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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, TONY BLANKLEY, ELEANOR CLIFT AND LAWRENCE O'DONNELL

TAPED: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2002
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 9-10, 2002

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Bush blowout.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) The best way to win an election is to -- is to earn the trust of the voters, and that's what happened in state after state after state. We had some really good candidates who overcame some pretty tough odds. They were running against incumbents, a lot of cases, and they ran great races.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Great races" is right, sir, and the numbers say it all. In the U.S. Senate, a two-seat pickup for the GOP, which means the Senate is now back in Republican control, and that control is invulnerable to a reversal by any single potential defecting Republican. In the U.S. House, a stunning five-seat pickup for Republicans. This was the first time in almost seven decades that the president's party gained seats in both chambers in a mid-term election.

Question: What's the scope of this Bush tsunami, looked at more or less geographically? Let's say South; New England, even; Midwest; West. Michael?

MR. BARONE: Well, I think the scope is pretty big, John. We've had a sort of deadlocked country in the last three elections, 49 percent for -- 49 percent and 48 percent for president. We've had 49 to 48 percent popular vote for the House of Representatives. This time nationally it was 52 percent popular vote for the Republicans and House of Representatives, 46 percent for the Democrats. That's based on preliminary figures and may be off a point, but it's very similar to the 52-45 popular vote in 1994, when Newt Gingrich's so-called revolutionaries swept into power. And it is a bigger margin for the Republicans in the South, but they ran ahead of the Democrats by a significant margin in the Midwest. They ran slightly ahead in the West and only narrowly behind in the House seats in the East. So the East, which has been a bastion for the Democrats, was less so this time.

I mean, John, this election really reminds me very much of 1962, when I first start following these elections district by district. You've got a president from a famous political family elected by a narrow margin, dismissed by the opposition and much of the press as a lightweight and as fraudulently elected. You have times of international peril and sluggish economic growth. And I think voters tended to see George W. Bush as a strong leader who should get support from the Congress. They tended to see the Democrats as oppositions who were using cheap political tricks and, on the issue which they talked -- tried to talk about the most, the economy, had no alternative plan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of that, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Well he sketches a scenario of good versus evil. I don't think it's quite that simple. The Republicans picked up two Senate seats. This is not like the 12 seats Ronald Reagan carried when he was elected in 1980 or the 54 House seats that Tony Blankley and Newt Gingrich brought in 1994. It's not even the five seats the Democrats picked up in 2000, which almost cost the Republicans control of the Senate.

Nonetheless, it has a huge psychological impact, and the president and the Republican party now control all the levers of government, they've got all the committee chairmen in the Senate, and now they're going to move ahead with their agenda. And frankly, they talk pretty moderately when they run, but they govern pretty much to the right. And I think now you're going to see much clearer lines between the two parties, and that may not serve the president well when he's looking for reelection in 2004.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, have you looked at the solid South, if I can use those words, perhaps a little prematurely?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes. Yeah -- no, this is a -- you point out an important piece of this, the Clinton insurgency into the South. In the Clinton years, Democrats learned to run and win in the South, and this is pushing that back in a fairly dramatic way and returning it to a more solid Republican South. I think that's a critical geographic piece of this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can we talk about a few states now, then, like Alabama --

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, Georgia --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- South Carolina, or say Georgia --

MR. BLANKLEY: Well Georgia, of course, was the most dramatic, where Governor Barnes got knocked off, perhaps in part on the Confederate flag issue. But then Saxby Chambliss beat the incumbent Democrat, and that was a fairly impressive come from behind.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's the incumbent Democrat? Mark Cleland?

MR. BLANKLEY: Max Cleland --

MS. CLIFT: Max Cleland.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Max Cleland?

MR. BLANKLEY: -- who was a triple-amputee from Vietnam, and Chambliss accused him, I think from a policy basis, of being soft on defense. It was a tough charge to make, but in Georgia, they don't give any slack to a wounded vet.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So stay on South Carolina for just a bit before I turn to Lawrence, who's a great authority, particularly on matters up in New England -- (laughter) -- and he's probably still in mourning. Are you in mourning about New England?

MR. O'DONNELL: No, not at all.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No?

MR. O'DONNELL: I'm a big boy about these things, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but you're not a big Mitt Romney fan, are you?

MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.) Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are or you're not?

MR. O'DONNELL: -- we'll get to that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, we'll get to that.

On this South Carolina -- can we talk a little bit about South Carolina being in the solid South to some extent, or moving in? Then there was the Dole win in North Carolina.

MR. BLANKLEY: A solid Dole win in North Carolina. And South Carolina -- by the way, in South Carolina, you see one of the Gingrich freshman impeachment prosecutors coming into the Senate, Leslie -- Lindsey Graham. And between him and Talent, who was also part -- not a freshman, but a part of the Republican -- Gingrich group --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And now where is he?

MR. BLANKLEY: He's from Missouri. He beat Carnahan. And the two of them are two of the most talented younger politicians, I think, in the Senate; I view them as the stars of a very soon-to-come tomorrow.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's something to be said, of course -- a lot to be said about what happened in Texas. That was a huge win for the president. And we'll get into that in just a moment, but I --

MR. O'DONNELL: But what it was was a must-win for the president.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MR. O'DONNELL: I mean listen, John, I mean the Republican president holding onto Republican positions in Texas, his home state --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they had a dream ticket out there, the Democrats did.

MR. O'DONNELL: It didn't turn out to be a dream ticket -- (laughs) -- it turned out to be a losing ticket.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was nightmare ticket.

MR. O'DONNELL: It was a losing ticket. It was a losing ticket.

Look, I think you had -- I think you had -- what made the difference was a series of individual mistakes made by individual candidates like Max Cleland in Georgia. Max Cleland was no Sam Nunn. Sam Nunn was successfully reelected in Georgia as a Democrat with huge margins because he was a conservative Democrat. He was a careful, conservative Democrat who did not risk the wrath of Georgia voters. Max Cleland did. He voted to the left of Sam Nunn consistently --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he voted also against the -- was it the homeland security --

MS. CLIFT: Well, he voted --

MR. BARONE: I think that -- John, I think that homeland security was very important, because this was a mistake made not just by Max Cleland but by then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. I mean, this is one of the case (sic) where he took a position that I think was politically unsustainable, by giving the unions more power over Department of Homeland Security forces than they have had since John F. Kennedy in all the federal government and paying off the debt that the Democrats owe to the unions, who pour lots of money into their campaigns.

MS. CLIFT: No, that's not true.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right --

MR. BARONE: That was foolish.

MS. CLIFT: That's not true.

MR. BARONE: He should have folded.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know --

MR. BARONE: He should have folded early, and he should have told the unions what Tony Blair told the Labor Trade Union Congress this fall, which is there are some things you just can't have.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, excuse me. That's not true.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Now we're running very late. We're running very late here, and we have to talk a little bit about the proxy races. I want to get into that.

But first of all, give me a little bit about New England. First, you've got a race up in New Hampshire. A man by the name of John Sununu won that race. Don't you regard that as significant?

MR. O'DONNELL: Holding on to a Republican seat --

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. O'DONNELL: -- a very, very strong Republican candidate, a much stronger Republican candidate than the incumbent --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But against -- and against a woman governor in that state who is very popular and a fierce campaigner?

MR. O'DONNELL: This is a guy who already won in that state.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And also he had the problem with Bob Smith and the write-in ballots, and he still won. You don't want to credit him with that?

MR. O'DONNELL: It's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to say anything about Mitt Romney --

MR. O'DONNELL: New Hampshire electing a Republican senator is news?

MR. BLANKLEY: Wait, wait. Let --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make a point about both Sununu and Dole. They both ran proudly on Bush's partial privatization of Social Security and won anyway.

MR. BARONE: Individual investment accounts, please.

MR. BLANKLEY: And I think that this shows that this may be the end of the Democrats being able to play the Social Security card. Bush got 49 percent of the senior vote in Florida. So I think this is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. We want to get to --

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, this is the gift that the Republicans will now give to the Democrats. They will go for privatization of Social Security, they will go for drilling in ANWR, they will roll back --

MR. BLANKLEY: It's a gift they may give the nation. It's a gift they may give the nation.

MS. CLIFT: Those are policies that the broad expanse of the public do not favor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And don't forget now, there are a couple of moderate conservatives who have been elected to the Senate. One is Dole, and the other is --

MR. BLANKLEY: Coleman.

MR. BARONE: Norm Coleman in Minnesota, who opposes the president on a couple of issues, like --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Coleman and also the North Carolina -- the South Carolina --

MR. BARONE: Oh, Lindsey Graham's pretty conservative.

MS. CLIFT: Lindsey Graham is not a moderate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lindsey Graham is -- he's not a real right-wing conservative.

MR. BLANKLEY: He's a solid conservative.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So they may -- those numbers may be enough to defeat any effort at Social Security privatization, or any more tax cuts.

MR. BARONE: But John, a lot of the House Republicans were nervous about the Social Security issue, and they in turn accused Democrats of being for, quote, "privatization" -- the dirty word -- for supporting the proposal that President Bill Clinton made in 1999 to have the government take some of that Social Security taxes and invest them in Social Security. Polls show, though, that voters like the idea of individual investment accounts when it's presented in those terms and without changing current benefits.

MS. CLIFT: Right. Yeah, the president --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But -- wait a minute.

MR. BARONE: And the president has the big microphone on this. I don't think it's going to happen till 2005.

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: Michael has the biggest microphone. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Let me talk about proxy races, please.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. Fine with me.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A proxy race is a race where the candidate is a kind of stand-in for the president. You have the president campaigning for a man by the name of Thune in South Dakota, against Johnson. Johnson's a Democrat. Johnson won, but it was very narrow.

Then you have the president's brother running in Florida. The president's brother I think won by what, how many points?

MR. BARONE: Fifty-six, 43 -- 13 points.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was a little slow in coming there. Can't you really spit it out? (Laughter.)

Thirteen points. That's certainly --

MR. BARONE: Well, the president's brother also had a job rating of 56 percent, which helps.

MS. CLIFT: Right. He got a lot of help from his family -- money --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This was the first time any Republican --

MR. BARONE: He got a lot of help from his record of four years in office.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- any Republican governor has ever been reelected.

MR. BARONE: That's correct.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: First time ever.

MR. BARONE: That's correct.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jeb Bush. So I guess that wipes out any scarring that was left over after the contested election there. What I'm getting at is Jeb Bush was a proxy for his brother -- in effect.

MR. O'DONNELL: Jeb Bush was the governor of Florida before his brother was president.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know. But he still was a stand-in.

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. O'DONNELL: President Bush had a golden opportunity to be able to campaign for himself in Florida, a state he arguably lost, depending on which way you want to interpret it. And it was very important for him to go there for himself and his own campaign --

MS. CLIFT: Absolutely.

MR. O'DONNELL: -- and that's what worked here.

MR. BARONE: Lawrence is right.

MS. CLIFT: And you could also argue that George W. Bush is a stand-in for Jeb, because he's waiting in the wings --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me -- let me --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me! I get to finish. He's waiting in the wings to succeed as a possible candidate in 2008. This is a new political dynasty we're watching.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make one -- let me make one general point, because some of these technical analyses, there may be some validity in them, but I think you miss the larger point. Usually -- I've been on both sides in parties -- when a party loses --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the larger point?

MR. BLANKLEY: The larger point is that the first analysis coming out the losing party is that "we lost for technical reasons," and you can point to all these different technical reasons.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's not what Martin Frost was saying hot and heavy this week.

MR. BLANKLEY: No. And that's not what our guests -- our colleagues on this show --

MS. CLIFT: I don't believe I made that case.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- that's what most of the Democrats are saying.

MS. CLIFT: I didn't make that case.

MR. BLANKLEY: That's what Gephardt's saying, that's what --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I'm listening to Eleanor. She's not saying that at all.

MR. BARONE: Well you don't speak for the Democratic Party, Eleanor, you speak for yourself.

MS. CLIFT: (Off mike.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are the other two -- there's one more proxy state. What is it?

MR. BARONE: Well, I think, you know, you could call any of these proxy states in the sense that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where did he really campaign and it really paid off?

MS. CLIFT: Minnesota.

MR. BARONE: He campaigned for Saxby Chambliss in Georgia --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There you go. Saxby Chambliss --

MR. BARONE: -- and for Norm Coleman in Minnesota.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. All of these proxies came through like a heavenly gift for George W. Bush.

MS. CLIFT: Well, and -- and they --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In other words, the man's power is so massive -- (laughter) --

MS. CLIFT: And they came through because he manipulated the talk of war to the point where he was asking the country to send him allies to Washington -- a loaded term in the current context.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, if you --

MS. CLIFT: He made this a referendum on himself as a war leader, and it worked.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A presidential visit, providing it comes within 72 hours, because then it kind of runs out, can add four to five points to some --

MR. BARONE: But, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And what he did was, he flew all around the country. How many states did he visit?

MR. BARONE: He hit 15 states, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that paid off, did it not?

MR. BARONE: Oh, John, I think what the White House did, under the direction of Karl Rove, the president's aide, that was quite spectacular, was not just limited to the president's campaigning in the recent part. I mean, Rove is genuinely a political genius, and he's also a person that pays attention to details and plans ahead. They had --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. We got to get out.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me just quickly point out --

MR. BARONE: -- they had a superb operation, they put it ahead a long time. No White House has ever had a -- (inaudible) -- like Karl Rove is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think Karl Rove is a genius?

MR. BARONE: Yes.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me just quickly --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he a sinister genius?

MR. BARONE: No!

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me just quickly point out that in 1986, my old boss, who I love, Ronald Reagan, did the same thing, and it didn't help. The fact that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did he do?

MR. BLANKLEY: He ran around over the week before the election trying to elect Republican senators, and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe he was too far removed from the election day.

MR. BLANKLEY: No. No, no --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It begins to evaporate after 72 hours.

MR. BLANKLEY: He had a very similar run. My point is that Bush was able to connect with the voters in a way that Reagan wasn't in the off-year elections, that Clinton wasn't in the off-year elections. This isn't an automatic "gimme" or --

(Cross-talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. We got to get out. I want an adjective -- I want an adjective to describe the extent of the invincibility of the president's power now to enact his legislation. Is it truly invincible, the power that he has? Is it limited? Sharply limited? Is it greatly limited by reason of the composition, the closeness in the Senate, let's say, even the closeness in the House? In other words, just because there is a massive trifecta here, does that mean that the president has unlimited power? How would you describe the president's -- to effect his policy and programmatic changes?

MR. BARONE: John, I think it's limited, in part because under Senate rules, nobody controls the Senate. The Senate needs 60 votes to do some things, it needs more than that to do other things.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you would say limited. Would you put an adverb on the "limited"?

MR. BARONE: I think it's somewhat limited. I think he's got to come up with some policies on the domestic side, and I believe he will, that will be new initiatives --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MR. BARONE: -- that will be popular enough to cross party lines and get through.

MS. CLIFT: It's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!

MS. CLIFT: With a 51-seat majority, it will be limited. You have to have 60 votes in the Senate to really get anything. He does have an advantage on judges. He'll get a lot more of those conservative judges confirmed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exactly.

MS. CLIFT: So it's essentially --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a strong opening thrust.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And also the Supreme Court, if there's a vacancy there.

MS. CLIFT: Well, that will be a bigger fight.

MR. BLANKLEY: Power's a dynamic thing. It can shrink or expand, depending on how it's exercised. Right now it looks limited. If he exercises it well, if he plays his hand right in the Senate, if he beats them on a couple of 60-vote rules, he could turn it into a much more powerful instrument. But it depends on how smart he plays it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's good in building those coalitions that he needs? Of course he is. He's proven that in Texas. How much --

MS. CLIFT: No, he never proved it --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you describe the power he has?

MR. BARONE: He got 62 votes for the tax cuts.

MR. O'DONNELL: It's the slightest possible increase in power. It will get him judges because that's a committee exercise and they do have a majority in committee that will deliver him the judges. Judges tend not to be filibustered on the floor, those nominations. But legislation will not move any faster, because 52 votes in the Senate is nothing. And you've got to remember there are Republicans in Maine and New England who will not be with the president on a lot of --

MR. BLANKLEY: There are 19 --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We got to get out.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- 19 Democratic senators up for reelection in the next election cycle. He only needs to get eight of them to vote with him to beat cloture in the Senate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's so good having you --

MR. O'DONNELL: He needs way more than eight. You've got to remember, he doesn't have all 52 on almost anything.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is to my question -- and it's so good to have you back on the show. You're absolutely right.

MR. O'DONNELL: It feels good to be back on the show.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the reason -- one reason why you're right is there's more softness in the Senate than most people realize.

MR. O'DONNELL: As always.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit. Did Bush -- no, that's the exit question. We'll now move on, if we may. When we come back, Democratic discombobulation. Why did Nancy Pelosi say that her fellow Democrats were suffering from, quote-unquote, "cowardice"?

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Democrats divided and conquered. Finger-pointing among discombobulated Democrats after Tuesday's election rages. First, the acknowledgment of the minority leader that change is needed.

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO): (From videotape.) I'm sorry we lost the election, but I'm proud of what all our members did. But in the end, talking with my wife in the last day, I came to the conclusion that I needed change and my caucus needed change.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he ought to feel sorry for leading his party to losing six seats and playing the moderate game throughout?

MR. O'DONNELL: Look, there was no game plan politically for him after September 11th. It was a completely uncharted political territory. And to criticize how well they did -- I think someone has to tell me what he could have done to do better, and I haven't heard that.

MS. CLIFT: Well, he was going to leave anyway, I mean, he wants to run for president. I don't know what the slogan will be, "I lost the House, maybe I can lose the presidency, too?" (Laughs.) But, there's a lot of personal anger against him among Democrats because he was so out front with Bush on the war, he's out front on the tax cuts.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: It's somewhat of a departure from his earlier positions.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: And, you know, if you're an opposition party, and you don't stand for anything different from the White House, why do you exist?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor -- Eleanor, Dick Gephardt led his Democratic Caucus into a centrist position. And that's what caused Nancy Pelosi to refer to the cowardice within the House of Representatives on the Democratic side.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, we've got Martin Frost, who made a valiant effort to appeal to his membership to accept him as their new minority leader -- got nowhere. Nancy Pelosi is it, although we do have a contest still going with young Ford, right?

MR. BARONE: Harold Ford of Mississippi (sic).

MS. CLIFT: Harold Ford.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Harold Ford, correct.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah --

MR. BOUCHER: John, let me --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But what I'm getting at is this is a real split, it's a traumatic split, is it not?

MR. BARONE: John, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Pelosi's going to be in there --

MR. BARONE: John, can I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- is Pelosi going -- let me get this guy, let's let him talk a little bit.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's going to happen with Pelosi and the House of Representatives?

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, it's quite an experiment, taking someone like her and putting her into this leadership position. But when you -- when you look at the Democrat -- who's on the leadership track in the House -- and there are separate tracks, people have to understand, there are -- you choose whether you're going on a committee seniority track or a leadership track -- they have no bench on that leadership track.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, Pelosi --

MR. O'DONNELL: They have no one better than Nancy Pelosi.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pelosi hewed the liberal line, or position, I should say, with regard to Iraq, if there is any such thing, when you have Pat Buchanan on the other side of the Iraq issue with the conservatives.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But she took a very, what? Critical position --

MS. CLIFT: Well -- yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- she took a critical position, didn't she, on homeland security?

MS. CLIFT: She voted against the war resolution, but she's on the Intelligence Committee. She doesn't oppose the White House every step of the way.

MR. BARONE: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She has not?

MS. CLIFT: No. But the White House will brand her as a San Francisco liberal --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: -- and in fact, that's what she is. But this job is where you mount an opposition, where you inspire the base --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, do you --

MS. CLIFT: -- and this is what they have to do at least the next year --

MR. BARONE: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor -- just let me finish. I'm sure you took note of the fact that the single congressional -- the single member of the House of Representatives in Indiana, a woman by the name of Carson --

MS. CLIFT: Julia Carson.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Congresswoman Carson, took a very tough position against Iraq, and she won out there.

MS. CLIFT: Right, and she won in a shaky district.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In a shaky district. Do you think that the Kennedys and the Gores, who took a position ought to have been taken, and since there was no other way to go, they couldn't get anything else on the front page, they should have said, "Hey, forget Iraq and turn your attention to al Qaeda, because of A, B, C, D and E," the way Gore and Kennedy did?

MS. CLIFT: I think that would have been a responsible position, and that wouldn't label you as a member of the "loony left," because -- (inaudible due to cross talk) --

MR. BARONE: John, John, John, how about letting this side of the table have a word in here occasionally?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it was a mistake -- well, wait one minute. Let me get one -- all right. Let me get one answer for him. Do you think that that should have been the position taken a couple of months ago, when they saw there was no way of getting Iraq off the front page?

MR. O'DONNELL: Look, I would like to believe -- and based on my experience in the -- working in the Congress, I do believe -- that the positions people took on this -- on war with Iraq were taken based on policy, not based on political --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you believe that?

MR. BLANKLEY: Look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do believe that?

MR. BARONE: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead.

MR. BARONE: John, I think that's the real problem here for the Democrats. If they allow the "loony left," of which Nancy Pelosi is not a part -- she's part of their left -- to take control, because so many of these people have a hatred and a contempt for George W. Bush that is wildly out of sync with the view of the large majority of Americans --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So what's the point?

MR. BARONE: That they will take --

MS. CLIFT: They're not coming into control.

MR. BARONE: Eleanor, you had your say.

MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.)

MR. BARONE: That they are going to take America out into the left wing. And when you saw what happened at that Paul Wellstone memorial service that turned into a political rally --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

MR. BARONE: -- Minnesota voters, as I said on this program, turned against it and rejected the candidacy of Paul -- of Walter Mondale, person that's widely respected in the state. That is a risk that the Democratic Party's got to take now. An opposition party to a popular president has no easy choices or obvious way to win. But I think this choice is full of risks that the Democrats do not appreciate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I want to be clear on your conclusion. Are you saying that Nancy Pelosi and the liberals in the House are going to move the Republican -- the Democratic Caucus into a strongly liberal position?

MR. BARONE: I think they will end up taking an awful lot of left positions, which risk letting the Bush-haters set the tone of the Democratic Party, which would be a disaster for the Democratic Party.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, yes. Look, look, let me get --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. BLANKLEY: The choice in an opposition party is either "me- tooism" or stark opposition. Pelosi's going to lead the House Democrats into sharp opposition. There are about 30 Democrats who are conservative, who are going to have a very difficult time, and they could -- the Democrats could well shrink down substantially in the next election cycle, before they rebuild up at some point in the future, Pelosi hopes.

MS. CLIFT: Stark opposition does not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We got to get out!

MR. BARONE: The emerging Democratic minority!

MS. CLIFT: Stark opposition does not have to be Bush-hating the way you characterize it -- (inaudible due to cross talk) --

MR. BARONE: It doesn't have to be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. We got to get out. We got to get out.

MR. BARONE: (Inaudible.)

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

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me a percentage: to what extent the outcome of this election was owing to Democratic failure?

MR. BARONE: Twenty-five percent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Twenty-five percent.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, I think 60 percent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sixty percent. No coherent vision.

What do you say?

MR. BLANKLEY: Fifteen percent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifteen percent.

MR. BLANKLEY: Fifteen percent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifteen.

What do you --

MR. O'DONNELL: I think virtually 100 percent. Every race the Democrats lost, they lost because of the candidates' own mistakes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They only had to turn 50,000 votes -- 50,000 in about three states. I think it's about 50 percent.

Next week: What's the impact of the 2002 midterm elections on George Bush in 2004? Is he invincible? (Laughter.)

(Announcements.)

PBS SEGMENT

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Vox populi. Voters across America voted on more than 200 ballot measures in their states on Tuesday. Here are the outcomes of some of the more interesting referenda and initiatives.

Oklahoma: Cock fighting, banned.

Florida: Confinement of pregnant pigs in crates and cages, banned. And smoking in restaurants and nearly all work places, banned.

California: Proposition 49, passed. Arnold Schwarzenegger spent nearly $1 million of his own money to pass it, a measure mandating more state spending on before-school and after-school programs. Also, the citizens of Berkeley, California rejected a measure, surprisingly, that would allow only organically grown coffee to be sold in the city.

Massachusetts: Elimination of state income tax, rejected, predictably. "Taxachusetts" lives on.

Nevada: A proposal to legalize up to three ounces of marijuana for either medical or recreational use, rejected.

Question: Why did the marijuana initiative go down to defeat?

Lawrence O'Donnell?

MR. O'DONNELL: Why do I get the marijuana question? What's this?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.) Do you want me to help you out?

MR. O'DONNELL: It was recreational marijuana. It wasn't the kind of --

MS. CLIFT: Medicinal.

MR. O'DONNELL: -- things that have been -- (inaudible) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it's only three ounces.

MR. O'DONNELL: That's a small amount for you? Three ounces.

MR. BLANKLEY: Three ounces is a lot!

(Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the reason why is because those who would favor decriminalization were too stoned to find the polling place?

MR. O'DONNELL: I think they know where they are in Nevada. But I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think they were too stoned to write their names clearly?

MR. O'DONNELL: I don't think that had anything to do with it. I think people showing up to vote are doing their civic duty in a sober way.

MS. CLIFT: I also think the White House put some muscle against defeating this.

MR. O'DONNELL: Yes, a lot.

MS. CLIFT: They sent the drug czar out. Exactly.

But these initiatives will be back. I think medicinal marijuana will be part of this country's future.

MR. BARONE: Well, as long ago as 1972, California voted on recreational marijuana, and voters rejected it 2 to 1.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that those pregnant pigs, besides being taken out of their cages, they should be taken for a walk in the morning and the afternoon?

MR. O'DONNELL (?): Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to ask you this with regard to --

MR. BLANKLEY: I want to get into the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, I'm sorry. Go ahead.

MR. BLANKLEY: I want to get into the pig issue. That passed with 55 percent of the vote. They had another proposition in Florida to have smaller class size, which passed with 52 percent. So a greater percentage of Floridians wanted to have walking space for their pigs than wanted to have smaller classrooms for their kids.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was there an angle on why so many turned out to vote on the referendum regarding the pigs?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, pigs are wonderful animals.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that's it?

MR. BLANKLEY: They're very lovable.

MS. CLIFT: Animal rights --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't put them in the class with your cats, do you? What have you got, 12 cats now?

MR. BLANKLEY: We've got 12. Got two more. Yeah, we've got 12 cats, yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And how many of the --

MR. BARONE: How many pigs?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the birds?

MR. BLANKLEY: We've got five peacocks.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five peacocks.

MR. BLANKLEY: No pigs yet. My wife correctly points out that they root and it would be very messy, and who's going to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. We don't want any negatives on pigs here.

I want to know how we think Arnold Schwarzenegger performed out there. Is a star born?

MS. CLIFT: Very well. Yes.

MR. O'DONNELL: Oh, a political star is born. He did remarkably well on this. And --

MR. BARONE: There is no question but that he --

MR. O'DONNELL: Yeah.

MR. BARONE: -- (inaudible word) -- run for governor in 2006.

MR. O'DONNELL: And this was something that was opposed by the Democrats because it specifies using a certain piece of your budget on a particular form of education; that people wanted to leave that budget to be freely spent. But --

MR. BARONE: Well, and there might not be -- (inaudible) -- union jobs and union money for the Democratic --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How does Schwarzenegger go over with the theatrical community, to which you are attached by reason of your television prominence?

MR. O'DONNELL: He is the only popular Republican in Hollywood.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there's --

MR. O'DONNELL: I mean personally popular. Friends, people like him.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you surprised at all -- I'm favoring you because we see you so infrequently. Are you surprised that Massachusetts rejected the income-tax banning?

MR. O'DONNELL: No. It was a crazy idea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean, crazy idea?

MR. O'DONNELL: Because then how are you going to finance --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many states have abandoned the state income tax?

MR. BARONE: Well, there are seven states that have no income tax.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Seven.

MR. BARONE: But the problem you've got, John, there, or the fascinating thing, is that about 45 percent voted to eliminate the income tax where that would cause great -- you'd have to raise other taxes some substantial amount. So that's a fascinating thing. Even in "Tax-achusetts," that loves big government.

MS. CLIFT: People don't like taxes, but they do like animal rights. #### END_