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Raw Politics - Presidential Candidates Weigh in on Iraq

Aired June 9, 2007 - 19:00   ET


TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR, RAW POLITICS: The big guns are firing all along the campaign trail. Candidates staking their turf on the war, immigration, religion. You would think the election was next week. It's not, but we still got debate fever, a big hairy deal gone wrong and an old question, who's on first? It's all RAW POLITICS after a check of what's in the news right now.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right Tom. We'll get back to you in just a little bit. I'm Rick Sanchez here in the CNN newsroom (INAUDIBLE) First of all, the first day in orbit for new crew of the space shuttle "Atlantis" has been not so simple because there may be problems. Astronauts are wrapping up a detailed examination of the ship's thermal blanketing system. A four-inch tear was discovered after yesterday's takeoff. "Atlantis" is set to arrive at the international space station tomorrow.

Authorities are giving a case of a missing Missouri girl a closer look. This is Kara Kapetsky (ph). This is her myspace home page. The 17-year old disappeared May 4th from a home in Belton, Missouri. Kelsey Smith's body was found near those same woods Wednesday. A man has been charged with murder in her case. Police are trying to figure out if there's a link between the two.

A familiar scene for President Bush as he travels abroad lately, protests and demonstrators take to the streets. It turns violent. Today Italian police had to use tear gas to disperse the rock and bolt throwing rabble rousers there to greet the president. I'm Rick Sanchez. As news breaks, we'll break in. Until then, let's get you back now to Tom Foreman and RAW POLITICS.

FOREMAN: They are running for the White House harder than a congressman chasing a kickback.


SEN. JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Senator Biden, one of the 800 candidates running for president.


FOREMAN: And in case you didn't hear it, the starting gun really went off this week. Big boom, Democratic and Republican candidates sounding off on the war.


SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We must succeed in this conflict.


RUDY GIULIANI (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to be successful in Iraq.


FOREMAN: But can any of them really do anything about it?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is the biggest sin you've ever committed?


FOREMAN: So help me God. But at the moment the candidates need the help of voters, values voters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe in God. I believe in the bible. Believe Jesus Christ is my savor.


FOREMAN: Private faith, public issues and positioning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we can't do this, we ought to vote to dissolve the Congress and go home and wait until the next election.


FOREMAN: Guess what? They couldn't do it. Immigration reforms maybe not dead, but not well.

And me first. Throwing elbows to become the state that matters in the primary race. It's getting rougher than a roll call in the Alabama Senate. Call them fighting words, call them the opening acts for our debate shows tonight, it's all RAW POLITICS. I'm Tom Foreman. Thanks for joining us as we kick start some incredible political coverage here on CNN with Soledad O'Brien's faith and politics special at 8:00 p.m. and two key debates combined into one at 9:00. It's the best political team on television at its very best, you don't want to miss it.

But first, up here on RAW POLITICS, Iraq. There's no doubt that this war is the most important factor in the 2008 election. The question is, will the 2000 election make any difference to the war? Can a candidate really walk into the White House, snap his or her fingers and solve our problems? Congressional correspondent Dana Bash joins us now from Capitol Hill. With me in the studio, chief national correspondent John King. And CNN "American Morning" anchor, John Roberts. John King, let me start with you. Right now the Iraq war seems like a pop fly in little league. Everyone wants to run around like they're going to catch it, nobody wants it to land next to them.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anybody who wants to the next president of the United States no matter what they say in the campaign Tom, hopes that the situation in Iraq is greatly improved by the time they get there but they can't count on that, which is why you on left Democrats trying to play to their base saying I will get the troops out as soon as possible and on right, you have the Republicans right now in a very difficult position. Their base still supports the war and the president so they need to say keep the troops there. Pulling out would be a disaster. That's a much more difficult sell for whoever the nominee is going to be.

FOREMAN: Well, let's listen to what they're saying in this debate so we have a point of reference.


McCAIN: I believe if we fail, it will become a center of terrorism

GIULIANI: And if we get it wrong, it's going to be much, much worse for us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got to pull together here to win over there.

SEN. HILARY CLINTON (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We all believe that we need to try to end this war.

OBAMA: We are not going to be able to continue to throw our troops at a civil war and be able to succeed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This country has to end its occupation of Iraq.


FOREMAN: John Roberts, are any of these messages really hitting home with the voters are at this point, as far as we know?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, don't forget, the majority of Republicans still support the war. When you look at the evidence of how Iraq has gone in the last four years, I don't know where the evidence is that you can pull the troops out by the end of the year and not have the whole thing fall apart. So it could well be that the Republicans are on the right track when you say you can't pull out because the place will be even worse than it is now. The trick is, this is the real needle that these guys have to thread or woman if they get into the White House as well, is how do you draw down the troops at the same time building up the Iraqi political machine to the point where the whole place does not completely collapse because if it does, you're going to have civil war. You're going to have the Turks come in potentially across the northern border. You're going to have Iran come in across the eastern border and potentially Saudi Arabia, supporting them from the south in the Sunni provinces. You've got be able to put all of that together. It's a real finesse here and I don't think anybody has quite figured out how to do it. There's a lot of talk but nobody's got a real concrete plan on how to do that at this point.

FOREMAN: The top commander there, General David Petreaus talked about it this week, talked about the western province where they've made a lot of progress. Listen to his words.


GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, CMDR., MULTINATIONAL FORCES IRAQ: We've seen the political solution. It's in a place like Anbar province. Anbar has been completely transformed just in the period really since the announcement of the new security plan. In fact, in the counterinsurgency field manual, for example, it says that counterinsurgency is 20 percent military but 80 percent political.


FOREMAN: Dana Bash, how are Democrats feeling about this right now because they must feel the clock ticking. Many of them said in the debates look, we were elected to deal with the war. The months are passing and effectively nothing's really changing.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nothing's really changing but they're going to keep on trying, Tom. At the end of this month, we're going to see even more votes from the Democratic Congress probably the same kind of votes we've seen several times now, trying to get senators on record about whether or not they support a time line for withdrawal. That's going to be a part of the defense authorization bill. So yes, they understand they simply don't have the votes, because they have majorities, but they are still lots and lots of Republicans who don't feel comfortable with this time line for withdrawal but they're going to keep trying because if you look at the way the votes have gone over the past several months now, every time they've taken a vote they have picked off more and more Republicans and that is really reflective of what's go on with the American public.

FOREMAN: John King, one of the questions here that I keep coming back to is we all keep saying this is the big issue of this election. This election is a long way off. Is it possible that, by election time, it's not the big issue of the election?

KING: It is possible. I think it is very unlikely, given the fact that no matter who is elected the next president of the United States, they're likely to have 75,000 if not more U.S. troops in Iraq and the death toll keeps going up. If it gets significantly better very soon, sure, other issues could at least nudge up against Iraq. But every campaign, (INAUDIBLE) the last campaign to a degree, in 2006 the Democrats believed the message to their party was deal with Iraq and deal with it yesterday, not tomorrow and the Republicans believe in part, the Republicans will say spending was an issue, other things were an issue but they understand the mood of the country is sour right now. So everything else the people are disappointed in you with is magnified because of the sour mood of Iraq.

ROBERTS: It really does overshadow everything politically and any time you try to make any progress on any one issue, the Iraq war keeps on sucking you back in.

FOREMAN: Do you have a sense John from your experience in looking at this, that time favors or hurts either party. The Democrats in some ways could say the time to strike is now because there is this great feeling in the country that it's a problem.

ROBERTS: I think the longer this goes on in the state that it's in now, the more it favors the Democratic party. If by some miracle, there were to be some improvement, if Petreaus comes back and says not just hey we've got some tribal leaders who are helping us out a little bit in Anbar province. Nobody's ready to go on vacation there just yet, but if he does come back in the fall and points to some significant progress for which there is empirical evidence that's irrefutable, people could say, yes, things are getting better. Then I think that it will favor the Democrats. If you can't come back and say that, then maybe the Republicans have a little bit better chance. But the problem for the Republicans is, the party is so divided now and Tom Tancredo told me the other day in New Hampshire, there isn't somebody at the head of the Republican party who could lead a unified party the way President Bush did in the 2000 and 2004 campaign. You're going to have all these fractures all over. So I think the Democrats still are better strategically placed at this point.

FOREMAN: You had Dana up there on Capitol Hill. There's strong indications that the Democrats are also having problems of leadership in the sense of not being able to get everyone to pull in exactly the same direction. How are they going to solve that? Can they?

BASH: That's true. I'll tell you, there was something that happened under the radar this past week and it was really telling about where the sentiment is for these 2008 presidential candidates in the very important state of New Hampshire. Just about seven hours before the CNN Republican presidential debate, the two home state senators from New Hampshire, Tom, Senator Judd Craig, Senator John Sununu they co-sponsored an Iraq bill saying that the president should sign on to the Iraq Study Group. That particular proposal has a time line for troop withdrawal. That again went under the radar. What really was a message to Republicans yes, as John Roberts said that by and large Republicans still support the war, but it's definitely slipping. And that was something that was very important, I think in terms of the political debate on Iraq.

FOREMAN: I think it's going to be on the table for all. The question is, as it changes, how much they'll have to change their positions. John, John, Dana, thanks for being here. Don't forget the rest of tonight's political lineup on CNN. At 8:00 p.m., see what everyone is talking about, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards on faith, values and politics. CNN's Soledad O'Brien hosts a special forum tonight at 8:00. And then the debates this week were separate, but tonight CNN presents the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates going head to head on the toughest issues, tonight at 9:00 p.m. The highlights of the debates, the way only CNN can bring it to you.

And straight ahead, chaos on the campaign calendar as states across the nation challenge Iowa and New Hampshire's traditional role as bellwether states and what the heck is a bellwether, anyway? Stick around, we'll tell you for more on RAW POLITICS.


FOREMAN: Hey, no straw for some of the big Republicans. First Rudy Giuliani said he is skipping the Iowa straw poll this summer and after hearing that, John McCain said, now he's out, too. This informal vote by Republicans in the Hawkeye state has long helped decide which candidates should go on and which ones should go home. Both men, however, say they will take part in the Iowa caucus later.

OK, here's the reason that New Hampshire residents get to be the first to vote. In 1915 the primary was moved to coincide with town meeting day. Apparently all these frugal New Hampshirites realized it would be wasteful to light the town hall twice. It seems like a pretty good reason for a tiny state to have enormous political influence. Seriously, why shouldn't we just have one national primary and end all of the silliness? Joining me the quarterback of CNN's political team, Wolf Blitzer and two CNN political analysts, Democratic strategist James Carville and Republican strategist, former Congressman, JC Watts. Wolf, a national primary generally seen as a good idea or a bad idea?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of people would hate the idea because it would eliminate the importance of some of these critical, early states like Iowa. People there would hate that. People in New Hampshire would hate it. South Carolina, now Nevada, they want to have their little say in all of this, the history, the tradition and of course those in the bigger states like New York or California or Florida they say, yeah, sure, bring it on because they want to have their say. And obviously, the bigger the state, the more influence they'll have.

FOREMAN: They're all jumping up. Let's take a look at the map of what happened. About 20 years ago if you studied a map of the United States, this is what it looked like. You had New Hampshire, Iowa over here and South Dakota happening before March. Look at the map now, though. We've got almost half the states moving their primaries up before March and among them are some of the great big states, three of the four of these were states that now are that early. James we have a national primary already, don't we?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Probably do. We're moving toward it. I don't know how you stop it. Once you get a crest going, it surprised everybody, what does this mean? It means money is more important now than it was before.

FOREMAN: What's bad about this, JC? JC WATTS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it's bad that those smaller states lose whatever influence, whatever impact, they have on their election. This last election, in '04, had John Kerry won I think Nevada, New Mexico and Iowa. He could have been the president today. Now, those are smaller states, but had he won those states, he could have been the president. So I think we are trending toward a California, Florida, Texas and New York pretty much driving the process. Oklahoma moved its primary up, you know to February 5th, you know, to be in the mix. And I think you're going to continue to see that. Not a whole lot we can do about that.

CARVILLE: Why should California drive the process more than New Hampshire? What do you tell us (INAUDIBLE) Why should New Hampshire, what's the reason for it.

WATTS: I'm not saying they should drive it more but I think that New Hampshire or Oklahoma should be just as important as California.

CARVILLE: Why should it?

WATTS: No, no. You'll have candidates that will spend all of their time in California, Florida and New York. Oklahoma won't have any say. They would -- their feelings will be left out.

BLITZER: Even though you're going to have a super duper Tuesday on February 5th, all of these big states, you know, are all going to have their primaries, it's still means that New Hampshire and Iowa and Nevada and South Carolina, they're still important. But if you just have one national primary, all these small states, why would any of these candidates going, bother going to New Hampshire, bother going to Iowa?

FOREMAN: Why should normal voters out there, to whom all of this is kind of Greek, why should they care about the primary schedule?

CARVILLE: I'm not sure that they do. But I'm not sure that there's a good answer. Why should a state like Oklahoma that doesn't have three million people count more than a state like California that has over 30 million people? There's not a Washington -- I mean, again, whatever the map is, that's the map that you can have.

FOREMAN: But, Wolf if California and Florida and Texas and New York have spoken, does Oklahoma count at all?

BLITZER: Not really if you're looking at the number of delegates that are going to be selected, the delegates at the Republican convention and the Democratic convention in the summer who will determine their respective nominees. The small states won't make much of an input.

FOREMAN: So does a national primary solve any of this or does it just say, the big money, the big states win?

WATTS: Well, the big money and the big states win. And under that scenario, under the scenario, James that you pointed out, why not just let California decide for Oklahoma? (INAUDIBLE) CARVILLE: Again, again, I'm saying, how do you tell a state that has 30 million people in it it should count less than a state that doesn't have three million people? There's not a good answer to that.

WATTS: I'm not saying.

FOREMAN: What do you say to the state with three million that says, yeah but we got to count.

CARVILLE: Proportional representation. They have delegates at the convention that are proportional to the number of people that they have. It's just like in the electoral college, California counts a lot more than Oklahoma in the electoral college. It should. They have more people that live there.

BLITZER: A national primary it would mean money becomes even more important, it's hard to believe it could be even more important, but money, those who can raise the millions and tens of millions and maybe even hundreds of millions of dollars that becomes indicative of who will get the nomination.

FOREMAN: Do you see any indication that a national primary can be stopped or do you think it's inevitable?

BLITZER: The answer is I don't know.

WATTS: I think it's tough. I think we're trending that way but the thing is, a national primary, we all start thinking like the group. We can't be individual states anymore. Oklahoma don't have the same things in common with California or other states.

FOREMAN: We're going to have to leave it at that. Speaking as a group, by the way a bellwether is a sheep that is used to lead other sheep to the slaughter. So if you wind up lamb chops in this one, you can blame the bellwether. Don't forget tonight's exceptional political lineup on CNN. At 8:00 p.m. Eastern, Soledad O'Brien hosts faith and politics and the at 9:00 p.m., we put together this week's two spectacular presidential debates, led by Wolf into one program, letting you see the Republicans and Democrats stand on the tough issues. Both tonight, only on CNN.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why can we work together?


FOREMAN: Politicians on Capitol Hill getting hot under the collar over who's coming over the border. Hang around.


FOREMAN: And pardon my Spanish!

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON: [speaking Spanish ]

McCAIN: Well, first of all, governor muchas gracias.


FOREMAN: (INAUDIBLE) the nation's largest Spanish language TV network has invited all the presidential candidates to attend debates in September in Spanish. If they want a translator they can have one, but the big candidates will likely avoid the whole thing.

And they aren't the only ones trying to avoid things. Take immigration reform. On Thursday night, the grand bargain died in the Senate. Well maybe it's not entirely dead, but it's certainly on life support. We know that nobody won, but it's darn hard to figure out who lost. Here to explain it all, Dana Bash joining us again from Capitol Hill. And John Roberts, co-anchor of CNN's "American Morning." It was clear from the Republican debate on Tuesday that there was a slight difference of opinion on this issue of immigration.


REP. TOM TANCREDO (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm willing to do what's ever is necessary to try to stop this piece of legislation and that includes go after any Republican that votes for it.

McCAIN: For us to do nothing is silent and de facto amnesty. What we have done is what you expect us to do, my friends, and that's come together with the president of the United States.


FOREMAN: Dana, for all of this talk about winners and losers, doesn't everybody up there feel like they've failed in a way as government, simply because they were unable to move forward one way or the other and put this to bed? We still have more than 12 million people in the country illegally. We still have no consensus of opinion about what we're going to do about it.

BASH: No question about it, Tom. I've got to tell you that having covered this place for as long as I have, you sort of get a feel, kind of a gut feel which way the wind is blowing, as you're standing in the hallways, you're waiting for senators to come out and these intense last minute negotiations trying to figure out if a major bill like this is going to live or die. My gut and the gut of my colleagues really was that there's no way that this particular bill, with all of the fanfare, with all the publicity, with the backing of Democrats, Republicans and the administration, there's no way it could die and then we watched the Senate floor and we watched this vote go on and take place and the procedural vote just end and so it's really, really stunning because as you said, this is something that all sides really thought that they needed to do but at the end, there just was enough bipartisan opposition that this is simply stalled. Yes, absolutely. Those who are supportive of this, even those who didn't exactly like this particular bill but wanted to get immigration solved, they do feel like basically like they are the big losers right now. FOREMAN: John Roberts, we did a whole series last year on broken government. Here's a basic procedural question that I'm sure you can answer for us, why did they quit? They reached an impasse and they walk way. In business, in your churches, in your schools, in your families, you have problems even if you don't want to, you work it out.

ROBERTS: There are certain corporate mergers that do not go through and then you come back and you revisit them at some point in the future because perhaps the climate just wasn't right. Maybe it could be a metaphor for this sort of thing to happen with this immigration bill. There's no question that this was put through fairly quickly. Certainly there were a lot of back room negotiations and there was some debate in the Senate on this. It lasted maybe a week. Where were the public hearings on immigration? How much input was there from outside?

There were a lot of people in Congress both Republican and Democrat who said look, there are serious problems with this bill. We're not going to sign on to something that has been jammed before us like this. The fact that Harry Reid just decided to pull it the way he did has a lot of opponents of the bill irked, people like Trent Lott who said look, we just need another 12 hours to see if we can round up some more votes.

I talked with Democratic Senator Ken Salazar the other day and he said, they're just playing politics with that. They really didn't want the 12 hours. They just wanted to draw this thing out until the schedule expires and then kill it that way. I got some sense of sincerity on the part of some of the opponents of this bill that if they could get it in a shape that kind of agreed with what their views were, they would go for it. The problem was when you look at the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, when you look at conservatives in the Republican side of the equation, they are so far apart, I don't know that there was any compromise that could have been reached.

FOREMAN: Let's take a look at the map and fly into the area we're talking about, where they're talking about building like a fence along. All the candidates are saying that's not the issue. The issue is down toward Mexico, and this question of putting up a border fence reinforcing the border, red areas that we show here. Dana, let me ask you something about this, one of the comments yesterday was that border patrol agents are running through the countryside chasing landscapers. It seems to me though that's sort of the crux of this isn't it? They are well-intentioned, intelligent politicians who see this as an issue of 12 million landscapers and others who are well intentioned, intelligent, who see it as an issue of 12 million criminals. Is that about right?

BASH: Well, you're talking about a classic Ted Kennedy moment on the Senate floor where he said they're running after landscapers. They should be running after terrorists. From his perspective, that was what this immigration compromise was set to solve, to say we need to redirect our border agents and have them go after the bad guys, not people who are maybe from their perspective innocently trying to get over the border. I will say, Tom that yes, this was a disaster from the perspective of all sides who were trying to get this done. But they dusted off their suit jackets. They came back up on Friday morning. They had a press conference and they all vowed that they're going to keep working. They're not going to give up.

But here's the political reality. The reality is that this legislative calendar in the Senate is pretty tight right now and, as you get closer and closer to the election, it makes it almost impossible to get something like this done that is so fragile, so emotional, so divisive. That's why they really thought like this was their narrow window of opportunity.

FOREMAN: And the election is getting closer as we speak. We're out of time. Thanks, Dana, thanks John.

Remember, this edition of RAW POLITICS is only the kick off for a powerhouse political line up on CNN. Tonight at 8:00 p.m., faith and politics with Soledad O'Brien, insights on religion and values with three of the leading Democratic candidates. And at 9:00, the presidential debates like you've never seen them before on the vital issues Democrats and Republicans head-to-head only here on CNN.

Straight ahead, are the real winners those who aren't running at all? Yes, it doesn't make sense. But what does in RAW POLITICS?



FOREMAN: The classic dark horse candidate was Warren G. Harding, picked in a smoke-filled room at the Republican convention of 1920, thus giving birth to two political cliches at the same time. That might be a record.

Are we looking at a late comer, a dark horse coming in to upset the 2008 contest, maybe Al Gore, maybe Fred Thompson, maybe Newt Gingrich, maybe Michael Bloomberg, maybe Chuck Hagel? Might any of them show up and would they have a chance? Look at the polls, maybe they would. On the Democratic side, look at that, Clinton, Obama up but Gore, doesn't even want to be in the race, 14 percent.

And for the Republicans, take a look at this. Giuliani, 30 percent, McCain right behind him. And Fred Thompson, not in the race, at 12 percent.

Joining me to discuss this CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, John King, chief national correspondent again and Bill Schneider our senior political analyst.

Candy, can we have the discussion about the election without talking about these guys?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You can have it without talking about most of them, I think. If you look at tea leaves, there's not a lot that tells me that Newt Gingrich or Michael Bloomberg are getting in. Fred Thompson, you have to watch for. Fred Thompson is in for all intents and purposes. He hasn't filled out his presidential exploratory papers or at least he hasn't filed them yet, but nonetheless, I think you have to look at Fred Thompson as the biggest factor here.

FOREMAN: Bill Schneider, are you as quick to throw Michael Bloomberg overboard and say he won't get in?

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There there's no indication. He's evinced a little bit of interest.

FOREMAN: He has got a Web site that looks like he's running. Someone have this site up?

SCHNEIDER: Well, he has a lot of money. But you need two things to run for president as an independent. You need money, he got that. You need a message. What's his issue going to be, what's his theme? What's he going to campaign on? Is he going to run against gun control? He has the money of a Ross Perot and a lot more besides.

But Ross Perot had a message back in the '90s, it was the deficit issue. Maybe he can make, Bloomberg can make that an issue, the failures of Washington. The best thing he's got is the failure of Washington to respond, the immigration bill, the deficit, all of these issues he can come in and fix things but he's the opposite of Ross Perot. Ross Perot was a populist, Michael Bloomberg is something of an elitist. His message has always been, trust us, we know what we're doing.

And you know what? In New York, it's working.

FOREMAN: John King, how much do you think that would be the message if anyone one of these who came in?

KING: On Bloomberg I think you check back in the spring but all signs are no. But if they mess it up in the nominating process and people are made at both parties, then maybe he would think again. Will any of the other guys get? I don't think so. But they can have an impact.

Al Gore's very anti-war, he is out there doing his climate change thing, he'll be talking a lot, the war will come up when he's talking.

You have somebody like Newt Gingrich who is on the other side of the debate saying leave Iraq and it will collapse and it will be worse and the United States will have chaos in the Middle East. He'll play with the idea of running for a very long time to be active in the debate and there are people who listen to him as days as House speaker.

So they can be influential in the debate but I think Candy is dead right. Fred Thompson will get in in early July and then he's going to have to answer the questions, what would you do, what would you have done, how would you have voted, what comes next? Then he's a politician. It gets hard.

FOREMAN: Bill, how is he going to answer that? Can he answer it well? SCHNEIDER: Fred Thompson? Well, look, he is filling a need which is that conservatives are unhappy with the field. A lot of Republicans are unhappy with that field and they see at least in terms of the image they see Fred Thompson as another Ronald Reagan which is two things, a conservative and a winner. They have some candidates who are conservatives who don't look like winners are some who look like they might be able win but they aren't really conservative enough. Maybe Thompson is both, but that's only an image right now.

How can he do it? Well, probably the best thing he has going for him, someone once made the comment he comes across as Papa Bear at a time when Americans are desperate for a president who can offer them security. He seems protective, someone who is strong. Maybe that will be his issue.

FOREMAN: One of the most successful shows in all of television, that's what he has played. Candy, this is all about image anyway. He's got the image.

CROWLEY: Look, when voters go into the booth to vote in November or when they go into the caucuses or the primaries to vote beginning in January, there is a large portion of that vote that's a gut feeling. You can say all you want - there are Democrats who will vote Democrat, Republicans are going to vote Republican and then others who just have this feeling about somebody. It's sort of an X factor in all elections.

And Fred Thompson projects, you know, a good X factor. He looks presidential, he's played one on TV. There's a lot to it.

But, you know, as John said, this is a man who looks good from the outside. People love politicians when they're not running for anything. Once he gets in, I think you'll see some of that shine come off and people are going to want to know what the heck he's about.

FOREMAN: Do you think that's really going to make the difference, John? There are son so many people who liked Ronald Reagan, who liked Bill Clinton, who in the end just liked him. It wasn't their policy, they just liked him.

KING: Well, it's the old cliche. Who would you like to have a beer with? Who would you like to have a cup of coffee with in the morning? And Candy is dead right. George W. Bush won two presidential elections that people thought he could not win because people liked him.

They found him to be more personal, more friendly, more approachable, like their brother, like their sister, like their neighbor guy than either Al Gore or John Kerry. The Supreme Court was involved in the first one, people could argue that forever. Let's not have that discussion now.

But in terms of getting to the threshold of being president of the United States, George W. Bush was a likable guy. Bill Clinton went through character hell, all the questions about his personal life, about his Vietnam draft status, and guess what? He won an election in the end because he related to people, spoke their language on the issue of the time which was the economy back in 1992.

FOREMAN: Bill, the public seems to want some of these people in. Do the parties want them in?

SCHNEIDER: The Republicans are looking for new alternatives. Every poll shows a lot of dissatisfaction among Republicans with their choices. Democrats seem pretty satisfied as long as they believe they've got winners and right now, some of the polls are very striking in that they're convinced Hillary Clinton can be elected, those electability questions aren't very big right now.

If they arise, then there might be some interest in finding someone else. But let me make a fearless prediction here.

FOREMAN: Ah. This will be good. Let's hear it.

SCHNEIDER: If the Republicans nominate Rudy Giuliani and possibly John McCain there's a very possibility you will get another candidate running as an independent or third party candidate, likely a conservative, splitting the Republican vote who objects to the Republican nominee.

FOREMAN: Do you buy that, Candy?

CROWLEY: Well, you know, it's possible. But it's not -- I don't think at this point that you'll have a third party that can win. Third parties need messiahs, they need someone that inspires people. And there's nobody out there that I think that is capable at this point of leading a third party.

FOREMAN: The whole nation feels like what they need right now. Candy.

SCHNEIDER: We only have 18 candidates.

FOREMAN: Candy, Bill, John, maybe we can get some more.

Straight ahead, "Faith and Politics" take a listen.


JOHN EDWARDS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I've had a day in my 54 years where I haven't sinned multiple times I would be amazed.


FOREMAN: If any politician in America hasn't sinned every day, we'd amazed. But that's just because we have faith in RAW POLITICS. Stick with us.



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Infidelity in your marriage is very public and I have to imagine it was incredibly difficult to deal with. And I'd like to know how your faith helped you get through it.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'll not sure I would have gotten through it without my faith.


FOREMAN: Yes, faith is a comfort, especially in times of impeachment. Seriously, CNN's Soledad O'Brien hosted an extraordinary event where three Democratic conditions spoke at length and their faith and how it guides their lives. We can't speak for God, of course, but organized religion was clearly on the side of the Republicans in last election.

So can the Democrats get that back? To discuss all of this, Soledad joins me now from London and with me in the studio, Democratic strategist James Carville and Republican strategist J.C. Watts. Soledad, let me start with you. Why do you think it's so hard or has been so hard for Democratic candidates to talk about their faith publicly?

O'BRIEN: Partly, I think, because of some of the issues that puts them in a tricky position. You saw John Kerry in '04 certainly dancing and trying to stay away from certain things that as a Catholic were a big problem for him. Also you heard Hillary Clinton in what we have been calling the non-debate debate which is the three candidates talking about their faith and part of it as New Englanders in some cases it's not sort of the way they were brought up to talk a lot about her faith in Hillary Clinton's case, I feel people who talk about their faith a lot are often being untrue, being, you know, being fake in their faith.

So I think that's some of the reasoning which is why it was all the more interesting to really hear, I think especially Hillary Clinton over the last year, certainly we've hear Barack Obama and John Edwards talk about their faith.

But I thought it was really fascinating to hear Hillary Clinton very bluntly, very clearly talk about the role that faith has played in her life in some very public spectacles, frankly.

FOREMAN: Let's talk about Edwards and Obama and listen to a little bit of what they had to say.


EDWARDS: My belief in Christ plays an enormous role in the way I view the world.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We shouldn't be asking whose side God is on but whether we're on his side.


FOREMAN: James I want to come to you. The same question, this sounds a little different from Democrats. We haven't heard them say a lot about this publicly. Why are they doing it now? JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, we have some different Democrats. I mean, in terms of Senator Clinton it's been acknowledged by all of her biographers or call them biographers, that her Methodism played a very important role in life that she had announced (ph) her I think it was when she was in the 10th grade, it was extremely influential.

I think in Senator Obama's case he's been very up front about the church that he belongs to in Chicago and Senator Edwards came from -- brought in South Carolina, came from a very religious family.

FOREMAN: Why do you think there's a sense that Democrats have been reluctant to talk about faith in the past?

CARVILLE: I think a lot of Democrats are.


CARVILLE: Because you know what? I don't really like people talking, you know, what I mean? I've always been taught, brought up a Catholic and people that sort of talked the most about it and the loudest were always the people, you know what I mean? You don't talk too loud and too often. And I found in many instances, in my life that people with the most thought out and deepest faith and the most textured are the people that tend to not shout it quite as loud.

Now I'm not saying that people who shout their faith don't have it or anything like that, but maybe that's just part of a lot of Democrats' feel that way. I don't know.

FOREMAN: Certainly one of most eloquent people in the debates was former Governor Mike Huckabee, an ordained minister. Listen to what he said about his faith.


MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If they want a president who doesn't believe in god, there's probably plenty of choices. But if I'm selected as president of this country they'll have one who believes in those words that God did create.


FOREMAN: J.C., on the flip side of this, does that sort of direct language about God and faith, do you that puts off any Republicans or moderate Republicans?

J.C. WATTS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't think that it does. And I think to change his point in what Senator Clinton said, and I'm not on this show as an ordained minister, however, I am an ordained minister. And I think that anyone that has to remind you that they are a person of faith, you know, there's always something a little tricky about that. I think people should be able to see it in your life. They should able to tell that, you know, you're driven by your faith. I don't think that what Mike has said would turn off any Republicans. I think there are just certain parts of the country if you're from the South, from the Midwest, you grow up, it's a part of your culture, you grow up talking about your faith or relationship with Christ. That's not abnormal.

FOREMAN: Let me go back to Soledad for a moment here, off camera did you have a sense of these candidates that they were really comfortable and glad for this opportunity or ...

O'BRIEN: They were incredibly comfortable. They were incredibly comfortable. And as you heard, these were three people who have great faith and who have a record of great faith in their personal lives, certainly to hear John Edwards talk about his faith and his son Wade died and how he said, my faith came roaring back. He had sort of strayed from the church.

I mean, this something that's he's personally been thinking about for a long time. Senator Obama, too, Senator Clinton too. It's pretty well documented. I think what voters want to see is another side of the candidates. What I thought was interesting as a person who is a person of faith in my own little tiny way, but not a clergy like we had on our panel and doesn't even necessarily know the bible particularly well, but I was interested in knowing more about the candidates. Who are they? These are people who were all challenged in some way and so what I want to know is, tell me more about yourself, who am I maybe voting for, whether it's a Republican or Democrat.

FOREMAN: The core of who they are. Sure.

O'BRIEN: Who are you? In what way were you challenged and what did that do to you? How did that change you? Often, for all of us, Democrat, Republican, whatever, that's your faith that somehow changes your life and helps you deal with whatever's challenging you. And I think we saw that in the three candidates.

FOREMAN: James and J.C., very quickly, let me get back to you with this question. Do you want to see more values voting on the Democratic side first? Short.

CARVILLE: I'd rather see virtue voting. Value, you can have a bad value or a good value. But virtue connotes something good. I think and like a lot of people, a lot of people want one of the reasons some people are reluctant to speak about the faith is they struggle with it. And I think it's, to many people it's a life long struggle. It's one worth, but I think the ultimate quote, "Christian" value, Judeo-Christian value is love your neighbors as yourself, how you treat your neighbor, are you your brother's keeper, I think those are ones to trumpet.

FOREMAN: J.C., you want more or less of values on the Republican side, briefly?

WATTS: I'm not offended to hear Republicans or Democrats either one talk about their faith. I'm very comfortable with that. And I think, Tom, where Republicans miss it is, you know, we say that the life and marriage, that those are values issues, or moral issues. I think poverty is a moral issue. I think AIDS in Africa is a moral issue. I am not driven by those issues because of my Republican registration. I'm driven by those issues because of my faith. And I think we all need to recognize that you know faith doesn't make you perfect.

FOREMAN: We are driven by the clock here, however. Thank you, James, J.C., Soledad as well.

Don't miss a replay of Soledad's groundbreaking special, "Faith and Politics." It's tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Really a terrific show right here on CNN.

And in just a moment a politician who allegedly kept $90,000 in his freezer has his assets frozen. Is that poetic justice or is that just "Raw Politics"? Stick around.


FOREMAN: OK, we're back for lightning round of "Raw Politics" with CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley. Let's get right to. This week Democratic Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana indicted, racketeering, accepting bribes, money laundering, says he didn't do it. Why is this guy still in Congress?

CROWLEY: Well, the short answer is because he hasn't been found guilty of anything, but there are newspapers down in his home state saying, he really needs to get out because he's got a -- we all know what he's going to concentrate from now on.

FOREMAN: The short answer will do.

Republican Senator Craig Thomas of Wyoming died Monday, Bethesda Naval Medical Center, long fight with leukemia. Talk about his replacement, who will be a Republican, being the vice president's wife, Lynne Cheney. Is that going to happen?

CROWLEY: I don't think it's going to happen. Lynne Cheney has a full-time job just being wife of the vice president. She's a big name out there, she is a well-respected academic, she has the wherewithal to do this job. I cannot imagine her doing it. Bring me back later and you can call me a liar but I don't think so.

FOREMAN: See what the Republicans have to say about that.

And politics doesn't get any rawer than this, good heavens, porn king Larry Flynt at it again, full page ad in the "The Washington Post" saying I'll give you $1 million for dirt on extra marital affairs involving leaders of the government.

Does this make Washington nervous or do they just laugh at it?

CROWLEY: I'm tempted to take the pass you said I could take here. But I will say I think probably Larry Flynt already has what he wants which is people talking about him. I don't know that there are nervous people in Washington at this point. FOREMAN: Don't know if it's going to make any difference.

All right. Thanks for playing the lightning round of RAW POLITICS. Don't you go anywhere. Best words of the week in RAW POLITICS are coming right up.

On the red carpet, the stars are swirling in the political heavens. Katharine McPhee has jumped on to the Clinton bandwagon, Star Jones checked out the Dems' debate, the ever intense Bono and Bob Geldof making a ruckus at the G-8 hoping for help for Africa and "Oceans 13" uber coolsters, Matt Damon and George Clooney want help for Darfur, too. Oh, by the way, please go see our movie.


GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: Basically this film is a cry for peace. And we ...


FOREMAN: Break out the popcorn. More RAW POLITICS straight ahead.


FOREMAN: Well, like the immigration bill, we've run out of time. So we leave you with this week's words worth watching. Trent Lott on the Senate floor.


SEN. TRENT LOTT, (R) MS: If we can't do this, we ought to vote to dissolve the Congress and go home and wait for the next election.


FOREMAN: Yeah, promises, promises. Thanks for joining us on RAW POLITICS. I'm Tom Foreman. Straight ahead, a check of the headlines. Then CNN's "Faith and Politics," Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards discuss faith, values and politics.

And at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, CNN presents the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates going head to head. Don't miss the debate.


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