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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: TONY BLANKLEY, PATRICK BUCHANAN, ELEANOR CLIFT AND VAUGHN VERVERS

TAPED: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2004
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 28-29, 2004

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Gay gambit.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) If we are to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America.

SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC, presidential candidate): (From videotape.) I am against the president's constitutional amendment on gay marriage.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D-MA, presidential candidate): (From videotape.) I don't think you need a constitutional amendment.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: George Bush sees an amendment banning gay marriage as sound policy. Karl Rove sees it as smart politics, a potential of 4 million fundamentalist Christians voting for George Bush who did not vote at all in 2000. They, like other evangelical fundamentalists, favor the no same-sex marriage amendment in a big way.

In fact, the presidential race hinges on this issue, Mr. Rove, the president's political counselor, believes.

Others disagree. They expect the move will cost Bush over 1 million votes from gays and lesbians who otherwise would have voted for him, and from millions of independents and millions of GOP moderates. These three groups believe the amendment is a form of persecution against gays and lesbians.

Rove's bottom-line gamble is this: more votes will be gained from people who don't normally vote, 4. million fundamentalist Christians, than will be lost from the millions of people, the three groups who would have voted for Mr. Bush if not for this amendment.

Question: Is Bush accurately stating or is he overstating the threat same-sex marriage poses to heterosexual marriage, Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, what is going on here is an attempt to redefine marriage. It is between a man and a woman. The homosexuals want to redefine marriage as between men and men. I think that's the dissolution of the institution of marriage if we let that happen.

Politically, the president is moving to define Kerry as a Rosie O'Donnell Democrat before this whole race begins. Politically, John, what you overlooked is the fact that this issue has great reach in the socially conservative black community and the Hispanic community, where it's socially conservative. This is a 10-strike by the president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I think this is political base pandering by the president. Pat's people were getting restive because they didn't like his immigration reform bill, they don't like the rising deficit, and the president had been dodging this issue for weeks.

He's still dodging it, because his comments say that he would support civil unions. And frankly, a lot of people in your camp, Pat, think civil unions are the same thing as marriage, except by another name.

What this is, is the political equivalent of Mel Gibson's "Passion" play. It's designed to rouse the true believers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does --

MS. CLIFT: It'll never pass, also by the way. There are 41 senators, by an informal head count, who oppose it. So this is just cheap politicizing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does the history of interracial marriage tell us anything about the extent to which gay marriage would undermine marriage? The answer is obviously no, since only four out of 100 marriages are interracial. Is that true?

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know what the number is, but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, where is the threat the president is talking about?

MR. BLANKLEY: Look. Let me make a couple points. I think at a political level -- I think there's also a substantive level, and Pat's talked to that, but at a political level, I think the president is on very solid ground if the constitutional amendment, the final language, merely gives each state the right to its democratic, not judicial, process to make its own decision. That returns the law to the status quo ante of these outlaw judges. And it does what John Kerry says he believes in, which is leaving it up to each state. So you get rid of the full faith and credit clause. You say the legislature can decide in each state what they want. I think that's the 10-strike that Pat talked about.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you make a very good point; however, it is totally undercut by the timing of this. This is occurring eight months before an election, in a political year, when what is needed for a constitutional amendment is sober and careful reflection. Would you not agree?

MR. VERVERS: Well, absolutely. I agree with Eleanor this thing is never going to pass the Congress.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Never.

MR. VERVERS: Never. Not in this Congress, not in the next one, maybe not 10 years down the road.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Time is not on the side of this.

MR. BLANKLEY: Don't bet on it.

MR. VERVERS: I don't think time is on the side of this. I think that the country is moving toward more the Massachusetts court position in the long run than it is the other side, because that's just the way --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If only four marriages today are interracial, four out of a hundred, how many do you think it would be if the situation continues as is and marriage were allowed to homosexuals?

MR. VERVERS: I think it would be greater than that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do?

MR. VERVERS: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, no. That's ridiculous.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One or two out of a hundred?

MR. BUCHANAN: That's ridiculous John.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many out of a hundred? Answer my question.

MR. BUCHANAN: The problem is, John -- it would be very few.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Very few? Vaughn is --

MR. BUCHANAN: Here's the problem. The problem is, interracial marriage does not violate the fundamental Christian beliefs of Americans. Homosexual marriage is an abomination. It is an outrage. And sub rosa the arguments against this are enormously powerful, John, and people are not going to put up (with it). It has never passed politically by popular vote.

MS. CLIFT: It's only an abomination if you believe homosexuality is an abomination.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MS. CLIFT: And frankly, a lot of people don't agree with that. They have homosexuals in their families.

MR. BUCHANAN: It has never once passed the popular vote.

MS. CLIFT: Committed monogamist relationships are what we should support. If marriage is in trouble -- half of marriages end in divorce -- it's not because gays -- (inaudible).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, you need help here, and we're going to give it to you. Rosie speaks out for gay marriage.

ROSIE O'DONNELL: (From videotape.) We were both inspired to come here after the sitting president said the vile and vicious and hateful comments he did on Tuesday. It inspired myself -- (cheers, applause) -- my brand-new wife -- (cheers, applause).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is O'Donnell a good spokesperson to win over those American supporters of the no-same-sex marriage? I ask you, Vaughn.

MR. VERVERS: She is not the best spokesperson that that movement could have.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why do you say that?

MR. VERVERS: This is somebody who is so controversial that she made her living off of selling a TV show to housewives around the country saying that she had a crush on Tom Cruise and calling him "Tommy Boy," and passed herself off as something that she wasn't, and turned around and became something else.

I think, though, that it goes to the point of what she said and what a lot of people have been saying in this debate. Everybody is on the same page on this entire debate.

The president's got the same position as John Kerry does in the fundamentals of it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think -- can I direct you in another course?

MR. BLANKLEY: Any direction you want, sir.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Do you think that Mel Gibson bears any connection to the matter at hand in "The Passion of Christ," which is fundamentally -- I haven't read it. I haven't seen it, rather, but I have read about it. It's fundamentally revivalist. And Pat has just engaged in a very literal interpretation of the Bible, whereas scholars -- and you're quoting a passage from Paul principally -- theological scholars have elaborated that -- not Catholic, necessarily; maybe there are some Catholic -- to give more weight to the Constitution --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. BLANKLEY: Wait a minute, wait.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and the development of the individual and what role that plays, and the intentionality also and the circumstances.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, let me --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now the question is, do you think that Bush delivered this in the Roosevelt Room, it was pulpit to pulpit, asking the revivalists --

MR. BUCHANAN: Revivalist? (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the literalists like Pat -- (laughter) --

MR. BLANKELY: Let me answer --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you understand what I'm saying? The mood is out there, is it not?

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me answer the question you posed. I do think there's a similarity between these two phenomena, and it's an elitist- base America contrast. The American public overwhelmingly is going to see "The Passion;" $27 million on the first day. Most Americans are against gay marriage. But the elites, the media, everybody we see on Newsweek and everywhere else --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me --

MR. BLANKLEY: -- they make it sound like the 70 percent of the American public that doesn't like this are some freakish corner of the country.

MS. CLIFT: First of all, the 27 --

MR. BLANKEY: We are the country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: The millions who went to see that movie went there because of all the hype, and when they see what blood and gore it is, let's see what they --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor --

MR. BLANKLEY: No, they went there for the faith, my dear. They went there for the faith.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Let Eleanor speak. Let Eleanor speak.

MS. CLIFT: The public is opposed to gay marriage two to one, but they are opposed to a constitutional amendment. That's what we're talking about here; is a constitutional amendment the right way to address this?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Eleanor --

MR. BLANKLEY: And the more times Rosie O'Donnell comes out --

MR. VERVERS: And they support --

MR. BLANKLEY: -- the more people are going to be in favor of a constitutional amendment.

MS. CLIFT: But the good role models --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, please. Let's get our guest in here.

MS. CLIFT: The good role models are the thousands of people who lined up in San Francisco, who are people that you would like to have as your neighbors. And the mayor of Salt Lake City and the mayor of Chicago, who said marriage -- gay marriage is fine with them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Eleanor, let me move this over to Vaughn.

MS. CLIFT: Okay. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, he is our guest today and a very brilliant analyst in these matters.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the president was responding to the 3,000-plus marriage certificates that have been issued in San Francisco, and that he felt he had to get control of the situation?

MR. VERVERS: I think the president was responding to that. I think he was responding to criticism from within his own party that he wasn't taking a strong enough lead on this. And i think that -- ironically, I think what the public believes in this overall, in general, they pretty much -- everybody pretty much understands where they all individually stand on this issue, and I think that what both sides are in danger of is if they are seen as pushing the issue -- whichever group is seen as pushing the issue --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Now --

MR. VERVERS: -- in the faces of Americans I think will pay a price for that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Let me ask you this. I characterized the crux of Karl Rove's gamble, and there are some who believe -- by the way, I'm hearing for relatively the first time on the streets in Washington that the president's political counsel is really incompetent; not political, but the White House staff --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the president's hand --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- there are some signs of that. But let me finish. Let me finish.

MR. BUCHANAN: The president's hand was forced. His hand was forced.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Aw! Let me --

MR. BUCHANAN: I mean, San Francisco, he had to respond. Massachusetts, he had to respond.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Let's --

MS. CLIFT: No he didn't. It would work its way through the courts.

MR. BUCHANAN: He couldn't sit there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. We understand that. Well, let me ask --

MS. CLIFT: Why didn't he wait for the courts?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, hold your fire!

MS. CLIFT: Right. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Courts don't decide these things.

MS. CLIFT: Sure they do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to know from you what you think of Karl Rove's gamble.

He's gambling against a number of votes that he can get from 1 million -- 4 million nonvoting evangelicals, who will favor the amendment, as opposed to those that he will lose -- the moderates, the independents and the 1 million gays and lesbians who would have voted for him.

MR. VERVERS: For the most part this is not a gamble, it's a no- brainer. They had to do this. In fact, it surprised the campaign itself, the way it was handled and when it was done. But we've seen this coming for a long time. He had to come out and take this stand --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Because --

MR. VERVERS: Because he had to position himself against what was going on in San Francisco and Massachusetts.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, well -- and they were in to see him the Friday before the amendment.

MR. BUCHANAN: John -- suppose, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They wanted to see him and they said -- the fundamentalists said, what are you giving us?

MR. BUCHANAN: Suppose --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're giving us -- let me finish!

MR. BUCHANAN: Suppose he did not do it. How do you think people -- what is the matter with you, Mr. President? Why won't you do it? He had to do it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who was saying that? What percentage of the people?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, his entire base!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the fact that Kerry has a 12-point lead in some polls over the president had anything to do with this?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, yeah, because that lead is going to evaporate on this Rosey O'Donnell -- the president has changed the subject to this, which is a killer for the Democrats.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that he had to do this because Victoria Plame indictments are coming and he had to stay ahead of that bad news? Otherwise it would like he was trying to get it off the front page.

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. BUCHANAN: He was forced like Schwarzenegger was forced.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did this get the National Guard off the front page?

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, exactly. It moved the National Guard off and gay marriage on.

MS. CLIFT: This is 19 --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So what is it? Politics or principle, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: He was driven by San Francisco.

MS. CLIFT: Politics. Politics.

MR. BUCHANAN: Principle.

MS. CLIFT: This is 1992 redux.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get out on that. Is the ban on gay marriage justified or unjustified? And if unjustified, is it as unjustified as was the ban on interracial marriage of yesteryear? Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: The ban -- it is natural law, it is the right thing. It is what the country wants done.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's totally justified?

MR. BUCHANAN: Certainly.

MS. CLIFT: Pat can't speak for the country. We're talking about a constitutional amendment to solidify this ban. It's totally unjustified.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want to recant that? We're talking about -- you want to think again? It's a constitutional amendment. You favor that?

MR. BUCHANAN: I will go with the amendment, but what Romney --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You what?

MR. BUCHANAN: What Romney ought to do is simply tell the Massachusetts court we are not going to rewrite our law.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you favor a constitutional amendment on this? It's not clear to me.

MR. BUCHANAN: I would support it, but it ain't going to go through --

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: And even if it goes through, it ain't going to do the job.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: I think if it returns the power to the state to make -- so that each state can democratically make the decision, then it's justified. If they are going to embody substantive law in the Constitution, then it's not justified.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is this? A lecture you're giving us? (Cross talk.) An answer -- justified or unjustified?

MR. BLANKLEY: We don't know -- giving the states the power to control --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you were in the White House giving the president counsel, what would you tell him to do? Go with the amendment or not?

MR. BLANKLEY: Just what I said. We don't know those --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Groaning.) Oh.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: I said that the wording matters in constitutional amendments. It ought to return the power to the states. Then I'd say yes, go ahead.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who says the states have power?

MS. CLIFT: (They're completely ?) taking it away. (Laughs)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Constitution pulls it right into itself under the full faith and credit. That's what he said.

MR. BLANKLEY: That's why you need a constitutional amendment --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, no, no, no, no.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- to give the states the right to control their own marriage laws.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think they can because it's already under the Constitution, as the president --

MR. BLANKLEY: That's why you need a constitutional amendment, to waive the full faith and credit clause.

MR. BUCHANAN: You don't need a constitutional amendment. You don't need an amendment. I'll tell you what you can do. You can restrict the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. We passed --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, we don't want to talk about -- I wanted to deliberately avoid the law here.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's what it's about.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But in point of fact the Constitution sucks it right in, under that amendment!

MR. BUCHANAN: But it depends what the amendment says.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's go. Give me an answer.

MR. VERVERS: It's justified in the sense that it's justified to have this conversation right now. It's a little ridiculous because both parties have the same basic position.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. VERVERS: They're against gay marriage, they're for civil unions.

MR. BUCHANAN: They are not!

MR. VERVERS: It is --

MR. BUCHANAN: The Republicans are not.

MR. VERVERS: The president is for some civil unions. (Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get out. Let's get out. I want to register my view here.

MR. BLANKLEY: Mrs. Kerry-Heinz is in favor of gay marriage -- (inaudible).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It is unjustified. (Laughter.)

When we come back: President Bush himself -- himself -- attacked Kerry this week, eight months before the election. Was this fusillade on time, or is the White House staff showing itself politically inept again?

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Bush is back.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) We meet during the presidential primary season. We're witnessing a clear trend. It looks like we have a winner in the Republican primaries.

The other party's nomination battle is still playing out. The candidates are an interesting group, with diverse opinions: for tax cuts and against them -- (laughter) -- for NAFTA and against NAFTA, for the Patriot Act and against the Patriot Act, in favor of liberating Iraq and opposed to it. And that's just one senator from Massachusetts. (Laughter, applause.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three days later, Kerry returned fire.

SEN. KERRY: (From videotape.) Well, I'm not going to listen to President Bush suggest that I might have two positions on any issue when he has a wrong position on every issue. (Laughter, applause.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Bush's satirical jab at Senator Kerry comes eight months before the general election. Polls show Mr. Bush losing a head-to-head matchup with John Kerry: Kerry, 51 percent; Bush, 44 percent.

A Bush-Edwards matchup is a dead heat, almost: Edwards, 49 percent; Bush, 48 percent -- well within the 3 percent margin of error.

Question: Why has Bush chosen to engage Kerry so early in the campaign? Why isn't he sticking with the Rose Garden strategy of appearing presidential, above the fray? I ask you, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Because the polls are showing him behind, and Kerry and the Democrats, through this primary process, have been doing a good job redefining the president as somebody whose leadership is being questioned. He looks untrustworthy on his National Guard record. The absence of weapons of mass destruction make people question his decision to go to war. And now he's trying to present himself as the war president who's sure and steady, follows the same course, even if it's the wrong course. And frankly, the last good thing he did in the war was visit the troops at Thanksgiving.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What he has going for him, Tony, is incumbency. And he's sacrificing the value of incumbency.

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's cut himself right --

BLANKLEY: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is the argument; it's not my argument --

MR. VERVERS: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's cut himself right down to the level of an ordinary Joe who's trying to protect his job.

MR. BLANKLEY: No. I think we've not -- probably won't see a Rose Garden strategy much anymore. Now, with the modern primary system picking a winner by February or March, the idea of the Rose Garden strategy I don't think works anymore. I think Bush is entirely right to get out there. He's only returning very gently --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But is he too early, eight months --

MR. BLANKLEY: No, no, he's not too -- he's probably about -- he's about a month too late.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why doesn't he do this in June?

MR. BLANKLEY: He's about a month too late.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Off mike) -- you want to --

MR. BLANKLEY: He should engage early. The Democrats rightfully have been attacking him for months. He's now --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Off mike) -- the expert over here.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, John, Kerry --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute, Pat. Hold on. Hold your fire, Pat.

MR. VERVERS: It's a false premise. We are in the age now of constant campaigning.

MR. BLANKLEY: Exactly.

MR. VERVERS: From the day the president's sworn into the office until the Election Day, you have a constant Rose Garden strategy.

Bush has run in parts of that all the way through his presidency.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is what Kerry said more in detail. "Bush has reversed Dick Cheney's position. He is doing this because he is in trouble. He's trying to reach out to his base. He's playing politics with the Constitution of the United States." You don't think that's going to ring true with the public?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, when Kerry --

MR. VERVERS: It's a constant campaign. You can say that with any incumbent, any race, in any political situation these days.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me get on this thing. Look. What he's doing now is he is defining Kerry before Kerry is defined for the country. And he has no better weapon in doing that than the presidency and the presidential pulpit. What Tony says is correct. We ran the Rose Garden strategy for Nixon, didn't mention McGovern's name. You can't do that now because these guys are defining themselves and, as Eleanor says, they're defining Bush. He has got to engage early. And I think he was very, very effective with that statement.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think in the light of everything we've seen in this campaign that what the American people want to hear from George Bush is what his second-term agenda is? Does this mean that the White House staff has failed to develop a coherent theme for his candidacy? That being a war president is far too negative in ring. "What jobs are you going to deliver to us in your second term, Mr. President? What positively are you going to do?"

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me tell you. You're talking about his acceptance speech.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I'm not.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, you are.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm talking about now.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, right now he has got to -- the White House has got to define Kerry now because the clay is beginning to harden. The American people are looking at him. And that's why you get this rosy stuff out there, you get this attack on the flip-flop.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that what you did when you ran as head of the Reform Party?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, we didn't have the pulpit. We did it for Nixon. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Who dominated the campaign agenda for the week; Bush, Kerry, Edwards or Nader, or none of the above?

MR. BUCHANAN: Bush took the ball away from them and ran with it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I'm going to give it to Alan Greenspan, who handed the Democrats an opening on Social Security by saying it's not going to be there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not bad. Why did Greenspan do that?

MS. CLIFT: Why?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Greenspan is thinking about legacy?

MS. CLIFT: Why? Because the numbers are impossible. But he's complicit, because he agreed with the tax cuts. And he's also calling, at the same time, to make the tax cuts permanent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!

MR. BLANKLEY: This is Bush's first week in a long time.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. VERVERS: Bush, Bush, Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is Bush.

Issue three: "Darth" Nader.

RALPH NADER: (From videotape.) This is a fight for all third parties -- Libertarian, Green Party, other third parties, other independent candidates, all the way down to the local level -- who want a chance to breathe politically. They want a chance to have a chance to compete. This is not a democracy that can be controlled by two parties in the grip of corporate interests. I don't think America belongs just to the Democrat and Republican Parties.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why did Nader decide to run. Vaughn? You better be good, Vaughn, because I think you're going to miss it. Go ahead.

MR. VERVERS: Why did Nader decide to run?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. VERVERS: Because Howard Dean got out of the race.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent! Excellent!

MR. VERVERS: Because he likes to run every four years. Now look. There's no question why he announced this last weekend. It's because Howard Dean was out of the race. There's a big pool of people who gave that man $40 million to run in the Democratic primary, and he sees that as a golden opportunity.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, more than that, does his message synchronize perfectly, almost, with Howard Dean's?

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Didn't they both say the same thing, except for Nader's hitting hard corporate corruption?

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. VERVERS: It doesn't, but I will tell you this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where does it deviate?

MR. VERVERS: It doesn't, but I'd tell you this. Nader is more attractive to Deaniacs now because of the way the Democratic establishment jumped on Ralph Nader than he would have been otherwise.

MS. CLIFT: Deaniacs want to get rid of George Bush just like everybody else, and Howard Dean is going to be out there making the point that he is not on Ralph Nader's --

MR. BUCHANAN: You know, Nader's got a couple issues.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the way, I predicted Ralph Nader last July.

MR. BUCHANAN: Okay.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But Nader told me that he would find his answer before the end of December. He waited until February, till Dean was out of the race. He saw his opening, went in, and he wants to pull that Dean support to himself.

MR. BUCHAHAN: He's got two great issues. One of them is he is militantly anti-war, bring the troops home now. Secondly, the trade issue and the jobs issue is right down Ralph's alley, and Kerry can't play that. I think you get late in this campaign, if he can get into a debate, I think it is really bad news for the Democrats.

MS. CLIFT: His biggest argument is there's no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans.

MR. BUCHANAN: And he's right on a lot of things.

MS. CLIFT: The last four years have shown us there's a huge difference.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. Look. I think putting aside any personal ambition, and everybody who gets into office -- runs for office has personal ambition, this is a guy who believes in the principles he's been arguing for 30 -- 40 years. And he's not going to give it up until he drops dead.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We don't need a third party, do we?

MR. BUCHANAN: We certainly do. We need a third, fourth and fifth. Look.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got a third party, the moderates of both parties. It's practically a fusion party.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, on trade, on immigration, on the war, both establishments (of ?) both parties are identical.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Will Howard Dean endorse Ralph Nader, reaching forth from the political grave to strangle the DNC and the liberal media that brought Dean to his knees? Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: Dean will try to strangle Nader because Nader is a rival for what Dean wants to be.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.

MS. CLIFT: Dean will crush Nader. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Dean's giving nothing away to Nader?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, Dean's not going to support Nader.

MR. VERVERS: No way. But the Deaniacs might be attracted to him if the Democratic establishment continues hammering away on Ralph Nader.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated. You're all correct.

We'll be right back with predictions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Patrick?

MR. BUCHANAN: Richard Perle is only the first of the neocons to leave government before November.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Without Green Party backing, Ralph Nader will have trouble getting on the ballot in many states, and he will draw far fewer votes this time than he did last time.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: There will be enough votes in the Senate to pass the gay marriage amendment, constitutional amendment.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Vaughn?

MR. VERVERS: Arnold Schwarzenegger's popularity is going to suck the Bush campaign out into California to play there with lots of money. It's going to be a mistake again.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict that Arnold Schwarzenegger's $15 billion bond measure will pass on Tuesday. Arnold uber alles. By the way, did you notice how Patrick's second run -- how he faded almost into a dim, distant snapshot? Nader will do the same thing.

MR. BUCHANAN: It was the third run.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Third run?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you stopped now, or do you think your time has come? (Laughter.)

Next week: Super Tuesday, a Kerry sweep? Bye-bye.

PBS SEGMENT

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bluegrass, now blue, state.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) The vice president and I appreciated all you did for us last time; we appreciate all you're going to do for us this time. We intend to win the state of Kentucky. (Applause.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's President Bush sounding very positive this week in Louisville. But last week, things were not rosy scenario for Mr. Bush in the bluegrass state. Republican Alice Kerr lost a Kentucky special election for a seat in the House of Representatives, a loss that some say could be a harbinger of things to come nationwide. That's because Ms. Kerr ran on a platform of total alignment with President Bush.

(Begin videotape segment.)

KERR AD NARRATOR: American values. If you share the values of President Bush, you'll like Alice Forgy Kerr.

They're cut from the same cloth.

While others attack the president's economic program and his fight to protect our national security, Alice Forgy Kerr stands with President Bush. Unlike her opponent, Alice supported the Bush tax cuts that are now triggering new jobs and economic growth. Alice Forgy Kerr is the only candidate who will work with President Bush.

ALICE FORGY KERR (Republican candidate): I'm Alice Forgy Kerr, and I approved this message.

(End of videotape segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What makes it legitimate to view this Democratic win as an ominous sign for Republicans this fall, Vaughn?

MR. VERVERS: Well, it's legitimate in the sense that it's a Republican district that they won in, but you've got to take a look at a lot of other factors. I mean, this is a guy who just came off a governor's race, statewide had a lot of name recognition, was a heavy hitter coming in there. She was not. The governor-elect --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But what does it tell you about her tight -- the tight alignment with President Bush -- does that tell you that Bush may have a problem because of a visceral dislike, it is said -- Matsui said it, Chairman Matsui of the Congressional Campaign Committee. He said he went out and he found 30,000 of these people. He believes that this is a valuable resource for him throughout the country --

MR. VERVERS: Well, I don't think you can say that yet.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that you find these people and that they will come. They were non-voters, and they came out and they voted because of this disdain for Bush.

MR. BUCHANAN: But Bush will carry -- John, Bush will carry the state, but his coattails weren't big enough to carry this lady against Happy Chandler's grandson.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does it tell you anything beyond that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, if Kentucky's in trouble, Bush is in trouble.

MS. CLIFT: Well, it's the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does it tell you anything about the nation at large, in the light of the way they won the race, i.e., by getting those people who --

MR. BUCHANAN: Bush's coattails will not carry you in --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He found 30,000 people there that have -- that feel such a dislike, they came out from a non-voting status, and they voted for the Republican -- the Democrat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I don't think that speaks for the whole -- I don't speak that -- think that speaks for the country, but if it does, Bush is in trouble.

MS. CLIFT: Well, anti-Bush fever is the central motivating factor of the election.

END.