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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP



HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN



JOINED BY: ELEANOR CLIFT, LAWRENCE KUDLOW,


MATTHEW REES, AND JIM WARREN



TAPED: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2000


BROADCAST: FRIDAY AND SATURDAY ONLY FEBRUARY 18-19, 2000



.STX



 


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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.


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ANNOUNCER: GE is proud to support the McLaughlin Group. From plastics to power generation, GE: We bring good things to life.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: On South Carolina eve, it's still Bill.



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX): (From videotape.) You disagree on issues. We'll debate issues. But whatever you do, don't equate my integrity and trustworthiness to Bill Clinton. That's about as low a blow as you can give in the Republican primary.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Some people are erroneously saying that President Clinton has no role in campaign 2000. Actually, Clinton dominates the campaign and dominates the election. Clinton is the campaign's decisive factor in this sense: Call it OOB, O-O-B, the Opposite of Bill requirement. The candidate who is least like Clinton wins. After seven years of scandals and denials, voters want honesty and integrity in their candidates. They reward those who boldly say what they believe, not the candidates who calculatingly say what they think voters want to hear.



This is a big reason why McCain has scored points with the electorate. He was the first candidate with a steady drumbeat of Clinton attacks.



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): (From videotape.) We know the corruption that's taken place in the Clinton and Gore campaign as a result of the 1996 election and the unlimited campaign contributions.



The people of this country are suffering from Clinton fatigue, and it's because they want someone who will look them in the eye and tell them the truth.



SEN. MCCAIN: (From videotape.) And it is the beginning of the end for the truth-twisting politics of Bill Clinton and Al Gore. (Cheers.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's only a sampling of McCain's Opposite of Bill -- OOB -- litany. And McCain is no longer alone with this strategy. Bush and Keyes too are using more anti-Clinton rhetoric.



ALAN KEYES (Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) If we don't go out and attack that moral flank exposed by Bill Clinton's lying, perfidy, oath-breaking, and utter shameless betrayal of our moral heritage, we will lose, and we'll deserve to.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Democrats have the same challenge. Gore's vulnerability has always been TLC -- Too Like Clinton. His months-long struggle to get out from under Clinton's dark shadow was set back by challenger Bill Bradley's accusations of Clintonesque lying. Gore can't afford to be branded as TLC when the voters are looking for the OOB -- Opposite of Bill -- factor.




Question: How can you tell Clinton dominates the South Carolina race, Lawrence Kudlow?



MR. KUDLOW: Well, there's no question that that is the topic that's on everybody's mind, both in -- you know, with the candidates, with the voters, and with the pundits right now.



I think there's an irony here. You're right; McCain's the guy who seized on this first, and he became the non-Clinton candidate. The irony, though, is almost a year ago, George Bush, who was everybody's front-runner, thought the path to victory was being the non-Gingrich candidate, the non-Newt Gingrich candidate. But in reality, Gingrich has faded from the scene as the Republicans in Congress have sort of imploded. And McCain gets to be the non-Clinton candidate and is riding the crest of that wave.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?



MS. CLIFT: Well, John, you missed the "same as Clinton" element of the campaign. I guess we call the SAB ingredient.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)



MS. CLIFT: I think John McCain won in New Hampshire with a tax package that was described as "Clinton light." And on issues, remember compassionate conservatism? If Bush does win the nomination, he'll bring that back out again.



Clinton is such a commanding presence on the political scene that he has framed this election, and it's going to be run on Democratic terms. And he's taught us all how to compartmentalize. That nasty little personal misbehavior? That's off to the side. Al Gore is doing well because he's benefitting from the connection with Clinton.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Matthew Rees?



MR. REES: I would go with TTT -- Taxes, Talk and Town meetings. The fact is, as Eleanor points out, that the Republican tax plans do have a lot of similarities to the Clinton tax plan. The town meetings are in some ways a Clinton creation. This is not something that, say, George Bush was doing in 1988, and now his son, George W. Bush, has been forced to do it. And then talk, the straight talk, that what the candidates are trying to do is not sound like Clinton, and that's what caused some problems for George W. Bush early when he sounded like he was parsing words and couldn't quite say exactly what he meant.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A poll shows that 63 percent of the people believe integrity and honesty is foremost, and a command of issue only 8 percent think is foremost in a candidate. So what he says is true, except possibly for taxes. I'm not sure that's registering.



What do you divine?



MR. WARREN: The question? Oh, excuse me.



I think the premise is overstated here. I think Clinton was right at his press conference the other day when he said well, if you can't berate me for the economy, if you can't criticize a lot of my achievements, well, then go after me -- which is what they're doing, but I'm not sure to what effect. If you're Alan Keyes, if you're Governor Bush, or if you're John McCain, you're preaching to the choir; they all think that Bill Clinton is moral scum, so whose vote are you going to change there?



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to pick up your point. The president did respond in his press conference to the Bush-McCain-Keyes attacks. Listen. Here's a master at work, the consummate politician, weaving a searing criticism into a legacy tapestry.



Sir, how do you like being targeted by the candidates in the Republican presidential campaign?



PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: (From videotape.) I have a lot of sympathy with Governor Bush and Senator McCain, I mean, it's hard for them to figure out what to run on. They can't run against the longest economic expansion in history or the lowest crime rate in 30 years or the lowest welfare rolls in 30 years or the progress America has made in promoting peace around the world.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: With that kind of ingratiating cleverness, is it really smart to be O-O-B, OOB, Opposite of Bill, or is TLC smarter? What do you think? The TLC meaning Too Like Clinton.



MR. WARREN: Impressive admission of contrition on your part here.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Chuckles.)



MR. WARREN: Really -- let's make sure we see that once again.



Again, the fact is, if you look in South Carolina, you drive around South Carolina, you see also the Clinton impact. You see 4.4 percent unemployment. And even though there may well be a pretty decent turnout in the primary, I think overall there's an apathy there when you talk to a lot of people because times are good.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but I would think people hear, when they hear McCain talking about reform, they hear him saying, "No more Monica, no more Filegate, no more Travelgate, no more Chinagate, no more controlling legal authority." That's what they hear, don't you agree?



MR. KUDLOW: Yeah, I do agree. I think it's really a sort of anti-sleaze factor which McCain is taking advantage of and actually is hurting Al Gore because Gore is going nowhere in the national polls.



MS. CLIFT: Well -- (laughs) --



MR. KUDLOW: But I want to rebut two points here on the prosperity in the economy. It's McCain who has the "Clintonesque" tax-cut policy, not George W. Bush. And I think Bush is now gaining some stride because he's stuck to his --



MS. CLIFT: Yeah, Al Gore is --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Let him finish. Let him finish.



MR. KUDLOW: One additional point.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.



MR. KUDLOW: Alan Greenspan could be the Darth Vader of this campaign that no one is considering. Greenspan gave a brutally harsh testimony last week before Congress; the stock markets are crashing as a result of that.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's wrong?



MR. KUDLOW: I do think Greenspan is completely wrong. But whatever I think, there's 80 million investors who will vote. If their portfolios are down 25 or 30 percent by November, then the Clinton factor is going to hurt on the economy as well as the sleaze factor.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.



Eleanor. Quickly!



MS. CLIFT: Of course the economy right now is a big benefit. But there is no Republican running who will ask the question: "Are you better off today than you were eight years ago?" because they know the answer will be yes.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, mclaughlin.com. In response to e-mail requests for information on the offending Bob Jones University website alluded to on last week's show, the URL appears on the screen now, and it is on the front page of mclaughlin.com, where you can find it.



When we come back, the South Carolina horse race; McCain and Bush down to the wire, the numbers.



(Announcements.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: The Horse Race.



South Carolina is a make-or-break race for Bush and McCain. The numbers at press time, in the final day's run-up: NBC/Hart-Teeter poll, Bush 44, McCain 38, six-point margin for Bush; USA Today-CNN-Gallup poll, Bush 52, McCain 40, a 12-point margin favoring George Bush.



Question: What do these poll figures tell you? I ask you, Lawrence Kudlow?



MR. KUDLOW: Well, if you believe these poll figures, I think one thing it tells me is Bush really won the last debate. And I think that that was semi-ignored by the media, as they watched it. You know, Bush scored heavily, I think, on his Republican across-the-board tax-cutting plan and his limited government.



McCain made two big mistakes: Number one, he resurrected "no tax cuts for the rich," a terrible mistake; and number two, he actually suggested that we might have to send troops into Rwanda. That was a big mistake.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You will agree, will you not, that the transformation in George Bush is marked? H e has become a hard man, he has become an alpha male, he has become focused and tough in a way that I don't think anybody thought was possible.



MS. CLIFT: He is a good political operative, and he is playing an alpha male.



But you listen to his rhetoric. It is unbelievably shallow. He doesn't know about a lot of things. It's full of cliches and slogans. And this notion that he is a reformer is such a transparent steal from John McCain. Nonetheless -- you know, he is fighting back. I give him credit for that, but he is still --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But he has mastered that --



MS. CLIFT: -- a very weak candidate compared to what the Republicans thought they were going to get.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He is a reformer with results --



MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- as opposed to McCain, who is a reformer with zero, except enemies from his own peers, his fellow senators, 38 of them, who don't like him. (Laughter.) Is that true or false?



MR. REES (?): Well, I think that Bush may be somewhat of a reformer. I think his campaign finance proposal is bogus, and it was clearly just a response to McCain.



I think one of the key exchanges in that debate in South Carolina the other night was on Warren Rudman and what position he might have in a McCain administration.



Warren Rudman has gone out of his way to offend the Christian Right, refer to them as "bigots" and "xenophobes." This is something that I think the Bush campaign is going to be emphasizing more. You haven't heard a lot of it yet, but you will soon.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you believe in my diagnosis that the transformation in George Bush is extreme, that he is marked?



MR. REES (?): It is marked. It is sort of Gore-like on the Republican side, I agree. Who knows? If he is an alpha male, is Naomi Wolf working for him or against him --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I was wondering that. Maybe she has been secretly -- surreptitiously advising him, huh?



MR. REES (?): I am not sure.



But I also disagree with the premise here of this primary necessarily as "make or break," unless there would be, in sort of the New Hampshire mode, a very surprising huge victory in this case for Bush, which I don't think one will see. But these two guys are going to head off to Michigan on Tuesday, and then they'll really resolve it on March 7th.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can we not assume that this race, since it appears to be very tight, that it could be a draw? By a draw, I would think that that would mean if there is only a 2 percent margin between the two.



And let's say that on the losing end of that draw is McCain. Don't you think that McCain can recover inasmuch as Michigan, which is coming up next Tuesday, is an open primary, which means Democrats are okay, that independents are okay, as well as the GOP?



MR. WARREN (?): A draw is definitely a win for McCain because McCain is not running on funds; he is running on fumes. And if he can just maintain this momentum of doing well in each primary, he can go on for quite some time. Bush has the money to keep going, but if it looks like he can't win, everything will fizzle.



MS. CLIFT: Michigan is a major state and a diverse state, and it really will show whether he can draw enough votes. And his argument that he is more electable and he can beat Al Gore is good. But when you think of the turnabout in this race in just a few months, Al Gore is now the formidable opponent, the $73 million candidate is running out of money, which is extraordinary, and you have a fight for the soul of the Republican Party between two moderates. The Christian right --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Running out of money? He's spent about $50 million, he's got $20 million left. But the point is, Eleanor, that the money has not been spent in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina only; it's been spread out because they've been thinking about the primaries that are ahead.



MR. KUDLOW: But there's another point. There's another important political point here. It is simply not sustainable for John McCain to be losing Republicans by 20 points and conservatives by 30 points, and it is not sustainable for McCain to be winning Republican primaries on the backs of Democrats and some independents.



MS. CLIFT: Why not? The Republicans --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've got to move on. I want to ask another question.



MR. KUDLOW: If Bush can win South Carolina by a small amount, it's going to turn the tide and he's going to start rolling --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. But if McCain -- at what point is McCain out of the race? How badly would he have to lose in South Carolina? Would it be 5 percent, 3 percent, 10 percent, 8 percent?



MR. REES: I think more than 10. He would have -- and I think really John McCain will stay in the race at least until California, where he'd have to do well if he's going to be a viable candidate.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Bush out of the race if he loses Saturday? I ask you.



MR. WARREN: No, absolutely not. And McCain's not unless he gets whomped. Sorry, Larry, that issue to the Rwanda question will not undermine his candidacy unless he gets whomped by about 20 points.



MR. KUDLOW: You know, Bush was --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to point out that what's key to McCain's success is independents and Democrats, who are voting for him. The Democrats are going through a crisis of conscience now because they don't know, if they do elect McCain, if he wins in the fall, that he's going to be a stronger candidate up against George Bush. So they're confused, and they may not turn out in large numbers, although the expectation is that they rather will, although the weather's going to be bad in South Carolina.



The others are the independents, and they can go into this South Carolina race. And I would also point out, if you look at the screen, you will there see the wide-open GOP primary states, which means Republicans, independents and Democrats, they're all okay to enter: Michigan, Virginia, Washington, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Vermont, Tennessee and Texas, adding up to 10 races. The semi-open states, however, where there are no Democrats, independents only, are Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Colorado and Utah. There are five of those primaries. Then the closed primaries are these: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maine, New York, Florida, Louisiana and Oklahoma. They're closed. Republicans only.



You will note that California and New York are Republicans only, which means that if this thing goes all the way and McCain is depending upon independents and Democrats, then he's going to run out of some steam after Michigan next Tuesday, is he not?



(Laughter.)



MR. WARREN: I dispute your meteorological analysis. A nice day, good votes in South Carolina on Saturday. A lot of --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think there's going to be a big turnout of independents and Democrats?



MR. WARREN: A lot of independents, a lot of Democrats. Maybe -- who knows? If it's a nice day, some of your country-club Republican friends may get in a second round on Hilton Head and may not go to the polls.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I thought you were saying that turnouts at the political events were shallow.



MR. WARREN: No, no, no. The turnouts for John McCain were overflow. Interestingly enough, though, they were getting a little smaller this past week.



MS. CLIFT: You know how --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out. Who wins South Carolina Saturday? Quickly.



MR. KUDLOW: Bush is going to win South Carolina. And an answer to your question is yes, in places like California, New Jersey, which are closed, Bush wins easily. McCain is not really the Republican choice.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.



MS. CLIFT: I'm going to waffle. I mean, Bush -- it looks like Bush is going to win. But because of the Barone rule that you only want to be wrong once, I'm going stick with McCain. (Laughs.)



MR. REES: McCain wins narrowly because of Democrats and independents.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? Despite that 12-point margin?



MR. WARREN: Alan Keyes does surprisingly well after that TV appearance --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He wins? (Laughs.)



(Laughter.)



MR. WARREN: -- surprisingly well. And a plurality for McCain --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A plurality for McCain?



MR. WARREN: -- of two points --



MR. KUDLOW: (Laughing.) This mischief-making is exactly what the problem is in these primaries. Close the primaries for Republicans.



MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm staying with Bush, narrowly.



Issue three: Hillary Takes aim at Rudy.



OFFICER SEAN CARROLL (defendant in Amadou Diallo case): (From videotape.) I lifted up his shirt a few inches, and I observed two bullet holes to his lower midsection. I said, "Oh, my God." And I just held him, his hands. I rubbed his face. "Please, don't die." (Weeps.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So testified Sean Carroll, one of four New York City police officers on trial for murder in the shooting death of West African immigrant Amadou Diallo.



Carroll and the three other officers, part of an elite special crimes unit, approached Diallo around midnight in February 1999. The 22-year-old street vendor fit the description of a rapist they had been pursuing in the Bronx neighborhood.



The police ordered Diallo to put up his hands, press reports say. He didn't. He seemed nervous. He fumbled in his pants pocket. An officer shouted, quote, "Gun," unquote. Another fired at Diallo, then lost his footing, fell off a step, breaking his tailbone, according to accounts. Thinking that that officer had been shot, the other officers started shooting. Forty-one bullets were fired. Nineteen hit Diallo.



When the shoot-out ended, the police looked at his prostrate body and discovered the worst:



OFFICER KENNETH BOSS (defendant in Amadou Diallo case): (From videotape.) His right hand, it was -- it was out from his body. His palm was open, and in it was a -- what should have been a gun was a wallet.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Grave as that error was, it was wholly unintentional, say police defenders. But that's not how New York Senate candidate Hillary Clinton portrayed it. Two weeks before the trial started, she called it murder.



HILLARY CLINTON (New York Senate candidate): (From videotape.) Senator Schumer, I know, who was here earlier, gave a speech after the tragic murder of Mr. Diallo, in which --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That characterization provoked criticism. "How would you like to be on trial for your life and have the first lady of the United States move to your state, with her degree from Yale Law School, and pronounce you guilty of murder before the first witness has been sworn in?" asks columnist Jim Dwyer of the New York Daily News. Hillary's statement reinforced suspicions that Mayor Rudy Giuliani has given police a pass to use such force.



But New York's records show otherwise. One: Fatal police shootings down from 30 in '96, to 11 in '99, a 63 percent drop in four years. Two: Complaints of police brutality down by half since '96. So, what's behind the harsh criticism of Giuliani? "New York's liberal establishment is out to discredit Giuliani's greatest achievement, the spectacular reduction in crime, by floating a powerful story line tied to the Diallo case. But the story line is untrue." So writes columnist John Leo in U.S. News.



Question: Is John Leo right, the liberal establishment, notably Hillary, is using the horrible Diallo shooting to discredit Giuliani's spectacular record of crime reduction? Matthew Rees?



MR. REES: I think they are trying to use it. This has been a theme you've seen in New York for quite some time. What I think is revealing is, on the one hand, she says this was a murder; on the other hand, she was asked whether she would return the campaign contribution of one of your favorite music stars, I know, Sean "Puffy" Combs, who has been indicted on weapons charges, and she said no, she wasn't going to prejudge and she was going to keep the money. I can just see the New York Post headline coming: "Hillary Panders To Puffy, But Not To Police."



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember what happened after the Rodney King first verdict? There were riots. Do you think Hillary Clinton can be charged with provoking riots in New York --



MR. WARREN: No. Point of --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- as happened in L.A.? Do you think that's extreme, fanning the flames of racism?



MR. WARREN: Yes. Point of information. She admitted she misspoke in the use of that word "murder." But I think this could be very interesting because even a lot of liberals will concede -- which is why I think that premise is wrong -- that Rudy's crime legacy is a positive one. But where this gets tricky is if these cops, which could happen, are acquitted. The prosecution evidence on premeditation was non-existent. Their evidence on reckless disregard was pretty weak. What does she do then? Because for sure, if there's an acquittal, there will be trouble in the black --



MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, Hillary changing her mind, like she changed her mind on giving a tip to that waitress, it depends on which way the winds, she discovers, are blowing.



MS. CLIFT: No --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She does it all the time. How can you credit any big dishonesty there?



MR. WARREN (?): But if she wants the support of someone -- a good of yours -- like Al Sharpton; if there is an acquittal, Sharpton is going to be very --



MS. CLIFT: Look. Well, that --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. That's what she is trying to do; she is trying to consolidate the black vote behind --



MS. CLIFT: Well, no, wait a --



MR. REES (?): Right. Right.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Eleanor?



MS. CLIFT: She did say she shouldn't have called it a murder. But the prosecution was charging with murder; I mean that, you know, she overstated it, and you shouldn't prejudge.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before the witness was drawn?



MS. CLIFT: But --



MR. WARREN: Yeah. What about the rights of the accused, Eleanor?



MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. But Giuliani's prosecutor was calling it "murder" as well, and she did take back that word.



Second of all, it is a jury with three blacks on it. They have been given a range of possible sentences. It's probably going to be a mixed verdict. And the people who feel that Giuliani has gone too far -- there is a lot of resentment in the minority community that his no-tolerance policy basically targets them.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll give you five seconds.



MR. KUDLOW: I just want to say; this is a big political mistake for Mrs. Clinton because she is throwing her lot in with the black activists in the African American community. Her weakness in this race all along is she is getting clobbered among white women voters.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.



MR. KUDLOW: And they prefer Giuliani's crime record. So this is a huge mistake by Mrs. Clinton.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. I was in New York last week. And I can tell you New Yorkers love the new feel of safety in their streets.



MR. KUDLOW: Absolutely. Absolutely.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that's why all of this is going to boomerang against her.



MR. KUDLOW: It's -- (inaudible).



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with predictions.



(Announcements.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Assume a narrow defeat by Bush on Saturday. Can he create a firewall in Michigan on Tuesday?



MR. KUDLOW: Yes. Bush can win Michigan. He is an underrated politician.



MS. CLIFT: No. And he'll rue his appearance at Bob Jones U.



MR. REES: No. The Engler machine is overrated.



MR. WARREN: No firewall. Engler machine is overrated. (Laughter.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No firewall.



Next week, the Arizona-Michigan GOP primaries.



Happy President's Day. Bye-bye.



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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: The Deformed Party.



The Reform Party was crashed last week by both its highest elected official and its richest could-be presidential candidate.



GOV. JESSE VENTURA (Independent-MN): (From videotape.) I am disaffiliating myself from the national Reform Party completely as of this day. This is a party that's dysfunctional, that isn't going anywhere.



DONALD TRUMP (real-estate tycoon): (From videotape.) I am not going to be running. The party is, as you know, self-destructing.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Ventura-Trump one-two punch shook the Reform Party to its roots. After Ventura defected, his hand-picked party chairman Jack Gargan was quickly toppled at a chaotic weekend meeting. His replacement: Ross Perot's 1996 running mate and Pat Buchanan's former campaign chairman, Pat Choate, a big win for Buchanan and his platform.



Let's cut right to the chase. Who will be the Reform Party nominee, and will he win in the November election? I ask you, Matthew Rees?



MR. REES: Well, I think Pat Buchanan has to be the favorite right now. I highly doubt that he will win anything in November. I think it's too bad that Jesse Ventura pulled out because the Reform Party is now looking more and more like the World Wrestling Federation. (Laughter.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The talk now is whether or not a movement can install John McCain, if he wins in South Carolina, to become the nominee. So he would be a dual nominee in that instance. Now, what do you think of that?



MR. WARREN: That's falderal. He's already said he's not going to accept their nomination. What would be interesting to contemplate, if Buchanan is the nominee and he rides particularly your favorite issue, the chaplain's issue, to great notoriety -- whether in fact he helps McCain, if McCain were the Republican nominee, by somehow taking a bunch of independents and Democrats with sort of the anti-establishment impulse, but a little bit wary of Pat Buchanan's sort of brand of it.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the way, if Bush wins the nomination in South Carolina, then Buchanan, under this plan, would have become challenged by Ross Perot because Ross Perot has such distaste for George W. Bush.



MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, Pat Choate has said it's illegal in 35 states to run on two lines, so McCain can't be the Republican nominee and the Reform Party nominee.



But I think if McCain feels cheated by the Republican Party establishment, if he does win some primaries here, but feels edged out by big money and negative ads, he may smell the presidency and run on the Reform ticket.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've got to ask this question right away. If Buchanan wins the nomination and he runs in November, what would he come out with, what percentage of the vote?



MR. KUDLOW: I think it's going to be a small percentage.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What percentage? Five, four, three, two?



MR. KUDLOW: Three to 5 percent.



MS. CLIFT: I give him 8 percent. (Laughs.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think? Eight percent? Generous. High.



MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Big deal!



MR. REES: About five.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five.



MR. WARREN: Three.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is seven.



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