THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: LAWRENCE KUDLOW, TONY BLANKLEY,
ELEANOR CLIFT, AND JAMES WARREN
TAPED: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2000
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 11-12, 2000
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: A house divided.
DICK CHENEY (GOP vice presidential candidate): (From videotape.) I would simply add to what the governor said, that we look forward to getting this matter resolved as quickly as possible so we can get on with the important business of transition.
WILLIAM DALEY (Gore campaign chairman): (From videotape.) I believe that their actions to try to presumptively crown themselves the victors, to try to put in place a transition, run the risk of dividing the American people and creating a sense of confusion. Let the legal system run its course.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Late this week in Austin, Texas, Governor George Bush assumed the mantle of the president-elect and began appointing the transition team.
In Nashville, the defiant vice president, through his campaign chairman, Bill Daley, vowed to contest the election through the courts, claiming the Florida victory belongs to Gore.
Question: Where will this political brinksmanship end? Are investors spooked? And is a sell-off in foreign markets likely?
MR. KUDLOW: Well, I think when Mr. Daley unleashed his spurious reasoning and put his war paint on, U.S. markets just cracked apart and, frankly, have not recovered since. The NASDAQ, which is sort of our central technology-driven market, now is down 11 percent for the week on virtually no economic news; it's all political uncertainty. People are seeing things that are happening that are not supposed to happen. There's a view that there's a "Latin Americanization" going on, where like Peru or Venezuela, if the government doesn't get the right election results, it keeps having votes until it gets the right election results.
Foreigners do not understand this. The dollar could be shaky. I mean, there's just an uncertainty premium placed on the market, which may wind up, John, taking a slowdown economy and putting it into recession because people are going to freeze their capital investment unless this thing gets resolved quickly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: First of all, we have a president in place until January 20th. And I'm sure he'll be happy to stay in overtime, if need be!
But the Republicans are acting as though Al Gore is trying to steal the election when he is raising legitimate questions about the ballot process in Florida. And it seems to me it is in every bit as much Governor Bush's interest to resolve this in a way so that people feel confident that the right person has been elected. And the notion that this is somehow unfair -- the courts are our system of replay in this country; it's the sports equivalent when you get the replay, maybe the losing side doesn't like it. But we have every right, I think, as Americans to see this process play out in the court of law.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony Blankley?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, Eleanor, it's not just the Republicans, it's the New York Times, which endorsed Gore, which wrote in their editorials, in the last part of this week, that we were lurching towards a constitutional crisis if Gore unleashes his lawyers. So that's a very serious situation we're in. He's about ready to cross the Rubicon surrounded by a platoon of lawyers. And as you know, the Rubicon was crossed by Julius Caesar when he challenged the legitimacy of the Roman Republic.
And the question is going to be up to Gore, and Gore alone, as to whether when the final votes are in, he accepts it or whether he unleashes a legal holocaust on us.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In that connection of lawyers, Roll Call, which is a sheet put out dealing with Capitol Hill, takes note that the vice president has been soliciting, in the last few days, urgently, money from big fat-cat lobbyists in Washington to pay for the lawyers team that he wants to recruit in Florida. So if he is elected president, he's going to be millions of dollars in indebtedness to these lobbyists. What do you think of that?
MR. WARREN: You'd prefer him soliciting the money from the homeless here in Washington? Do you think that would be more pragmatic?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about journalists who wear such extravagant neckwear?
MR. KUDLOW: Well, there were parts -- (inaudible).
MR. WARREN: Journalists who wear such extravagant neckwear will be so discreet as to not mention certain hosts' predictions of an overwhelming Bush victory, so I promise not to do that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A victory is a victory.
MR. WARREN: I think Bush, former Secretary of State Baker and allies such as Bob Dole make an okay case for not putting the country through an emotional ringer, creating doubt not just for our foreign allies, but specifically for Larry Kudlow's stock portfolio. But nevertheless, I don't see what the great cause is for concern, because --
MR. KUDLOW: But Gore --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have something besides wit to offer us today?
MR. KUDLOW: (Inaudible.)
MR. WARREN: The -- hold it -- the economy is quite prosperous. We're at peace. Bill Clinton is doing a fine job, and little old ladies in Tokyo or Vienna are going to be just fine for a while if the process plays out a little bit longer.
MR. KUDLOW: Jim --
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)
MR. KUDLOW: Jim, with all due respect, look again. The economy is slumping. You've had a string of really bad economic reports. The stock market is having its worst year since the early 1990s. And I have to say, also respectfully, Eleanor, there is no history or tradition in this country where the courts involve themselves in the politics of elections. Look, recounting votes is fine, but when that arithmetic is over, it is over, and Al Gore has got to stay on the right side of the Rubicon, as Tony put it.
MS. CLIFT: First of all, the Republicans are matching the Democrats lawyer-for-lawyer. The Republicans are trying to prevent recounts to go forward. And right now, the focus is on some 6,800 ballots in Broward County that apparently were Democratic, were not counted because the punch hole didn't go straight through. So we've got a week ahead of counting before we start talking about Rubicons. Let's see what the counting -- what at the numbers add up to, let's get those overseas ballots in, and then maybe it's time for one of the candidates to gracefully concede.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. No matter who wins, is the new incoming president a lame duck from the second he finishes his inaugural address, being unable to keep his campaign promises, whether it's privatization in part of Social Security, or gun control, if it's Al Gore, because of a divided electorate, a divided House and a grisly divided Senate? I ask you.
MR. KUDLOW: No, I think the office is well worth having, and the agenda can be recreated. You know, 40 years ago, Kennedy, in a very close one, but two years later, he started getting his tax cut program through Congress to fight the sluggish economy, and I think George W. Bush can do exactly the same thing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: If George W. Bush wants to govern this country and he is the victor, he's going to have every bit as much trouble getting those huge programs -- the tax cuts and the privatization -- through Congress, given the makeup of the Congress, and it's in his interest to have this election ratified by the people and by the courts.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Tony? The first 100 days is supposed to be a honeymoon for new policy initiatives. Is this going to be a nightmare for either one of these candidates who becomes president?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I mean, I think it's likely to be extraordinarily difficult. Right now, the process where we should be starting the honeymoon now, we don't have it. Instead, we have this. And when it gets -- the Congress is going to be unmanageable on both sides, with their perfect balance. However, it is also a challenge, and the challenge creates an opportunity for a new president to accomplish something, and if Bush can accomplish by very carefully selecting bills, such as the bankruptcy bill, the marriage tax penalty, the death tax, which had big Democratic votes in the last Congress, he might be able to start building towards a Social Security reform.
MR. : Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think a way of relieving the deepening rancor, which is going to be full-blown by the time this gets settled, that the new president would be required to make appointments to his Cabinet from the opposite party? Would that be a way to do it, and would it be inevitable, in this instance?
MR. WARREN: It might be inevitable. It's going to have nothing to do with getting through the legislative promises that these guys have made.
You'll probably be happy to know that, as Tony suggested, there would be some marriage tax penalty relief, but even happier to know you'll probably get some estate tax relief. A President Gore also is not going to get through lots of money for crumbling schools; he's not going to get through some of the targeted tax cuts he wants. And I know it's going to be of deep, deep chagrin to you that if Bush is elected president, that some of the notions that have scared liberals about wacko, right wing Supreme Court nominees going through; it'll never happen. One good thing about this is it guarantees that any nominee is going to have to be distinctly mainstream.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think it's going to be a nightmare. And I think that, like -- there are three predecessors wherein the electoral college chose them for the office; they'll all be one-termers, and two out of those three were just disasters, and the other one had a difficult time.
MR. : No --
MS. CLIFT: I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we come back: Can false and poisonous network reporting like that of last Tuesday night be controlled without violating the First Amendment?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Florida hurricane.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: (From videotape.) We find around the state, various irregularities. They've undercut the credibility of a great election.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Democrats in Florida are gearing up to charge fraud and try to enlist the media behind their cause.
Foremost in their bill of particulars is the alleged faulty design of ballots in Palm Beach County that they say caused 19,000 voters to punch the ballot twice, thus voiding it.
The back and forth between the Gore and the Bush camps has been intense.
WARREN CHRISTOPHER (former Secretary of state): (From video.) -- that that ballot was confusing and illegal and that rising out of this is the need for redress.
JAMES BAKER (former Secretary of State): (From video.) The ballot in Palm Beach County that has been alleged to be confusing is a ballot that has been used before in Florida elections. It is a ballot that was approved by an elected Democratic official. It is a ballot that was published in newspapers in that county. And hey, guess what, there were no complaints until after the election.
WILLIAM DALEY (campaign manager for Al Gore): (Form video.) Because this disenfranchisement of these Floridians is so much larger than the reported gap between Governor Bush and Vice President Gore, we believe this requires the full attention of the courts in Florida.
KARL ROVE (Campaign manager for George W. Bush): (From video.) In fact, I really thought it was ironic that Chairman Daley went to great lengths to decry the butterfly ballot as confusing and undemocratic because I have here the copy of the Cook County, Illinois judicial ballot, which is a butterfly ballot. Maybe Mr. Daley's in a better place to decry democracy and confusion in Cook County than he is in Florida, if that's really the case.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mr. Daley hails from Illinois and is the son of the legendary Chicago mayor, Richard Daley.
Question: Warren Christopher says the Florida ballot is illegal. On Friday, the Florida state division of elections declared this, quote, "The Department of State has reviewed the Palm Beach County ballot and has found the order of the ballot complies with the law; and the design and the layout of the ballot -- those conform to the laws of the state of Florida. How unlike Warren to try to prove too much. Tsk, Tsk.
Can we now say the ballots are perfectly legal, or is Gore going to challenge the state of Florida?
I ask you, Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: Does Warren call you John? I didn't know you were on a first-name basis with the former secretary of state.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we take a certain poetic license here on the show.
MS. CLIFT: Right. Look, Warren Christopher doesn't use words cavalierly. He's going to assess whether there is solid ground for a legal challenge, not only on this but perhaps in other areas. And if there isn't, he's going to tell that to the vice president and the vice president will do what's right and concede if the challenge isn't there and if the recount which continues, and the handcount which continues, and those overseas ballots -- nobody really knows how those votes are going to go. We've got a week here before Al Gore has to decide whether there's any rubicon to cross.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's take a look at the ballot. We have a something of a close-up here. You see that arrow pointing to that hole, which is a partially perforated hole which has to be punched out in this computer design ballot? Now, as you can see there, that's a pretty clear hole, is it not? If you were voting, would you have any difficult seeing that at your advanced age, James Warren?
MR. WARREN: I would not. And it's another reason why I think the national media obsession -- which I include you on this particular Palm Beach problem -- is silly. In fact, there are much more substantive problems that have played out, particularly in Broward County, where there were 6,800 votes in which people punched the hole but, for one reason or another, the hole didn't go all the way through the piece of paper and wasn't recorded, wasn't recorded one way or another as a vote in a county which Gore won by 61 percent, suggesting there are several thousand votes there for him.
MS. CLIFT: In defense of --
MR. KUDLOW: Hang on a second. You've had a shot at this.
MS. CLIFT: In defense of the Palm Beach voters, apparently the punch holes didn't line up when they were on the machine, so that gives it --
MR. KUDLOW: Oh, for heaven's sake, Eleanor! (Laughter.) So now --
MS. CLIFT: They're the ones who are complaining, Larry. And I think they have an opportunity to air their --
MR. KUDLOW: So now we should take it to court and Venezuelize this election. I mean, lookit. The people of Palm Beach --
MS. CLIFT: They have a right. They have a right to complain.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, let him speak.
MR. KUDLOW: They have a responsibility. That's what they have.
MS. CLIFT: They have a right to complain if they feel they've been cheated.
MR. KUDLOW: There's a difference between an entitlement and a responsibility. The people in Palm Beach are among the richest in America. They know how to read.
And John is making the key distinctions here, because when Mr. Warren Christopher goes from confusing to illegal --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right!
MR. KUDLOW: -- that is an extraordinary (jump ?) shift --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At the least.
MR. KUDLOW: -- which ill behooves his entire legal background. And he should be much more circumspect because eventually they're going to have to back off, as everyone knows.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have a question for Tony. In 1974, case law was established by reason of what appeared to be an impossibly complex and long Republican primary ballot. And this is what the court decided:
"It has been observed that the Constitution" -- that's the Florida Constitution -- "intended that a voter search for the name of the candidate of his choice. Furthermore, it assumes his ability to read and his intelligence to indicate his choice with the degree of care commensurate with the solemnity of the occasion. It has often been held that one who does not avail himself of the opportunity to object to irregularities in the ballot prior to the election may not object to them afterwards."
Finally I would point out that on the wires on Saturday, a school psychologist who gave a test to his eight-year-old county elementary schools in Leesburg, Georgia, in which he introduced their favorite Disney characters using a ballot similar to the one that has caused controversy in Florida's Palm Beach County, not one of the 74 young eight-year-olders marked a choice they did not intend to mark. Okay?
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So can we move to something more substantive?
MR. BLANKLEY: Wait.
MS. CLIFT: Florida --
MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor, it's my turn.
MS. CLIFT: Florida columnist --
MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor --
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me! Florida -- (inaudible) --
MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor, you've already -- no, it's not your turn. It's my turn.
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I won't excuse me.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish.
MS. CLIFT: Florida columnist Carl Hiasson, who is a well-respected Florida columnist, said there are more votes for Yasser Arafat in Palm Beach County than Pat Buchanan. And --
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. Look. You've already had your turn on this topic, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: And Pat Buchanan says that those are not his --
MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish.
MR. BLANKLEY: -- and he doesn't want them. And that is what has prompted this --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, he says he does want them. And he says some probably were mistakenly voted for him.
MR. BLANKLEY: Three points. The vast majority of voters in Palm Beach got it right. Point two, not only is the question of whether the ballot is legal or not, but what the remedy is. There's a specific Florida law that says the time to object is before the election.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right!
MR. BLANKLEY: Point three, the people who claim that they were confused didn't claim it when they left the ballot box. They thought they had cast a vote. The next day, when they're roused up by the rabble rousers, they come out and say they were confused. Nonsense.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. In fighting to win, is it true that both Bush and Gore may destroy their unique political assets? Yes or no? And if so, what is each of their unique political assets? I ask you.
MR. KUDLOW: I think that, you know --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's Bush's unique political asset?
MR. KUDLOW: Well, Bush is hanging on his integrity, and I think it's a strong asset. And I think if the shoe is on the other foot and he loses the recount, he's going to pull back. I think he's going to protect himself.
MR. BLANKLEY: He's bipartisan.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I ask -- I'll tell you what his unique political asset is -- is that he is a healer.
MR. KUDLOW: Yeah, he's a healer.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's a mediator.
MR. KUDLOW: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's had extraordinary success as the Texas governor.
MR. KUDLOW: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's why people like him -- on both sides of the aisle.
MR. KUDLOW: And --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And now he is faced with this grim division.
And the asset of Gore is what we talked about earlier -- prosperity. That asset is being put at risk by the longer that this contest is extended.
MS. CLIFT: But this is going to be over, probably, in a week. And the stock market --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, is that inside information?
MS. CLIFT: -- and the stock market is -- the voting is going to conclude next Friday, and it will probably be concluded.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute now. Are you making news here? I know you've got contacts into the Gore -- into the Gore household --
MS. CLIFT: It's up to the vice president to make news, not to me.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. Let me --
MS. CLIFT: But this -- in all probability, this is going to be over in a week. And if not by then, it'll be over before the electors meet.
But the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's not bad exit question. Do you agree with that?
MR. KUDLOW: I do agree with it, because, among other things, the stock market here is going to be a powerful regulator on this whole story.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you agree with what she just said -- it's going to be over by next Friday --
MR. BLANKLEY: I would hope --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- which is the 17th --
MR. BLANKLEY: I hope --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- when the certification report is going to be issued?
MR. BLANKLEY: I hope she's right, but I have -- it was reported in the media late last week that Gore believes that he's the legitimate winner of this election and therefore has plans to do everything necessary to regain his legitimacy.
MR. KUDLOW: Well, then he's --
MR. BLANKLEY: If he actually believes that, then it's not going to be over --
MR. KUDLOW: Then he's going to destroy the whole Democratic Party.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. WARREN: About the collective asset here that might be undermined, the only thing I can see as a collective asset of these two gentlemen is the way they put 50 percent of the American voting public to sleep, into a state of utter passivity. So I don't think much is going to happen.
But I can see -- even though Gore is probably hankering to litigate this forever, I can see by next Friday, once everything is in, win or lose, and one of these guys concedes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's too close to call. (Laughter.)
Issue three: Anchors away.
Tuesday night was a wild, hurtling, madcap ride. At 7:49, before the polls had closed on the West Coast and even in Florida's northern Panhandle, the first network, NBC, projected the winner of the all-important battleground state of Florida: Al Gore.
Within 11 minutes, the other networks also called Florida for Gore.
Then, just two hours after that, the anchors all reversed themselves. "Hold it," they said, "Florida is too close to call."
Then, four hours after that, the anchors reversed themselves again. "Florida is a Bush win," they said.
Then, in less than a hour after that, the anchors reversed themselves yet again. "Florida is not a Bush win," they declared. "It's too close to call. It goes into the 'undecided' category."
Bush's chief strategist, Karl Rove, took note of the networks' outrageous and irresponsible projections that hurt Bush in two time zones.
MR. ROVE: (From videotape.) And the polls were still open for about 35 minutes after the point at which most of the networks had called Florida for Al Gore. There are states, like Ohio and West Virginia, in which the Bush margin was substantial, and yet they did not call those states.
It particularly hurt us on the West Coast, where literally people got up and walked out of our phone centers when Florida was called, and went home.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Did the networks demonstrate political bias in the states they chose to call early, and quite irresponsibly, and poisonously, and in the states they called late, do you think?
MR. WARREN: Absolutely not, but I think the problem here is the networks still refuse to let the political process unfold on its own, for reasons of power, money, and competition. They have just got -- involved themselves in it. I think the only way to handle this is not through regulating the media, but altering the process, maybe having a 24-hour, one-day vote on a weekend. Everybody goes to the polls -- West Coast, East Coast -- at the same time. Everybody leaves at the same time. Then let them do their exit polling.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, regulation is okay, because it's the public airwaves, and the government has the right to regulate --
MR. WARREN: First Amendment. Will never happen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also, you could get into --
MR. WARREN: First Amendment. Never happens.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- you could get into ballot tampering if what Rove says is true, which I happen to believe is correct.
MR. WARREN: It will never happen. Won't happen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In three time zones -- three time zones, three-quarters of the United States -- their early prediction had a damaging impact on the fortunes, the political fortunes, of Bush. You can't tell me otherwise.
What do you think?
MR. KUDLOW: You know, I'd like to say that the big networks are liberally biased, and maybe they are. But I don't think that was the issue here. The Voter News Service has got to do some more work spiffing up their --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to salvage this exit poll projection?
MR. KUDLOW: Well, look, you're not going to be able to stop it, John. They have to do a better work on the stats.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why can't you stop it?
MR. KUDLOW: Because it's a free country; that's why you can't stop it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You can't stop the exit polling --
MR. KUDLOW: You can't stop it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- but you can stop the projecting, by reason of the limitation of the use of the public airwaves for destructive impact.
MR. BLANKLEY: Wrong.
MR. KUDLOW: The mistake the networks made --
MS. CLIFT: You can't suppress --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you're destroying the electoral process or you're damaging it, you can do that!
MR. WARREN: Wrong. Wrong. I mean, the networks -- what about the Internet? What about radio? It will never happen.
MR. KUDLOW: Yeah, you can't do it.
MS. CLIFT: You can't suppress information.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Those aren't the public airwaves.
What do you say to that?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I agree; I don't think you can stop it. Whatever their intent was, the effect was to suppress Republican votes in the Western panhandle of Florida.
MS. CLIFT: What happened is, if the networks had not called Florida for either candidate, we would be looking at a race today where Al Gore is leading in the popular vote, and it's too close to call in Florida, instead of giving the edge, actually, to Bush.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The networks have befouled their own nests, and it will be a long time before it's forgotten.
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction: Who will be the next president of the United States?
MR. KUDLOW: George W. Bush.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Too close to call! (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: Either Bush or Speaker Denny Hastert.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James Warren?
MR. WARREN: I don't know.
MR. KUDLOW: Ah!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Come on, Jim, let's go!
MR. WARREN: No. Playing neutral journalist.
MR. BLANKLEY: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll get you steroids.
The answer is: W.
(Begin PBS segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: President for a day. On election night, Vice President Gore called Governor Bush to concede the election to the governor. Then Gore called Bush again, when he was in his limousine, two blocks from the Nashville War Memorial, where he would deliver his concession speech. Here's the exchange, as reconstructed by aides in both campaigns:
Gore: Circumstances have changed since I first called you. We have now learned we are down by only about 600 votes out of millions cast, and that means an automatic recount. I need to withdraw my concession until the situation is clear.
Bush: Let me make sure I understand; you're calling me back to retract your concession?
Gore: You don't have to get snippy about this.
Bush: The Florida governor told me that Florida is in my column.
Gore: Let me explain something; your younger brother is not the ultimate authority on this.
Bush: Mr. Vice President, you need to do what you have to do.
Question: Did the irresponsible predictions of the networks cause this souring between the relationship between these two candidates and their supporters?
Do you understand the question, James?
MR. WARREN: Oh, yeah, these were --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In other words, what provoked it was the networks.
MR. WARREN: These were birds of a feather, coo-some-two-some, close friends -- (laughter) -- and Peter Jennings and Dan Rather and Brian Williams went and spoiled it! It's all their fault.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's burlesquing it. But do you see what I mean?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I see what you mean, but, unfortunately, James is right. Obviously --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they were -- you know, they were not exactly Siamese twins, but --
MR. BLANKLEY: There was a high level of hostility both between them and their camps, more so than I've seen in other presidential campaigns, and the media thing only made -- sort of the added fill-up at the end.
MR. KUDLOW: At that point, for heaven sakes, though, the lead -- they had already given Florida back. The lead was 55,000 votes, and it did drop to 600 votes. And, frankly, I think Al Gore did exactly what he had to do.
But the bigger point I want to make is this: If George Bush had run a stronger last week of that campaign, covering the DUI properly, covering the Social Security attack properly, he would have won by 5 to 7 percentage points and had nothing to do with these goings on.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the surge -- the surge -- we were too late to get it because we had taped that before the surge started. But the surge of last week was almost totally unnoticed by almost all of the pollsters, with the exception of Zogby.
MR. KUDLOW: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In fact, all except Zogby.
MR. KUDLOW: Right. Zogby gets --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Although Zogby called Lazio wrong in New York.
MR. KUDLOW: Zogby gets very high marks on this.