different world post-9/11. John Kerry, Senator Kerry of Massachusetts, made that exact same point yesterday on "Meet the Press" when asked about a question about the front-runner, Howard Dean of Vermont.

And he said -- quote -- "Howard Dean has zero experience in international affairs. This is a moment to make America safer, stronger and more secure. I have years of experience doing that."

There's no arguing with that. Wouldn't the Democratic Party be making a pretty serious mistake in nominating a man with no international experience at this point in history?

COELHO: Well, I think there was a guy by the name of George W. Bush who had no international experience.

(CROSSTALK)

COELHO: And you are talking about how great he is.

But what different does it make? If George W. Bush could become a good president, then why couldn't Howard Dean? I love it when you take on Howard Dean. I love it when John Kerry takes on Howard Dean. All they're doing is building the guy up. If they really want to knock the guy down, ignore him. But, basically, they're building him up.

BEGALA: Sound advice. Tony Coelho, keep your seat. Dan Lungren, keep your seat.

Both of these guys, by the way, used to be California congressman. So when we come back after a break, we'll switch our attention to that wonderful 135-ring circus called the California recall.

Stay with us.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: I think -- I mean, the word is that on the "Jay Leno" show tonight, Schwarzenegger is going to say no. This has now become the most expensive joke in California history. It's going to cost $60 million to try to overturn a perfectly valid election. This is what Republicans do. They don't believe in democracy, so they try to overturn elections. It's an outrage.

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Well, I think you don't realize is that, if the people really hate Gray Davis enough to get rid of him, maybe you ought to listen to the voice of the people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(APPLAUSE)

WOODRUFF: People get together to celebrate holidays like Labor Day. And large groups, naturally, attract candidates.

That was the case in California today. Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger stopped at the California State Fair. Several candidates have criticized his economic plan and his refusal to attend a debate this week. And Schwarzenegger told CNN last hour that he will only participate in one debate before the election.

The man who wants to remain governor, Gray Davis, is working to polish his tarnished image. He began at a mass in Los Angeles and then campaigned with labor leaders in the Bay area.

Our Charles Feldman is tracking the race.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the worldwide press corps turning out in large numbers even for small events, Arnold Schwarzenegger continues to dominate, even drive, media coverage, even though his mostly photo-op events, sparsely spaced out, leave almost no opportunity for reporters to ask him hard questions.

CROWD: Arnold! Arnold!

FELDMAN: Almost a month after announcing his bid for the governorship, Schwarzenegger has had only one full-fledged news conference. And even that was all but devoid of details.

With no political track record, the actor-turned-politician, in the view of many, has the most to explain about his stance on various issues. Schwarzenegger's camp this weekend said he would not take part in the first gubernatorial debate Wednesday, too many requests for his time, they argue. Democrat Gray Davis, fighting to keep his job, will get a boost this week in the most popular Democrat in the state of California.

Davis says Senator Dianne Feinstein will appear in TV commercials deriding the recall and highlighting the governor's accomplishments. Schwarzenegger was first out of the gate with TV spots. But he and the other candidates are finding that they don't need to spend as much on TV as they might have thought because of all the free news coverage. Think of the recall as a primary and election all rolled into one and you have a better idea about what's going on here.

Schwarzenegger is not only trying to unseat Governor Davis and stop the lieutenant governor, Cruz Bustamante, from getting the job. He also has to fend off challenges from his own Republican Party, trying to make sure that Peter Ueberroth, Tom McClintock and independent Arianna Huffington don't take enough voters away from him to become spoilers.

The last "L.A. Times" poll released the end of August showed Democrat Bustamante beating Schwarzenegger. But that was before Republican businessman Bill Simon dropped out of the race. "L.A. Weekly" political editor Harold Meyerson says, although the recall effort was started by Republicans, there's a strong possibility the effort could backfire.

HAROLD MEYERSON, "L.A. WEEKLY": Now you have the recall, another Republican brainstorm, yet there is a distinct possibility that it could, indeed, elect the lieutenant governor, Cruz Bustamante, and catapult him into being certainly not only the first Latino governor of the state since the middle of the 1800s, but the most prominent Latino in the Democratic Party.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FELDMAN: And then, as always, there is the matter of money. A few years back, Californians voted for strict campaign funding measures. But the candidates and their campaign committees have found so many loopholes that so-called contribution limits are, say some political insiders, all but a joke -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: The numbers are all over the place.

All right, Charles Feldman, thanks very much.

So that's a quick look at the California race. Now let's take it back to Tucker and Paul.

BEGALA: Thank you, Judy.

We're putting the California recall in the CROSSFIRE. Both of our guests are former congressmen from the Golden State. They are Republican Dan Lungren. He also served as California's attorney general. And with him, former Democratic Congressman from California Tony Coelho.

CARLSON: Tony, yesterday, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante described Arnold Schwarzenegger as divisive because Schwarzenegger may have supported Proposition 187 some years ago that denied welfare benefits, social services, to illegal immigrants.

Most Hispanics in California supported 187. Maybe you can explain to me why illegal immigrants deserve social services and why it's divisive to say they're not deserving of them.

COELHO: Well, I think that, to a great extent, what you have here is the Hispanic voter was -- there was some attempt to try to attract them towards the Schwarzenegger campaign.

He basically has been against what the Hispanic community wants out in California. As a result, he's been playing it both ways. And Cruz Bustamante yesterday was basically calling it on him.

CARLSON: Wait. The Hispanic community doesn't want illegal immigrants to get welfare.

COELHO: How do you know that?

CARLSON: Because all the polls around 187 showed it got majority of Latino support in the state. That's how.

COELHO: Well, but, actually, what has happened, that became the rallying cry with the Hispanic community against Pete Wilson. And it became a major issue with the Hispanic community with Republicans out in California.

And, as a result, it became a big, big plus for Democrats. And what is happening here is that Pete Wilson is having way too much influence on Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign.

BEGALA: Dan Lungren, when you were attorney general of your state in California, you famously led a raid on the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club.

LUNGREN: Right.

BEGALA: How does that make you feel, as an anti-drug conservative, to see Arnold Schwarzenegger in the documentary "Pumping Iron" flamboyantly smoking marijuana? And now he's the one your party has turned to. Does that bother you?

LUNGREN: Well, what bothers me is that people would take something that's 29 or 30 years old and try and present it now as the total sum and substance of a particular individual. People can change. Schwarzenegger has said he's a different person than he was 25, 30 years ago.

BEGALA: OK. So the Lungren position is that AIDS patients and cancer patients can't use medicinal marijuana, but weight lifters in movies a long time ago can?

LUNGREN: No, no, no. my position has been very clear.

(APPLAUSE)

LUNGREN: My position was very clear at the time. As the attorney general of the state of California, I was required to enforce the law, which I did.

Secondly, I have been among those who have said we ought to do medical studies to see whether or not there is an efficacy with respect to the use of marijuana for patients who can't use anything else, rather than putting the cart before the horse, in which you say, let's make it legal and let's do the studies later on. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get the support to get those studies done as early as I wanted.

If, in fact, it is the only medicinal -- if there are medicinal purposes for it and if it is the only alternative that's available, then it ought to be managed just like any other prescription drug. But the fact of the matter is, the Cannabis Buyers Club was an outlaw organization that literally had children in there and infants in the smoking room. There were purchases of marijuana to adults who went right out the door and sold it to teenagers on the street.

We responded to an illegal activity. I'd do it again tomorrow if it was illegal.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Yes, but Tony Coelho, Governor Gray Davis took a camera crew with him to church yesterday morning, part of his campaign to talk about his relationship with god. He explains that god is on his side in the recall. Does it bother you to see a liberal Democrat talk like Jerry Falwell?

COELHO: Or like George W. Bush. Is there something wrong with George...

CARLSON: Well, you've attacked...

(CROSSTALK)

COELHO: I have never attacked George W. Bush about talking about his religion, and I would never do it. And I don't know why you're attacking Gray Davis and you support George W. Bush. I think that the issue basically is you have a right to -- if you're very strong in your religion, then go ahead and talk about it.

BEGALA: Dan Lungren, we're almost out of time. One last quick question: Howard Dean opposes new gun control laws, Arnold Schwarzenegger supports new gun control. Who do you agree with, Howard Dean or Arnold Schwarzenegger?

LUNGREN: Wait a second. What law are you talking about? Are you talking about federal laws, are you talking about state laws?

BEGALA: I'm talking about registration for handguns. (CROSSTALK)

LUNGREN: ... laws that are effective?

BEGALA: Do you support new gun control like Arnold Schwarzenegger or do you oppose it like Howard Dean? It's a simple question.

LUNGREN: I do not support new gun control.

BEGALA: So you're a Howard Dean Republican? Dan Lungren, former attorney general of the state, the man who ran against Gray Davis the first time around. Tony Coelho, former congressman from California, thank you both very much.

Now back to Judy.

(APPLAUSE)

WOODRUFF: We're watching them get pinned down here. All right. We're going to turn our attention back to presidential politics.

Just head, Joe Lieberman prepares to unveil his health care proposal. How much is it going to cost? How will he pay for it? That is next in our "Campaign News Daily."

Also, Howard Dean joins us live from Iowa. Find out how he plans to keep the momentum behind his surging campaign. Our special edition of INSIDE POLITICS and CROSSFIRE returns after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in our Labor Day edition of our "Campaign News Daily," Democratic hopeful's John Kerry and Joe Lieberman plan to hit the airwaves this week. The two candidates are expected to debut their first TV ads of the 2004 campaign.

Gephardt, not surprisingly, plans to unveil his spot in New Hampshire and Iowa. Joe Lieberman will unveil his health care plan tomorrow in Maryland. CNN has learned that the plan is projected to cost about $55 billion per year over the first five years. It is designed to cover 31 million of the 41 million people currently uninsured. Lieberman would pay for his plan by repealing tax cuts for upper income Americans.

The Democrats' emphasis on labor doesn't end on Labor Day. The Democratic presidential candidates are expected to address next weekend's conference of the Service Employees International Union here in Washington. The SEIU bills itself as the nation's largest and fastest growing union with 1.5 million members.

There's much more ahead as "Crossfire Goes Inside Politics," including my interview with Howard Dean from dark horse to one of the front runners among the Democrats.

And in our second hour, we will check the numbers. Bill Schneider on what the polls are telling us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, CROSSFIRE: Howard Dean could be your nominee. I'll know he's arrived when Paul Begala starts saying really nice things about him.

BEGALA: I say nice things about all the Democrats. I'll know he's arrived when Bob Novak start as tacking him. He is definitely in the top tier of candidates and he's going to be treated as such. He has a very impressive performance on the fund-raising.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Possible voters and everyone else will be seeing more of Howard Dean soon. The Democrat is launching TV spots in six states this week. The doctor turned governor, now presidential candidate, is leading the Democratic pack in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire. He's taking a break from campaigning in Iowa this afternoon to join us.

Governor, thank you for being with us.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Judy. And hello, GW. Thanks for all the help you're giving us, too.

WOODRUFF: Well, we want to ask you first about taxes. Yesterday, Senator John Kerry said, "When you look at Howard Dean's position on taxes, on repealing the Bush tax cuts, what he really wants to do is raise taxes on the middle class." In fact, he said, "If you're a $40,000 a year income earner, Howard Dean is going to raise your taxes more than 20 times."

What do you say to John Kerry?

DEAN: Well, I think it sounds like John's using the Bush Treasury Department's numbers, which we know are cooked. The bottom line is this: what Democrats can't afford to do is what Democrats have done in the past, promise everything to everybody.

What I want to do is fund special ed, have a health care plan that's comprehensive, which actually costs about as much as Senator Kerry's does, although it's a little more comprehensive, and begin to invest in America so we can have jobs in this country again. Now, we discover that when you crunch the numbers, you can't do that unless you get rid of the Bush tax cuts.

So I guess my retort is, if you're not in favor of getting rid of all the Bush tax cuts, tell me what you don't want to do. But don't go and tell us you're going to balance the budget, promise them everything, because people don't believe that from politicians anymore. And that's why we're doing well, is because we're not going to say things that aren't true.

WOODRUFF: But taxes would go up on the middle class, right?

DEAN: Taxes will go up on the middle class? Let me tell you about taxes on the middle class. This president has raised taxes on the middle class indirectly. Forty-eight percent of the people in this country got less than $100 on the tax break.

Let's talk to the GW students. Has your tuition gone up a lot? Has your Pell Grant gone down? Because the president cut Pell Grants in order to fund taxes.

WOODRUFF: All right.

DEAN: Most middle class people, whatever they got, are paying more in local taxes and college tuition than they ever got from the president. All I want to do is reduce people's property taxes and level out the income tax rate. Most Americans would gladly pay the same taxes they were paying when Bill Clinton was president if only they could have the same economy they had when Bill Clinton was president.

(APPLAUSE)

WOODRUFF: All right. Governor, I want to ask you about a couple things. As you've done better in your campaign, you have changed or modified your position on a couple of different issues. For example, on social security, you once talked about raising the retirement age to 70. A few months ago, you said you'd consider raising it to 68.

Now you say that's not an option. That you can find another way to fix Social Security.

DEAN: Sure. I don't think there's anything different...

WOODRUFF: I was just going to say, when it comes to the trade embargo -- go ahead.

DEAN: Well, I don't think there's anything different than I've done than anybody else. Some of the people who have gone after me on that have had their own prescriptions, for example, for means testing Social Security or raising the retirement age and looking at different things. You have an obligation to look at different things.

Bill Clinton proved that if the economy goes well, you take in more payroll taxes and you don't have to raise the retirement age. What we may have to do, however, is eliminate or reduce -- excuse me, increase the cap on wages. Right now, a CEO who gets $40 million pays the same Social Security tax as somebody who makes $86,000. That doesn't make any sense. That's how you can fix Social Security if you have to fix it.

WOODRUFF: But my question, Governor, is not just on this, but on the trade embargo with Cuba, which you once said should be undone and now you said you're still in favor. Should voters expect you to continue to change positions as you're more successful in this campaign? DEAN: Let's see what I did say about Cuba. What I said is, in general, I think we ought to deal with the removal of the embargo gradually in return for human rights concession. I said that about six months ago.

Since that time, Castro has locked up an enormous number of human rights dissidents for very lengthy terms. It seems to me that this is not the right time to reduce the embargo on Cuba it if it ends up having the appearance of rewarding Castro for even more repressive behavior. I think in the long run, it is a good idea to enter into constructive engagement with Cuba, but we should not do it now.

Look, I'm not ashamed to change positions that I have if the facts dictate that they ought to be changed. The hallmark of this administration is, if you have a fact that contradicts your theory, you throw the fact out. I'm a doctor. I don't throw out facts, I throw out theories.

(APPLAUSE)

WOODRUFF: All right. Let me ask you about something else that John Kerry said. John Kerry said "Howard Dean has zero international experience." And he went on to say that you've really never explained how you would have dealt with Saddam Hussein, how you would have held him accountability.

Can you explain in a nutshell? John Kerry says he doesn't understand.

DEAN: I can tell you exactly what I said from the beginning is that Saddam should be removed by U.N. forces. And in the meantime, we should contain him.

Look, I've been in more than 50 countries, which is more than the president of the United States will have been in by next November. I have more foreign policy experience than Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush did when they took over the presidency. And let me tell you something else. I figured out with my foreign policy team as an outsider that George Bush wasn't being candid about the purchase of uranium from Africa, that he wasn't being candid about Saddam Hussein making a deal with al Qaeda.

There are more people from al Qaeda now in Iraq attacking us than there were when Saddam Hussein lived there. If I could figure that out, and all the other major candidates were being misled, I don't think we want that kind of foreign policy experience in the White House. We need somebody who can see through misinformation and make tough decisions.

WOODRUFF: Governor, let me also -- I want to also ask you about -- you know, you are doing well, we know. We've said this in Iowa, in New Hampshire, some key early states. But there is some veteran political observers in the south.

A man named Farrell Gilary (ph) who was a veteran reporter in North Carolina, he's now a professor at the university there, who says when it comes to the rest of the country -- and I'm quoting him -- he says "another northeastern liberal, the prospect is that it could be just another Dukakis or McGovern landslide for Republicans. The way that Republicans could treat him and depict him could set the stage for landslides that could take Democrats down in the south."

Are you worried about having that effect on your own party?

DEAN: No, actually, I'm not. As a matter of fact, I balance budgets. No Republican president has balanced the budget in 34 years in this country. You can't trust them with your money.

The South lost tons of jobs as well. And my position on guns, because I'm from a rural state, is much more conservative than other Democrats will be. So I think I'll do better in the South than most other Democratic candidates, and I think we need to have somebody who will do well in the South.

WOODRUFF: One other quick question, governor. You said some time ago that it would be a big issue if any Democrat were to opt out of spending limits and raise money without any limit on the amount that could be raised and spent. Now we understand that you were seriously considered doing this yourself. Is this -- again, is this another example of saying one thing and turning around and doing something different?

(APPLAUSE)

DEAN: Well, let's look at what really happened. I was speaking of someone who was able to self-finance their campaign. George Bush has gone outside the limits to finance his campaign with $2,000 donations.

We're financing our campaign and doing it better than any other Democrat with $58 average donations. The only way to beat this president is to get a lot of people to give you $58. That's exactly what we're going to do.

So I'm not -- we're not going to do this to win the Democratic nomination. Because I don't think we're going to have to do it. But we may have to do it to beat George Bush if we can do it. And I'm going to beat George Bush, and I don't care what it takes.

(APPLAUSE)

WOODRUFF: All right. I was going to ask you, Governor, if you think you're going to win the nomination. But obviously if you think you'll win the election, presumably you think you're going to win the nomination.

Thank you very much, Governor.

When we return, we're going to have more questions for Howard Dean, including questions from our studio audience. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: All right. Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean is with us from Iowa City, Iowa. And let's turn now to the audience here at George Washington University to find out what they want to know from the candidate. All right. First question for Governor Dean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. My name is Anthony Deangelo (ph), and I'm from Florida. I'm a student at American University. My question for you, Dr. Dean, is, with so much of the country and your party leaning towards the centrist point of view, how do you plan on appealing to the center while still adhering to your left-leaning views?

DEAN: Well, I am a centrist. I balance budgets. Nobody else in this race other than Bob Graham has ever balanced a budget.

My position on guns is that -- we have no gun control in Vermont. My position on guns is we ought to enforce the federal laws and then let states decide how much or little gun control they want. I also believe in health insurance for every single American and I believe in jobs again in this country.

I think that makes me a centrist, and I think that's how we're going to beat George Bush. George Bush is not in the mainstream of where American politics are. And I think most Americans believe in fiscal conservatism. I've exhibited that.

Most Americans believe in social progressivism. I've exhibited that. And that's how we're going to beat George Bush.

WOODRUFF: All right. Another question for Governor Dean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Dean, hi. Bill Reilly (ph) from Nashburn (ph), Virginia. You've clearly been against the war in Iraq. If you became president today, in what way would you change our current military involvement in Iraq?

DEAN: I would begin immediately to bring in United Nations troops, NATO troops, and some Arabic-speaking troops, preferably from places like Egypt and Morocco, who are strong allies of the United States. By doing that, we'll be able to bring our guard and reserve troops home and be able to reduce the tour of duty to six months again.

We need to internationalize the occupation of Iraq. Because if we don't, we're going to continue to be the victims of al Qaeda's attacks and other attacks in Iraq. We can't leave Iraq. We can't pull out, because if we do that, chaos ensues or else a fundamentalist Shiite regime may arise with undo Iranian influence, both of which would be more dangerous than Saddam Hussein.

So in order to preserve our national security situation, we need to continue the rebuilding of Iraq. But it can't be done solely by Americans.

(APPLAUSE) WOODRUFF: All right. Governor Howard Dean joining us today from Iowa City, Iowa. Governor, we're going to let you go back on the campaign trail. We thank you very much for joining us today. We appreciate it.

DEAN: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you.

All right. Paul and Tucker -- Tucker, you said you were taking notes. What struck you about what he had to say?

CARLSON: Well, a couple of things. I mean, just the sadness of a radical entering the mainstream. I mean only -- truly. Only a radical would say something like, maybe we ought to raise the Social Security age to 70. Well, maybe we ought to. But now that Mr. Dean is doing well, you see him backtracking, and that's too bad.

The second thing that really struck me was how maybe unserious he is about foreign policy. He said a moment ago to you that we should have removed Saddam Hussein with U.N. troops. What U.N. troops? What does that mean, exactly?

To say that yes, we should remove Saddam Hussein but it should be done by U.N. troops, that's just not -- that doesn't strike me as a real position. I was sort of stunned by that.

BEGALA: Actually, you won't be surprised that I have the exact opposite take. I thought he spoke about foreign policy with a seriousness and a sensibility that certainly Governor Bush at this stage of his campaign lacked, and I frankly think President Bush today still lacks.

I think Governor Dean, when he talked about internationalizing it, bringing in troops, he actually happens to know where Egypt and Morocco are, which I find illustrative. And I think he made a lot of sense.

I think that he seemed a little defensive when you were pinning him down on the tax issue, but he very counter-intuitively to me seemed most self-assured talking about the occupation. I actually believe the election may be more turning on foreign policy and this disastrous occupation than it will the tax issue. And so I was really impressed with how solid his footing seemed to be on foreign policy.

CARLSON: Well, unfortunately, we are out of time. There will be more Howard Dean to come. Needless to say, another whole hour of "Crossfire Goes Inside Politics" is coming up.

Stay with us for a new nationwide poll that shows, believe it or not, Howard Dean is, in fact, not at the top of the Democratic field. In fact, he's not even running second. Do you believe the numbers? We'll find out.

Plus, even more on the California meltdown in progress. It turns out that the state is every bit as crazy as they always said it was. Happy Labor Day. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is a CNN campaign special presentation: "Crossfire Goes Inside Politics."

It's Labor Day. But it's no holiday from campaigning for President Bush and his Democratic rivals. We'll take a look at some new poll numbers as we kick off the race for the White House.

It's a crowded field. So what do the nine candidates need to do to stand out from the pack? Some of the top people running the campaigns weigh in.

Their numbers are declining. But does big labor still deliver big votes and bucks?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been tougher for unions to make the argument to candidates that they can bring out the voters.

ANNOUNCER: Taking off the gloves in California.

LT. GOV. CRUZ BUSTAMANTE (D), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: And he's not going to get a pass from me. We're going to take him on.

ANNOUNCER: The recall free-for-all gets uglier.

"Crossfire Goes Inside Politics" live from the George Washington University. Judy Woodruff, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(APPLAUSE)

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us again. In this hour of our campaign special we will look at the results of a new nationwide poll covering the Democratic presidential candidates. You may be surprised at whose leading the pack and who isn't.

BEGALA: We will also compare notes with strategists and ask them what the poll says about the top three Democratic campaigns.

CARLSON: And then September, which starts today, marks the start of the debate season in the California recall. We will help set the stage for that.

WOODRUFF: All right. From Iowa to New Hampshire, it continues to be a very busy Labor Day on the presidential campaign trail. Six of the nine Democratic hopefuls are in Iowa, home, of course, to the January caucuses. Several candidates took part in the Des Moines Labor Day parade, and then they headed to a post-parade rally at the state fairgrounds.

A parade was also on the agenda for John Kerry in New Hampshire. He plans to formally re-launch his campaign tomorrow with a two-day trip through four states.

Dick Gephardt also in New Hampshire this afternoon. Gephardt attended a breakfast with union members. And later, he, too, shook hands with parade goers.

President Bush, meantime, made his own Labor Day appeal to American workers. He traveled to vote-rich Ohio where he defended his tax cuts and he pledged to reduce unemployment in a speech to a largely union audience.

Well, considering how busy all of these candidates are, our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, has some interesting new poll results to share with us. Bill, first of all, is the public paying any attention to the campaign yet?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: No. According to a new CBS News poll, two-thirds of Democrats, two-thirds, cannot name a single one of those nine Democrats who are now running for president. But give them a list and let's see what happens.

Joe Lieberman comes out on top. Of course, he was Al Gore's running mate. Dick Gephardt comes in second. He ran for president before. Howard Dean and John Kerry are the only other contenders in double digits.

So how can Dean be seen as the front-runner? Well, here's how. Dean is running ahead of Gephardt, the local favorite in Iowa. If Gephardt loses Iowa, he's finished. And Dean is running ahead of John Kerry, the local favorite in New Hampshire. If Kerry loses New Hampshire, he's finished.

Then what? Who's left to stop Dean? Lieberman and Edwards might make a showing in more conservative states, like Arizona and South Carolina, but neither one looks like a strong contender right now. Democrats who want to stop Dean can't find a candidate. That's why they're given to fantasizing about getting, oh, say Hillary Clinton to run.

WOODRUFF: But Bill, my question is, how formidable a candidate is President Bush going to be for whichever Democrat emerges from these primaries?

SCHNEIDER: Well Judy, here's some news. Bush looks beatable. His rating on Iraq, we can see coming up right here, is still pretty strong, but it's been going down as the situation there begins to look more chaotic. And he looks more and more vulnerable on the economy.

Put together a message that says, why are we spending $1 billion a week on Iraq when two million jobs have been lost in this country, and you may have a real contest. But only if the Democrats can come up with an appealing candidate. Pit President Bush against an unnamed Democrat, and he wins. Though only with a bare majority.

But don't most voters think it's a foregone conclusion that Bush is going to be re-elected? No, they don't. Only 38 percent believe that's a sure thing. Fifty percent believe a Democrat can win. WOODRUFF: All right. We've heard it from Bill Schneider.

So Tucker, is the president as vulnerable as Bill's numbers seem to suggest?

CARLSON: Well, sure. Absolutely. I mean, I think the combination of Iraq and the economy, I mean, you can almost plug it into a mathematical formula and tell you, yes, he can be beaten. But again, the question -- this is a cliche, but true -- who is he going to be beaten by?

Do you really think that Howard Dean, if he's the nominee -- and if you're going to bet, you'd have to bet he would be -- is going to beat George W. Bush in the general election? I must say, it's hard to see. So he doesn't lose in a vacuum, he has to lose in real life. And it's different.

BEGALA: It's hard to see because we're a year away from the start of the campaign. It's not a free-for-all, it's not an open seat. An incumbent president's re-election campaign is a two-step, a Texas two-step, if you will.

The first step is, do we put the job up for bid? With Ronald Reagan, with Bill Clinton, the answer was no. And so it didn't really matter what Walter Mondale said. It didn't matter what Bob Dole said. We wanted to keep the president we had.

Bill's numbers right now tell me that the people want to put the job up for bid. It doesn't mean it's over for Bush, but he doesn't have the commanding sort of lead that a Reagan or a Clinton had in their reelections.

WOODRUFF: But he's still got a lot of ammunition. He's got the incumbency, the economy. It's starting to look like it's turning around. Jobs are still a problem.

Iraq clearly is a problem. But it seems to me much of this is out of the president's hands. What do you think?

CARLSON: I don't know. I mean, I really believe that ultimately this campaign is about who protects America better. And that swing voters particularly are going to be moved by that question. If they think you're not going to protect them and their families, they're absolutely not going to vote for you. So the Democratic Party has to put forth a candidate who is plausible on that question, and they haven't.

SCHNEIDER: Well, you have to put the point across that an acceptable candidate for those voters who say they can't support Bush. You know there's two rules. One is, any election with an incumbent is a referendum on the incumbent. But look at what happened to Gray Davis in California.

He got reelected last year with a negative approval rating because the voters found his opponent implausible. And the result is he got reelected without a majority, and now he's being almost -- well, could be fired. So if the Democrats can't put across a plausible alternative, which the Republicans could not do last year in California, Bush could be re-elected even though a lot of voters say we'd rather have an alternative.

WOODRUFF: Paul, isn't there a chance the Democrats might fall short?

BEGALA: Well, there's always a chance in my party.

WOODRUFF: Well, I mean not being able to present a candidate who is seen by the American people as a plausible alternative.

BEGALA: Again, the problem is, even among Democrats, Bill's poll says two-thirds aren't even looking at the race yet. I worked for Bill Clinton in 1991 and '92. He hadn't even announced by Labor Day of 1992 -- 1991, so his campaign hadn't even begun by this stage then.

The process does have a way of building up the nominee. They still have to perform, whoever it is the Democrats put up. But we're a long way from that. I think the problem with President Bush right now is that he's got -- his speech today, I watched it in Ohio. And setting aside my partisan disagreements with him, if I were his strategist, like Karl Rove, who is a brilliant man, I would have sent him out there fresh from vacation with five new ideas to fix the economy. Instead, he gave the speech of an Andover cheerleader, not of a guy with new ideas who wants another term as president.

SCHNEIDER: That's where his father got into trouble. People said, he doesn't have a clue about what to do with the economy.

WOODRUFF: Well, he did mention energy and he mentioned a few other things.

BEGALA: None of them new, though. All things that he said from the beginning.

CARLSON: All right. Bill Schneider, thank you very much for the fresh new numbers. We'll mull them over.

SCHNEIDER: OK.

CARLSON: Thanks.

Next, we will discuss those very same numbers with strategists from three top Democratic campaigns.

WOODRUFF: And later this hour, the recall race in California, including my conversation with Democratic Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, who is leading in at least one major poll.

BEGALA: And then we will put Bustamante mania in the California recall into the CROSSFIRE. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is getting under way. And guess which tough guy candidate is going into hiding?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: You tell the truth, James.

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Oh, stop.

NOVAK: I want to say, the people who defeat incumbent presidents, Democrats who get elected are either very unusual, they have a gimmick, like Jimmy Carter, or they're really dynamic like John F. Kennedy and, yes, Bill Clinton. Do you see a Bill Clinton in that crowd?

CARVILLE: How many times...

NOVAK: Tell me who.

CARVILLE: I think any of them could.

NOVAK: Oh, come on.

CARVILLE: I'm not going to sit here and (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Every time it comes up -- you know what, I love (UNINTELLIGIBLE). The economy is great. Bush can't lose. Let's keep right on going.

You know what? You know, that's the way it is.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: But did I say Bush can't lose?

CARVILLE: Well, you said you couldn't imagine any of these guys.

NOVAK: I said -- I'm asking...

BEGALA: You said the Democrats can't win. What, is Ralph Nader going to go in?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: Welcome back and happy Labor Day. Let the burgers burn on the grill. Get a cold beer. You're not going to want to miss this discussion, because a new nationwide CNN poll, also sponsored by "USA Today" and the Gallup organization, says the top Democrats in the presidential race are in order: Joe Lieberman, Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean. John Kerry is in fourth place, but no one from his campaign agreed to join us today, so we won't talk about him anymore.

Representatives from the top three campaigns are ready to step into the CROSSFIRE, though. They are Tom Nides, a senior adviser to the Joe Lieberman campaign; Steve, Elmendorf, Gephardt campaign chief of staff; and Steve McMahon, media advise to Governor Howard Dean. Gentlemen, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Tom, since you're closest, I'll start with you. The poll we just showed, the CBS poll, also showed that Joe Lieberman is at the top of the heap, probably because of the name recognition. The surprising thing to me, not to be mean, is how Lieberman has completely failed to catch on around the country.

I haven't talked to a single Democrat from Democratic senators all the way down to Democratic voters who believes he's going to win the nomination. Why isn't he stronger since many Democrats believe he really is the vice president?

TOM NIDES, LIEBERMAN CAMPAIGN: Tucker, I think I disagree with you. I think two things happened. The poll is actually quite predictable.

The fact of the matter is he has quite a good message. The message is quite simple. Democrats want to hear one thing. They want to know if he's a pro-choice Democrat, which he is. They want to know if he's an environmentalist, which he is.

They want to know he's strong on defense, which he is. And probably more importantly, they want to win. This is not about name recognition. The fact about name recognition, Dick Gephardt, who has been in national politics for 30 years, Howard Dean has been on every news magazine cover in the last three weeks, they'd be soaring.

The fact of the matter is, this is about a message which is getting through, which is electability. The voters understand this is silly season, but the reality is the numbers have been the same numbers that they have been for now going on four and a half months.

BEGALA: Well, let me direct this one to Steve McMahon from the Dean campaign, but the rest of you guys chime in too. The poll that Bill Schneider was out here with just a moment ago came out today from CNN and the Gallup organization.

We asked this question: Of Democrats only, would you rather have a moderate or a liberal as your nominee for president? This may surprise you -- oh, no. We asked them about the tax cuts, sorry.

We asked them: Do you want to -- Sam Feist (ph) is a guy who is the executive producer who is screwing this up, just so his mom knows back home. Mrs. Feist (ph), your boy is not doing his job. OK. Moderates -- 68 percent want a moderate as their nominee. Only 27 percent want a liberal.

Steve, we saw in Judy Woodruff's interview with Governor Dean a moment ago, him kind of crawfishing away from the liberal label, and say, well, I'm a centrist, I'm a centrist. Is that why? Because of the polls?

STEVE MCMAHON, DEAN MEDIA ADVISER: No, no, no. He's actually somebody who defies labels. I mean, he was sort of tagged with this liberal label because of his position on Iraq, and that's fine. But when people understand who Howard Dean really is, he's a guy who balances budgets, he's a guy who provides health insurance for nearly every kid in Vermont and wants to do it for the country.

But, most importantly, he's somebody who's not going to propose new programs that he doesn't have any idea how to pay for and that can't be paid for. He wants to balance the budget, he wants to create jobs and leave our kids with a stronger economy. So these labels are going to come and go. And, you know, if he's a liberal, that's fine. If that's what people want to characterize as a liberal, that's fine.

BEGALA: To Dick Gephardt, your candidate, why is Howard Dean too liberal for Dick Gephardt?

STEVE ELMENDORF, GEPHARDT CAMPAIGN: Howard Dean supported Dick Gephardt for president in 1988, which we...

BEGALA: Yes he did. I remember. And, in full disclosure, I was working for Gephardt then. I'm out of this race.

But no, what's Gephardt's problem with Dean, other than they want the same job? I mean, is he worried that Dean is too liberal for the party?

ELMENDORF: Gephardt's going to be making the case for why he's right for the party, not why somebody else is wrong for the party. I mean, the campaign is really just beginning, as your polls showed. Sixty-five percent of the people have not yet even chosen a candidate.

So I think the case we're going to make is, who has the best health care plan, who has the best education plan, who has the best economic plan? And we're going to make the positive case for why Dick Gephardt is the best candidate for working families in this country.

CARLSON: Steve, we know that Dick Gephardt is the best candidate for big labor. Really the group that he represents, I think, most avidly -- people say the Democratic Party (UNINTELLIGIBLE) interest groups. I'm sure you dispute that. Why don't you name one issue on which Dick Gephardt differs with big labor. Just name one specific issue.

ELMENDORF: Well, first I disagree with your characterization of big labor. We are supported by a lot of individual working people all over Iowa, New Hampshire...

CARLSON: OK. Well let's start with big labor. Give me one issue in which Gephardt and big labor diverge.

ELMENDORF: I'm not going to get into that, because that's not the issue here.

CARLSON: Well, it is to me.

ELMENDORF: The issue is who has supported -- you know what, what's wrong with labor, you know?

CARLSON: Nothing. I just want to know where Dick Gephardt disagrees with labor.

ELMENDORF: There will be plenty of time as the campaign goes on for everybody to know where everybody stands on every issue. But we are proud from the support we're getting from organized labor in this country. We're proud of the fact that Dick Gephardt's been endorsed by 12 international unions, and we're going to get endorsed by more.

BEGALA: Tom Nides, the first thing you said about Joe Lieberman is he is pro-choice. Is there anything he disagrees with the abortion rights lobby on?

NIDES: No. I think -- listen, if you look at Joe Lieberman's career in the United States Senate and if you look at his career as running as Al Gore's vice president, some actually think they got elected as president and vice president, I think that the reality is is that his position on choice, his position on environment is right at the core of what Democrats want in an elected official.

The fact of the matter is...

BEGALA: So there's nothing with which he disagrees...

NIDES: The fact of the matter is that Joe Lieberman is pro- choice, pro-environment, pro-defense, and Joe Lieberman is the one guy at the end of the day who is going to be able to beat George Bush. And that's what Democrats want to see and that's what Democrats want to have happen, because we need this White House back. We need it desperately back, and that's how we're going to get it back.

CARLSON: OK. But how about this -- or maybe this is a question for all three of you, if you can just go bing, bing, bing, right down the row. Tell me, why shouldn't Wesley Clark be elected president as a Democrat? What's wrong with Wesley Clark?

MCMAHON: There's nothing wrong with Wesley Clark. Listen, if he's the nominee, I'll absolutely vote for him. If he's the nominee, Howard Dean will enthusiastically endorse him and support him.

But, you know, he can't get to be the nominee without running. And if he decides to run, we think he'll run a good strong campaign. We think he's a great candidate, and we think he's got a lot to offer the Democratic Party and the country.

CARLSON: Are you going to support him too if he jumps in?

ELMENDORF: I'd support him if he got nominated. He's a great guy and he ought to run for president if he wants to be president. That's the first thing you have to do. If you want to be president, you have to run.

BEGALA: You guys do know this is on videotape as you're saying he's a great guy. Because if he gets in the race, you're going to have to savage him.

CARLSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Wesley Clark. Stand up, man. Attack Wesley Clark, would you?

NIDES: Wesley Clark is a patriot. Listen, as Steve says, I think it's getting late in the process. Let the games begin. Let more people get in if they want to get in.

It's a tough business. These candidates have been in this race, Dick Gephardt's been doing this for a long time, Joe Lieberman has been doing this for a long time, Howard Dean's been doing it. This is a tough -- this is a day in day out work.

This is going to talking to talk to the voters and convincing voters that they're the right choice for America and they're the right choice for the people. And that's what they have to do. And Wesley Clark is going to have to do the same thing and let the games begin.

BEGALA: Steve, your candidate, Mr. Gephardt, stood next to our president when he made the case for war. Helped him write his authorization for the use of force in that war in Iraq. Does Dick Gephardt today feel like he was misled by President Bush?

ELMENDORF: I don't think he feels he was misled, but he feels that the president has mismanaged the entire aftermath of the war. That he has continued with his go-it-alone approach, which is not how you should do this, and which he told him repeatedly in the ramp up to this, if you want my support, if you're going to do this, you need to do it with the U.N., you need to do it with more countries. And he's not done it.

BEGALA: OK. Hold that thought. All three of you guys hold that thought, because we're going to come right back. And when we do, we'll continue this debate.

And later in this hour, we'll turn our focus back to California. Tucker and I will debate strategy with one of the Golden State's top Republican congressman and the head of California's Democratic Party.

CARLSON: Also, Judy Woodruff talks with California Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, who has become the Democratic Party's last desperate hope for holding onto the office of governor. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to our campaign special, "Crossfire Goes Inside Politics," coming to you, as always, live from the George Washington University here in downtown Washington.

We're talking about the Democratic presidential race with strategists from three top presidential campaigns. Steve McMahon is media adviser to Howard Dean. Steve Elmendorf is the Gephardt campaign's chief of staff. Tom Nides is a senior adviser to the Joe Lieberman campaign.

BEGALA: And because we Democrats believe in democracy, we're going to open it up to we the people. Yes, sir. What's your question for these top strategists?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tucker, you mentioned that national security's going to be a big deal in this upcoming race. Isn't it true, though, that the economy is going to dictate the presidential race much more than the candidates themselves, like it does every four years?

CARLSON: Don't you desperately hope that, Steve McMahon?

MCMAHON: Well, listen, we can win on either front, because the president is obviously mishandling this Iraqi situation. You can see it in the numbers. But I agree with you. I think the economy is going to be a major, major issue with voters.

This president's lost 3.2, 3.3, 3.5 million jobs. It goes up every day, it's so hard to keep track of. The economy's in terrible shape and it doesn't seem to be getting any better.

And I can tell you this, if the Iraq situation doesn't improve dramatically -- and certainly all of us I think hope it does -- and the economy doesn't improve dramatically, this is going to be a very, very hard-fought contest, and the president is going to have a tough time holding on to his job.

BEGALA: Well, Tom Nides, as a Lieberman strategist, aren't you worried that you have to focus on the economy because you can't really draw distinctions on Iraq because your guy was for going to war in Iraq before George Bush knew where it was on the map?

NIDES: Absolutely. We're actually in the best position you can be in, because we'd actually debate this on the economy. The fact of the matter is, on military strength, on defense, Joe Lieberman is as good and as strong as it relates to the military as George Bush is.

So we can take that issue right off the table. We can debate it on the position where Democrats have always succeeded, which is the economy, and where we stand versus where the Republicans stand. And with that argument, we win every time.

CARLSON: Mr. Elmendorf, which would Gephardt rather debate, the economy or Iraq?

ELMENDORF: Well, we want to debate George Bush, and we'll debate him on anything he wants to talk about. But we're going to particularly debate him on the economy. You know this is the first president since Herbert Hoover to lose jobs. The first since Herbert Hoover. And we are going to take it to him every chance we get on that.

This economy at Labor Day, we can see it is completely mismanaged. And he has to plan. His speech today, he had no plan other than more tax cuts.

BEGALA: Steve McMahon from the Dean campaign. Steve Elmendorf from the Gephardt campaign. Tom Nides from Joe Lieberman's campaign. All three guys are committing to put their guys on CROSSFIRE, right? Lieberman's coming on?

NIDES: Without question.

BEGALA: Gephardt?

ELMENDORF: Gephardt's been her and he's coming back.

BEGALA: And Governor Dean?

MCMAHON: At some point he'll be here.

BEGALA: If he can't debate Tucker Carlson, he can't debate Bush.

Now back to Judy Woodruff here in our studio.

(APPLAUSE)

WOODRUFF: All right. We've heard about the presidential campaign. What about Labor Day in California? It means a lot of work for the people who want to be governor. That includes a day at the fair for candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And we'll hear from California's lieutenant governor to get his thoughts on the race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back. Well, in five weeks, California voters will decide whether to recall Governor Gray Davis. Five weeks for a sometimes bizarre situation to go through even more changes.

We've got some updates on California from our Bob Franken. He's in Los Angeles. And from Rusty Dornin. She is in Sacramento.

First to you, Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, bizarre? How could you call this bizarre, Judy? It is quite bizarre. Here today in this park a short while ago we had the man who wishes to continue to be governor campaigning, going full force for the labor vote, telling people that the recall has been a humbling experience, but that he's never going to turn on the labor people, the working people.

As a matter of fact, that is part of a very, very heavy campaign that's going to be coordinated by labor. They're putting out brochures that say the real targets, the recall is anti-union. And the brochures goes on: the real recall plan is to recall a variety of the workplace protections that are unique to California that many businesses don't like.

The labor unions are saying that the 2.6 million members of the AFL-CIO in the state should be very leery of a Republican taking over the state house. Gray Davis is going to make that point over and over, as his internal polls, we've learned at CNN, are showing that the "L.A. Times" poll that showed 50 percent of the voters favoring a recall was actually, to quote a campaign leader, "optimistic."

As a matter of fact, it's more like 52 percent who oppose the recall. And what is really interesting is about 50 percent of those who are in the labor movement also said that they are for the recall. Fifty-two percent are for the recall. In other words, opposite of the position of the AFL-CIO.

They're going to be having a very heavy campaign to try and turn that around.

Meanwhile, the issue up at Sacramento is about a certain candidate, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has decided he's not going to debate for a while. And for that, he had to confront Rusty Dornin.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right.

And Arnold Schwarzenegger is a difficult one to pin down in any kind of press conference situation. He just won't seem to answer those difficult political questions. So you have to catch him on the run. Well, we caught up with him here at the California State Fair in Sacramento and asked him why he is not going to appear at this week's debate with all the major candidates. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he's saving himself for just one debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm looking forward to the debates. It's going to be great with the California broadcasters, yes. It's going to be a fantastic experience.

DORNIN: Are you not going to do any of the other debates, sir?

SCHWARZENEGGER: We're going to do one great debate, where we all can bring out all the different issues, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DORNIN: He said later that his schedule was interfering with it, but that he is going to be on the circuit, the press is going to get -- and the public is going to get sick of hearing him talk, talk, talk, is how he put it.

He's now left the fairgrounds here, but, Judy, he was met by a very enthusiastic audience here. It's the first time he's been out in public since -- from over the weekend. He was very quiet over the weekend, haven't seem him in public since that controversial interview came out, 1977 interview came out, but he's back on the campaign trail -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: That's right. He was campaigning at the end of last week, but took the weekend off.

Rusty, very clever how you got a question in there.

Rusty Dornin with us from Sacramento, Bob Franken with us from Los Angeles, thanks to both of you.

Well, in his second term as lieutenant governor, Cruz Bustamante broke ranks with Democratic officeholders to become a candidate in the recall race. Polls show him in front of all the candidates, including Arnold Schwarzenegger.

A little earlier today, I spoke with Bustamante. And I started by asking about his criticism of Schwarzenegger for being anti- immigrant for his support of Proposition 187. I asked Bustamante if he was worried that Schwarzenegger would take some immigrant votes away from him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LT. GOV. CRUZ BUSTAMANTE (D-CA), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: No.

What happened, Judy, is that he is an immigrant. And he should know better. But he has surrounded himself with anti-immigrant people. And he surrounded himself with former Governor Pete Wilson, who clearly had a strategy, a very cynical political strategy, in California of using wedge-issue politics to win his campaign. He surrounded himself with a whole team of folks who put these commercials on TV that split the communities of California.

He then made sure that he came out against driver's licenses for residents. He clearly came out seriously and confidently, saying he was against -- actually, he was for Proposition 187. So, whether it was overtly or covertly, he's clearly had a campaign against immigrants. And the point was this, that, when I was speaker, I took on Governor Wilson, because he didn't want to provide food stamps to legal children.

And then, as you know, there was a little bit of a falling out with me and Governor Gray Davis on the issue. And so, if Arnold thinks I'm going to give him a pass just because he's using all these things to try to establish his conservative credentials, the immigrant community here in the state of California pays $1,400 more a year than they receive in benefits.

WOODRUFF: Right.

BUSTAMANTE: And he's not going to get a pass. And I'm going to make sure and call him on it.

WOODRUFF: Right.

Let me ask you about something else. You started your campaign on the rationale that people should vote no on the recall. But, lately, out on the campaign trail, you seem to be spending most of your time talking about your own candidacy, very little on the recall. Have you given up on the fight against the recall?

BUSTAMANTE: I started my very first announcement by saying no on the recall. Every interview I've had -- when you call my campaign office, you'll say -- they'll tell you, no on the recall, yes on Bustamante.

But what I'm trying to do is, I'm trying to compare and contrast myself with the people who I'm running against. And there is a second -- there's a second vote on that ballot. There is the recall vote and then there's the one for the successor candidates. I'm in competition with Arnold, Tom and Peter. And so I'm trying to contrast my views with those people that I'm running against.

WOODRUFF: But aren't you spending now almost exclusively all your time on that and not on saying no on the recall?

BUSTAMANTE: Every single interview, Judy, every single one, I've always said I'm opposed to the recall.

There isn't one interview that I don't do that I'm not asked this very same question. And so you've made it actually very easy for me, because every reporter has asked me the exact same question. I'm no the recall. But we're going to beat this effort on both questions.

WOODRUFF: All right. All right.

On Governor Davis, have you asked him for his endorsement? He says he's going to announce who he's for in a few days. Have you asked him to endorse you?

BUSTAMANTE: I've allowed everybody to come to my -- as an endorsement on their own. I didn't go out and try to force anybody. I had a basic position that I thought it was a very good thing to take place in terms of my running as a positive person as a successor candidate.

And I've allowed labor folks and everyone else to come to this consideration themselves.

WOODRUFF: But do you want Governor Davis...

(CROSSTALK)

WOODRUFF: Do you want Governor Davis' endorsement?

BUSTAMANTE: I want everybody's endorsement. I want everybody's. I don't concede any voter. I don't concede any endorsement to anyone. I'm going to try to get every single endorsement I can.

WOODRUFF: Do you embrace him as the current governor?

BUSTAMANTE: I embrace the state of California.

And I think that what's taken place is that the voters have said basically this, Judy. Even though there are those who criticize, those people who organized the entire recall activity as some right- wing conspiracy, the people who signed those petitions aren't a part of some right-wing conspiracy. And they basically said two things: We want everything up on the table and we're going to try to make an assessment of the governor and all that he represents and everything he's trying to say.

WOODRUFF: Right.

BUSTAMANTE: And the second vote is going to be about those people who want to be successor candidates.

WOODRUFF: Right.

BUSTAMANTE: And they're going to look at this seriously, analyze it, and then make a very serious decision when they go into that ballot box.

WOODRUFF: Debate coming up this Wednesday night. How important are these debates, very quickly?

BUSTAMANTE: Well, I think it's going to give me an opportunity to lay out my different ideas that I have presented. I think it's going to be an opportunity for them, all the other candidates, to do the same thing.

And we'll compare and contrast. And the voters, hopefully, will be the winners, because they'll be able to pick the best person.

WOODRUFF: Does it matter that Mr. Schwarzenegger is not going to be there Wednesday night?

BUSTAMANTE: Well, I'm sure, at some point, he'll probably show up. He hasn't been very specific about his proposals. But I'm sure, at some point, he'll decide he'll need to show up, I guess.

WOODRUFF: Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, out campaigning today on Labor Day, very good to see you. Thanks for talking to us.

BUSTAMANTE: The pleasure is mine. Thank you for having me on the show.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BEGALA: Coming up on our special CROSSFIRE GOES INSIDE POLITICS, why is Arnold Schwarzenegger avoiding nearly all of the upcoming debates in California? Could it be because organizers won't let him use a stunt double? Well, we'll ask two guests who aren't afraid of stepping into the CROSSFIRE.

Stay with us.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back.

The first debate in the California recall is Wednesday. There are at least three other debates this month. But Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign has just announced he'll only take part in one debate, that one on September 17. What is Arnold afraid of?

Next in the CROSSFIRE, from San Francisco, California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres; and, in Irvine, California, Republican California Congressman and longtime Schwarzenegger pal Dana Rohrabacher.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Art Torres, thanks for joining us.

I know that you read the "Oui" magazine interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger, in which he admits to having tons of girlfriends in the '70s. You responded to it this way in "The Los Angeles Times." Correct me if this is not an accurate quote. It's hard to believe you said this, but here's what it says -- quote -- "It's been well documented that this man, Schwarzenegger, is a sexual predator."

So you're essentially accusing the guy of rape. Do you really need to do that to win the election, go that far?

ART TORRES, CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN: Well, no, it's never been part of our campaign, Tucker.

Quite frankly, I was responding to a KNX reporter who was asking me what I thought about the article. And having served 12 years on the Senate Judiciary Committee, it was very clear that that was the behavior, because this was not just 26 years ago. As Gloria Allred has pointed out in Las Vegas yesterday, these are incidents that would have happened just recently as well.

CARLSON: Whoa. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Mr. Torres, before you go on and slander someone on the basis of no

(CROSSTALK)

TORRES: I'm not slandering anybody, Tucker.

CARLSON: Yes, you have just suggested...

TORRES: No, I'm not slandering anybody.

CARLSON: Yes, you are. You have just said, Mr. Torres

TORRES: Truth is always a defense.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Well, then you provide the proof, then, that he's been unfaithful to his wife, because that's what you're charging and you're calling him a sexual predator. Back it up.

TORRES: Well, I just indicated to you that there have been a number of articles, as recently as two years ago, that have been forwarded to me. But we're not making this part of the campaign. And I'm not going to answer these kinds of questions anymore.

(CROSSTALK)

TORRES: I was asked to give my opinion, and I did. End of story. I want to talk about why he's not showing up at these debates.

(APPLAUSE)

REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: He brought it up.

(CROSSTALK)

TORRES: I didn't bring it up. Tucker brought it up. And a KNX reporter brought it up.

ROHRABACHER: This is the type of scumbag politics that is going to backfire on these people.

(BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: Hang on a second. We had to bell you there, Art. I'm sorry to do that.

Congressman Rohrabacher, I don't give a rip snort who Arnold Schwarzenegger spends time with. I care about issues.

(CROSSTALK)

ROHRABACHER: Yes, but the Democratic Party does. And they're playing this kind of politics.

(CROSSTALK)

TORRES: Baloney. I was responding to a reporter.

ROHRABACHER: You responded the way you wanted to respond.

(CROSSTALK)

TORRES: So did the far right on President Clinton. We don't hear them now. Why are they so silent all of a sudden?

BEGALA: Art Torres, let me try me get my shot in here, bud. I'm trying to help you out.

(LAUGHTER)

TORRES: You got it.

BEGALA: OK. Thank you.

Congressman Rohrabacher, if Mr. Schwarzenegger is so concerned about issues and wants to avoid these personal attacks, which I deplore, why won't he debate more?

ROHRABACHER: Well, as circumstances in this political campaign have developed, we find ourselves with a number of Republican candidates and only one major Democratic candidate.

In that circumstance, no matter who you are, if you're a pro, it's not to your benefit to try to give more attention to these other Republican nominees. And that's the reality we have to deal with. And that's why they've had this hesitation.

BEGALA: So the voters of California don't have a right to hear from him? He did "Jay Leno," which is a fun show.

ROHRABACHER: Of course they do.

(CROSSTALK) BEGALA: He did the morning shows, which are important. And he's done some right-wing radio. But beyond that -- for example, he's you're pal. Send him on CROSSFIRE. If he's tough enough to take on the budget, he can take on little old me, can't he?

TORRES: Don't do it, Dana. Don't do it.

ROHRABACHER: Look, sometimes, it's a lot actually more illuminating for the people out there, for the voters, to hear someone in an interview situation, where you can have backup questions and follow-up questions. And Schwarzenegger's already done that extensively throughout the state.

CARLSON: Now, Mr. Torres, as you know, Taco Bell, the fast-food franchise, recently announced a poll where, if you buy one kind of taco, it's a vote for recall. Another...

TORRES: Phony election, Tucker.

CARLSON: Then you released this coming on the heels of accusing Arnold Schwarzenegger of sex crimes.

TORRES: Phony election. It was rigged.

(CROSSTALK)

TORRES: No, I was accusing Taco Bell of sabotage and rigging an election. Everybody knows you don't go to Taco Bell for healthy food. You go there for the beef taco. It was rigged. Everybody knew they were going to buy beef tacos. Plus, they're 40 to 50 cents cheaper than the chicken taco.

CARLSON: Wait. But wait a second. Art Torres, you've accused a candidate of a sex crime. You're accusing Taco Bell of -- quote -- "rigging elections."

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

TORRES: Yes, because they knew they would sell more beef tacos.

CARLSON: Wait. Aren't you -- no offense -- a bit of a loose cannon?

TORRES: The answer is we.

The Taco Bell rigged election had no basis in fact. They knew ahead of time that they outsell beef tacos ahead of chicken tacos. And nobody goes to Taco Bell to buy chicken tacos. They go to buy beef tacos. So big deal.

CARLSON: That's an excellent point, Mr. Torres. Good luck with your party.

BEGALA: Congressman Rohrabacher. (APPLAUSE)

TORRES: Good luck with your bow tie.

BEGALA: We disagree on almost everything, but you're one of the most principled conservatives that I know. I'm surprised, then, why you're setting those deeply-held principles aside. Do you still believe that abortion is the taking of a human life?

ROHRABACHER: Yes, I do.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Why do you support a candidate for governor -- why do you support a candidate for governor who wants to make sure that it's legal to perform what, in your eyes, is the taking of a human life?

ROHRABACHER: That is an issue, among many other issues, that are important to me. And, in reality, if you're going to try to push our country in the right direction, you're not insisting that someone agrees with you 100 percent and then can't get elected.

You try to get the person who comes as close to you who can be elected. And in Arnold Schwarzenegger

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Do you now support gay civil unions, like Arnold Schwarzenegger does, who changed on gay rights as well, Congressman?

ROHRABACHER: Well, let me tell you something. I don't happen to believe that.

But I believe that Arnold, on these social issues, had tried to meet both the left and right halfway. He's against gay marriage, but he's in favor of this Domestic Partnership Act. Yes, he's for a woman's right to choose, but he's not in favor of this partial-birth abortion, where these radicals on the abortion movement want to kill babies as they're coming out of the mother's womb. So I think...

TORRES: Oh, for heaven's sake.

ROHRABACHER: So I think Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken the mid- level ground. And that's good.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Mr. Torres, Mario Cuomo, one of the smarter Democrats in the world, yesterday...

TORRES: It's usually called sitting on the fence.

CARLSON: OK.

Mario Cuomo basically said what I think a lot of liberals feel, though he said it out loud in yesterday's "New York Times." Asked about the California recall, he said -- quote -- "It's too much democracy."

Is that your view, that this is just giving the people too much power over their own government?

TORRES: No.

I believe that you need to have a recall provision, but it needs to come with a standard, high crimes and misdemeanors for a president, some kind of standard for good cause for a governor or any other elected official in the state of California. I believe that this kind of recall provision needs to be changed and also the percentage of signatures required to be accepted. Because of the low turnout of voters, you have a very small threshold in order to recall any governor.

And I would say that whether the governor was a Republican or a Democrat or a Green Party member.

CARLSON: Well, then should Taco Bell face criminal sanctions for rigging an election?

(LAUGHTER)

TORRES: I think what needs to happen, Tucker, is that you need to get off the taco and get on the boat.

BEGALA: Congressman Rohrabacher, I've been continuing to watch your political evolution to the left here with Schwarzenegger. I'm curious.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, when you and the rest of the right-wingers on Capitol Hill tried to impeach President Clinton, he said, "I'm ashamed to be a Republican." Are you ashamed of that vote? Do you share Arnold's shame?

ROHRABACHER: Obviously, I don't agree with Arnold on everything. But I can tell you that he would be so much...

BEGALA: Not anything so far.

(CROSSTALK)

ROHRABACHER: Let me answer the question. He will be so much better than the Bustamante-Davis regime that has bankrupted our state, which

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: He attacked probably the most important vote you'll ever cast in your career, Congressman.

ROHRABACHER: And, by the way, he's proving himself -- wait a minute. hold on. He's proving himself to be an honorable candidate, not talking about predators, slinging that kind of mud at his opponent.

(CROSSTALK)

TORRES: He's a scaredy-cat. He doesn't want to debate.

ROHRABACHER: And also, let me note, not only is the Democratic Party calling him a sexual predator.

TORRES: No, we are not. I was asked my opinion. Nobody else in the party is.

(CROSSTALK)

ROHRABACHER: But the fact is

(CROSSTALK)

TORRES: Far less than what you guys did against Clinton.

ROHRABACHER: Let me finish -- can I finish my statement?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Yes. Mr. Rohrabacher, we're out of time. You may

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... sentence.

ROHRABACHER: They aren't insulting the people of California by trying to lump illegal and legal immigration together. And that's what you hear over and over and over again from Art Torres and the rest of the Democrats. No, the people of California know illegal immigration is different than legal immigration.

TORRES: What does that have to with debating?

ROHRABACHER: And illegal immigration is killing us.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Unfortunately, on that, we're going to have to end. We're out of time. In San Francisco, Art Torres, chairman of the Democratic Party and foe of Taco Bell.

(CROSSTALK)

TORRES: Thank you.

CARLSON: Yes.

And also in California, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

Thank you both very much -- and now back to Judy Woodruff.

(APPLAUSE)

WOODRUFF: Nothing dull about California politics. Just ahead: the role of organized labor in presidential politics. President Bush stood in the rain to make his appeal. But has the union star faded when it comes to influencing elections? Some thoughts from our Bruce Morton when return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: It is no surprise union voters are often front and center on Labor Day, the subject of every candidate's public appeals.

Our Bruce Morton reports that, while the number of union households is not what it once was, the labor vote still carries a lot of political clout.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Labor's glory days as a political force were probably in the 1940s, when union votes and money helped elect Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Labor was for John Kennedy in 1960, and he won. But Republican Ronald Reagan won in 1980 and angered labor by firing the striking air traffic controllers.

In 1984, labor backed Walter Mondale against Reagan, but he carried just one date. And labor has changed, fewer manufacturing jobs; 46 percent of today's union members work for the government. Union members used to be 20 percent of the population, just 13 percent now. But the percentage of voters from union households has gone up.

ED POTTER, EMPLOYMENT POLICY FOUNDATION: They've lost ground in the workplace, but they have not necessarily lost ground in the political workplace, if you will.

JOHN CHALLENGER, EMPLOYMENT ANALYST: Unions are becoming more and more aggressive about getting out to the candidates who support their issues and bringing dollars to support their voting efforts.

MORTON: What labor can do is mobilize people. Nevada Senator Harry Reid won reelection six years ago by roughly 400 votes out of more than 400,000 cast. And he won, most observers thought, because of aggressive door-to-door campaigning by organized labor.

STEPHEN HESS, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: What labor can produce in certain situations are campaign workers. So it's not as if labor is by any means unimportant. And in a close election, everything is important.

But just from where it once was -- and that, again, is a question of numbers. Simply, organized labor is not as big a percentage of the work force as it once was.

MORTON: This time, they certainly are unhappy with George W. Bush. Unemployment is high, over one million jobs lost since the recession officially ended. They want to matter.

JOHN SWEENEY, PRESIDENT, AFL-CIO: Union members are ready to take on the challenge of electing a working people's president. We're planning the largest and earliest education and mobilization effort ever in the 2004 elections.

MORTON: We'll see how they do. Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BEGALA: Thank you, Bruce.

When we return, between the California recall and the presidential race, our viewers have plenty to say.

CARLSON: At least one of them believes we need more Democratic presidential candidates, if you can imagine. We'll let him fire back in just a minute.

We'll be right back.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back to our special, CROSSFIRE GOES INSIDE POLITICS.

We've asked you to fire back your comments. And you have. Let's take a look. Here's an e-mail. It is from Eric in Des Moines, Iowa. He says -- and this is to Tucker. He says: "The Democrats have a serious problem. They are so opposed to Bush that they are willing to support anybody but him. Isn't this a recipe for disaster? Shouldn't a party believe in their candidate and look toward the future, not just with malice toward the other guy?" -- Tucker.

CARLSON: If there's one lesson in the Clinton years, it's that you can hate the other guy so much, you go clinically insane.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: And that's true. I've seen decent, smart people go crazy hating Clinton. And I'm seeing decent, smart people on the other side go crazy hating Bush. And it's sad. I feel sad for Democrats.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: What's interesting is that, in Texas, Bush had lots of support from Democrats, where he was essentially a moderate, a very nice guy. As he's come to Washington, for reasons I can't quite fathom, he's become an ultra-right-wing president. And that has driven Democrats out of his camp.

CARLSON: He has not. You know he's not an ultra-right-wing president.

BEGALA: He has polarized this country. He's been a divider and not a uniter. That's what he's done.

CARLSON: Oh, come on. Please.

WOODRUFF: All right, listen to this one.

"Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to have gun control, but has perpetrated more violence as the Terminator than anyone."

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: "He will cut spending, but believes in a big government, where everyone can find a job. If he truly wanted to be governor of the people, wouldn't he wait until the next regular election, when a majority of the voters determine the outcome?"

This is from Mary in California -- Paul.

BEGALA: Well, only in a special election like this will you get a right-wing conservative like Dana Rohrabacher on this show praising someone who believes in abortion rights, gay rights and gun control and was ashamed of the impeachment. That's why Arnold can't run in a regular election, because the right-wingers in California would eat him alive.

CARLSON: Well, I don't know. He's a movie actor and a body builder who has never held office. That's why he can't run in a regular election.

BEGALA: He's a liberal. He's a liberal.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: That's right. But the election that isn't a democratic election, as Mario Cuomo said, the problem may be, it's too democratic. Think about that for a minute, Paul Begala.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: All right, here's another one. This one, we're going to start with Tucker.

"Why is it that the right nervously scoffs at the prospect of General Wesley Clark running for president? Could it be because they are well aware of that, among Democrats, he has the best chance of defeating George Bush in 2004?" This is from Errol in Geneseo, New York.

CARLSON: Actually, I think that nervous scoff is actually an amused chortle at the idea that nine presidential candidates on the Democratic side aren't enough.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Let's have one more, to which I say, amen. Let's have one more. Let's have 10 more. I'm for it. BEGALA: I remember Rich Bond, the chairman of the Republican Party, scoffing the same way at Bill Clinton. He called him the failed governor of a small state. And for eight years, they called him Mr. President. Be careful about mocking General Wesley Clark.

CARLSON: I'm not mocking anybody. I'm for Wesley Clark.

BEGALA: I didn't mean you. No, you've been fine. I mean others.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I'm for Al Sharpton, too.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: Time for a quick question from the audience.

Who has one?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, my name is Anthony Valdez (ph). I'm from San Francisco, California.

My question is, by mocking and not taking the Dean campaign seriously, do you think prominent Republicans like Karl Rove are shaking in their boots and playing a game of reverse psychology or are -- or do they take him serious?

CARLSON: No, I think -- I don't think Republicans have ever mocked Howard Dean. I think many Republicans are for Howard Dean. I think a lot of Democrats didn't take Dean very seriously. I confess I didn't take Dean very seriously. I was wrong. I think Democrats, smart ones, are upset by the possibility he'll be the nominee.

BEGALA: A few months ago, "The Washington Post" ran a picture of Karl Rove, the president's chief strategist, cheering Howard Dean and begging, begging for him to run.

CARLSON: Yes.

BEGALA: I think that's the kind of arrogance that could cost Mr. Bush reelection.

WOODRUFF: All right, another question from our G.W. audience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jerry Davis (ph) from San Diego, California.

And my question is, do you think the Democrats will face political repercussions in the 2004 election because of the contempt many Californians hold against Governor Davis today?

CARLSON: The Democratic Party of California has obviously gone completely insane.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: You saw that from Mr. Torres, accusing Arnold Schwarzenegger of infidelity. Yes, I think that's going to hurt.

BEGALA: I think it's an enormous mistake. I think Tucker is right. I think anybody that goes out and attacks Arnold Schwarzenegger's private life is wrong and they're a fool and they ought not do it.

WOODRUFF: We are going to have to leave it there. That is all for today's CNN campaign special.

I'm Judy Woodruff. Join me tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Eastern for INSIDE POLITICS.

BEGALA: And then join us at 4:30 Eastern for CROSSFIRE.

From the left, I'm Paul Begala.

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson.

"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now.

Happy Labor Day. See you tomorrow.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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