The Labor Day weekend is the traditional start for political campaigns, but the presidential candidates have been at it for months. We'll talk with one of them, Joe Lieberman, about his campaign, his health plan and what he thinks about the current front-runner, Howard Dean.
Then we'll check in with a California recall race and ask the leading Democrat, Lieutenant Governor Bustamante, how he thinks he can beat Arnold Schwarzenegger. Doyle McManus of The Los Angeles Times will join in the questioning and I'll have a final word on the Ten Commandments.
But, first, Joe Lieberman on Face The Nation.
ANNOUNCER: Face The Nation with CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer. And now from CBS News in Washington, Bob Schieffer.
SCHIEFFER: And good morning again.
Senator Lieberman is in the studio with us this morning. Doyle McManus of the LA Times is here with us, too.
Senator, let's get right with it. You were among the first Democrats to support military action in Iraq. Things do not appear to be going so well. Do you believe you had the right information to Make that decision?
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, D-CT; Democratic Presidential Candidate: I do, Bob, and let me go back just a bit. In 1998, John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey and I introduced something called the Iraq Liberation Act, and it said that American policy had to change. It had to be -- get Saddam out of power in Baghdad because the man had a goal to dominate the Arab world.
He had weapons of mass destruction. He had used them. He had acknowledged to the UN that he had them. He had brutalized his own people.
So when we got to the point earlie r this year when that possibility was close, all that John McCain and Bob Kerrey and I had concluded in '98 led me to feel very strongly that we were doing the right thing. In fact, I believe today that the world is safer with Saddam Hussein gone.
Now, look, the president and the administration, I'm afraid, did overstate the case in some ways. And what bothers me about that is that it wasn't necessary. The case for overthrowing Saddam was powerful and strong. And, unfortunately, the administration, in some of those overstatements and in its lack of preparedness for what to do on the day Saddam fell, has threatened to give a bad name to what I'm convinced was a just war.
SCHIEFFER: This really set you apart from some of the others seeking the Democratic nomination. As you well know, Howard Dean has said from the beginning, `Look, we have no business there. We should not have gone.' Today, on "Meet the Press," John Kerry said he believes -- and I'm not using his words -- said that he was misled about this because he supported the military action. At one point, he had even said He felt the administration had lied to people about the justification for going in. So you have no regrets?
LIEBERMAN: I don't. And, listen, I'd say that I reached the conclusion about the evil and the threat that Saddam represented to his people, to the region, most particularly to the United States of America. We're safer with him gone. If John Kerry or anyone else who voted for the war resolution thinks that they were misled in a way that makes them think they voted the wrong way in supporting the war, they have an obligation to say exactly in what way they were misled.
Otherwise, they're sending, again, a message that I would call ambivalent. This is a time -- we're engaged...
SCHIEFFER: Well, I -- let me just interrupt. He did not say that he regretted his vote. He did not go that far, but he did clearly indicate that he felt that the administration had given out inaccurate information.
LIEBERMAN: Well it appears that some of the information was inaccurate or overstated. And I guess that's the key point. If you say you're misled, you've got to then say whether you were misled so much that you regret the fact that you voted for the war. And this goes to the credibility of the administration, what I said earlier. Their behavior is beginning to give a bad name to a just war, but now we're faced with a real crisis in Iraq. The judgment on a war always is what kind of peace followed it, and we're in danger, the Bush administration having won the war, of losing the peace in a way that will be a terrible setback in the war against terrorism and will endanger the lives of more American soldiers over there.
DOYLE McMANUS, The Los Angeles Times: Well, Senator, one reason that the United States is having trouble in Iraq is that we waged that war with only a few allies, with the British and a few others. Another point Senator Kerry made was that we should have delayed going to war until we had the French and the Germans and possibly others on board. Do you think that's a fair critique? And how far would you go now to try and get other countries to come in on the postwar period?
LIEBERMAN: I don't think that Senator Kerry's critique is a fair critique, and in this case I agree with what Governor Dean has said of Senator Kerry, which is you can't vote for the war and then come out and criticize it in a way that seems to say that you weren't actually for it. I believe that Saddam Hussein had 12 years since he agreed to disarm and prove to us what he did do with the weapons of mass destruction. He had, I mean, 12 years from the end of the Gulf War to the time we started the war. It was very clear that our allies in Europe were not going to change their position on the war. The time had come to act, and if we didn't act, it would have -- I'm afraid, been an act of weakness.
What I am disappointed in the administration about is that, having reached that point, they then didn't go to our allies in Europe and say, `OK, we're disappointed you didn't join us in the war, but we're going to need you as soon as Saddam falls to help us keep the peace and rebuild the country.' And the fact that they didn't is part of why we're having such trouble in Iraq today.
McMANUS: Well, now last week the French foreign minister said, in effect, France would be willing to come in and help, but he raised a pretty stiff condition. He said, `You're basically going to have to turn over the management of Iraq's political and economic future to the UN Security Council,' which is something the administration has resisted doing. Do you think that French proposal is a good one to follow?
LIEBERMAN: The proposal is worth considering for this reason: sometimes the administration, in keeping out the UN, keeping out our allies and NATO from postwar Iraq, even seeming to keep out some of our Arab allies, seems to have been suggesting that they want to control post-Saddam Iraq. Well, that's not why we waged this war. That's not why I supported this war.
I supported the war to overthrow Saddam, to protect the world and America from him, and to liberate the people of Iraq. We ought to be happy to share the burden of keeping the peace and of rebuilding Iraq and of the kind of the democracy that will be a powerful statement in the war against terrorism.
I do want to say that Kofi Annan, the Secretary-general of the United Nations, said some things that were very helpful last week, and they were basically that if the United Nations came in to help us keep the peace, the United States, the United States would probably be the head of that peacekeeping force. That's a perfect balance. It takes the pressure off of American soldiers. It brings in expertise. We need to rebuild a country and keep the peace, and it'll get some American soldiers home to their families sooner than they would otherwise get home.
SCHIEFFER: For all his criticisms of the war, Senator Kerry said today we don't need more American troops there, which puts him at odds with a lot of people who've been visiting Iraq recently. Do you think we need more troops there? And are they going to have to be American troops?
LIEBERMAN: I agree with John McCain, who just came back from Baghdad and Iraq, that we do need more troops. They don't have to be American troops. In fact, the more that are European or UN or Arab nation troops, the better it is. In fact, there -- our NATO allies – the -- the question is not just more troops, but what kind of troops. We've got to get hold of the situation there, keeping the peace, but also restoring basic services and building an Iraqi political leadership that can govern that country. That's what I would do if I were president today. And our allies in NATO, some of our friends in the Arab world can help us enormously on this.
You know, Bob, I was saying this for months before the war in Iraq began. I knew we would defeat Saddam. I'm shocked at how unprepared the Bush administration was for what to do afterward. They've left a vacuum which the terrorists, the Saddam loyalists, our enemies have jumped into, and we've got to close that vacuum and make the point to the United Nations, whose headquarters was bombed, to the Muslims there, whose holiest shrine, the Shia Muslims, was bombed on Friday, to the Arab world, the Jordanian Embassy bombed, that we're all on the same side, and don't think that the terrorists just hate America. They hate the whole civilized world.
SCHIEFFER: Let's talk a little bit about some of the other people who are running.
You've talked about Senator Kerry. Howard Dean has surprised everybody. He's now surged to the front in all of these polls. You have said that if he's the nominee it will lead the Democrats back into the political wilderness. Strong talk.
LIEBERMAN: Well, I believe it. Look, Howard Dean has done well, and he's energized some people, brought them more actively into the election. I think in the long term, that's going to be good for the goal that all of us Democratic candidates share, which is to deny George Bush a second term. And, look, we agree on a lot. We -- we -- all it...
SCHIEFFER: But you think he's unelectable?
LIEBERMAN: Here's what I meant when I said take us back into the political wi – I worry that he cannot win but -- but when I said take us back into the political wilderness, Bill Clinton, who I supported very early in the '92 campaign, reconnected with mainstream American values. He reassured the American people that Democrats could be fiscally responsible, would support tax cuts for the middle class, would not go back to protectionism, and would be strong on defense and strong against crime. And the positions that Governor Dean has taken, and the positions that some others of my opponents have taken, they threaten to take us back to the pre-Clinton time when the Democratic Party was, in fact, in the political wilderness for the better part of two decades. I don't want to do that.
SCHIEFFER: But what things? I mean, what's he taking us back to?
LIEBERMAN: Well, look, number one, this -- we -- our security as Americans is challenged more seriously than it's been in a long time. We were attacked here in the United States on September 11th. I'm the candidate who has the deepest broadest background in military and foreign policy. I supported the Gulf War and the war against Saddam. I've supported our troops. I've helped to transform our military. I wrote the bill with others to create the Homeland Security Department. I've been the most vigorous critic of President Bush in failing to fund homeland security. The American people want a leader that they will vote for in 2004 who will protect them in a dangerous world. Just compare my record...
LIEBERMAN: ...my positions, and my experience with that of Governor Dean. Same for his call that all the Bush tax cuts be repealed.
LIEBERMAN: That would raise taxes on the middle class. That would be a terrible thing to do when the middle class is already so stressed today.
SCHIEFFER: Why then is he doing so well in these early primary states, according to the polls?
LIEBERMAN: Well, first off, the march to the nomination is not going to be decided in the first couple of states. But...
SCHIEFFER: Well, it's going to be very important. Is it not?
LIEBERMAN: ...it'll be important, but here's the point. Howard Dean, I think, has touched into some anger toward President Bush. Believe me, you'd have to go far to find two people who are not more angry in how the election of 2000 ended and what's happened since than Al Gore and me. I share that anger. But you've got to go from that anger to present the American people with a leader who will do what's right for the country's future, who won't just say what every crowd wants to hear, who has the experience and the ideas to work from the center of American politics out as Bill Clinton did, to bring in all Democrats and then enough Independents and Republicans who want better leadership than George Bush has given America, to keep us secure, to make us prosperous again, and to bring back fairness and integrity to the White House where it's not been enough for the last two and a half years.
McMANUS: Senator, in watching Governor Dean in the last couple of weeks, he appears to have moderated a couple of his positions on -- he said we've got to win this peace in Iraq. He said we shouldn't get rid of the trade embargo on Cuba. Is he taking your advice? Are you willing to give him credit for moving toward the center?
LIEBERMAN: Well, Governor Dean's got to be -- he's been doing some flip-flopping lately. Maybe he thinks he's got a chance to win and he wants to come back in, but he's got to let the American people know exactly where he stands, what his experience does to prepare him to lead America in this most difficult period in our history, and to bring our party and our country together.
I don't want to go back to the Democratic Party before Bill Clinton, but more than that, I want to make sure that we present an alternative to George Bush that convinces the American people that we can meet the serious challenges our people face to their prosperity and their security.
SCHIEFFER: This has to be the last question. Which primary...
SCHIEFFER: What's the first primary you're going to win?
LIEBERMAN: Well, I've said all along, although the names have changed, that Dick Gephardt was expected to win Iowa. John Kerry was expected to win New Hampshire.
Howard Dean is ahead in both. February 3rd, Delaware, South Carolina, Arizona, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Missouri, New Mexico. That's the day -- I'm going to do well enough in Iowa and New Hampshire but I intend to win some primaries on February 3rd, and keep on going in the march to the White House. Thank you.
SCHIEFFER: We'll see you down the campaign trail.
LIEBERMAN: OK. Take care, Bob. Thank you, Doyle.
SCHIEFFER: Thank you, Senator. Back in a minute to talk to California's lieutenant governor, Cruz Bustamante, in a minute.
SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with California Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante. He is in Sacramento this morning.
Governor, welcome. This morning...
LT. GOV. CRUZ BUSTAMANTE, D-CA, Gubernatorial Candidate: My pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.
SCHIEFFER: This morning, Governor Gray Davis, the governor of California, said he'll probably announce about 10 days before this election as to whether or not he will endorse you. I guess my question to you is, he says that's sort of his custom to do it in that time frame. I guess my question is, to you, do you want his endorsement, and would you expect him to campaign with you, and will you campaign with him to keep him in office?
BUSTAMANTE: Well, my campaign has always been about saying no on the recall, because on principle, I believe that it's the wrong thing to do. There's been a lot of criticism about those folks who organized this effort and I believe, many of us believe, that they're trying to hijack democracy, and we say that very clearly, very directly. But we also say that the people who voted on that, or signed that petition, all those folks weren't part of some kind of conspiracy.
I think they were sending a real strong message to the people of the state of California, especially its leadership in Sacramento, saying, `We want everything back up on the table. We want everything back up on there, and we're going to basically divide you up into two different issues. First, Governor, we want to hear from you. We want to hear about all your issues, we want to hear about what you've been doing, why you've been doing it, and what you're going to do for us in the future. And then we're going to decide what we're going to do with you.'
And then we're going to decide on the second question. There is a second question that deals with successor candidates, and they're going to basically say, `All you folks who think you want to be governor, we want to hear from you. We want to hear your ideas very specifically, not some concept, not some position. We want to hear about what you're going to actually do to fix problems in California.' And as a result, they're going to make a very serious decision about what's going to take place in California.
They're not going to give any of us a pass, Arnold, Tom, Peter or Cruz. Now's the time to come up with your...
SCHIEFFER: All right. That's...
BUSTAMANTE: ...very specific proposals.
SCHIEFFER: So would that help you to get the governor's endorsement?
BUSTAMANTE: Well, I'm trying to get everybody's endorsement. I'm hopeful to be able to get -- now that we've had a very good chance of being able to get all of labor, we're going to be going after many other groups, the party, I'm hopeful, many of the party leadership has already endorsed. It was only three weeks ago, Bob, that people were looking at my campaign as a little odd. A week later, people started warming up to the whole issue. Two weeks out then became a part of a strategy. Three weeks out, many people are rallying around the effort to try to figure out a way of being able to stop this recall on one side or the other.
There are two questions on this ballot. Both of them are important, and I don't think that the Democrats ought to capitulate on one question. I think that they ought to have a clear, decisive way...
SCHIEFFER: All right.
BUSTAMANTE: ...of being able to beat this recall either way you go.
SCHIEFFER: All right.
McMANUS: Well, Lieutenant Governor, let me as -- some of Gray Davis' people are a little worried that your presence on the ballot will be a temptation for Democrats to say, `Well, we can, you know, get rid of Gray. We can vote no on question one and then we've got that nice choice.' Wouldn't it be a stronger campaign against the recall for you and Gray Davis to go out jointly and tell Democrats that their duty is to go vote no on question number one and are you going to do that?
BUSTAMANTE: Absolutely. He is telling everybody to vote no. I'm telling people to vote no. If you were to call my campaign office, what you'd hear is no on the recall, yes on Bustamante.
McMANUS: But I don't see the two of you appearing...
BUSTAMANTE: Well, let me -- let me...
McMANUS: ...appearing together...
BUSTAMANTE: ...let me -- let me -- let me...
McMANUS: ...at all on the same...
BUSTAMANTE: ...let me finish.
McMANUS: ...on the same platform. Yes, sir.
BUSTAMANTE: Let me finish.
BUSTAMANTE: You asked a question; let me finish. And all the brochures and TV commercials that we're going to be doing is going to have the same theme. I go to labor organizations and to business folks and to many, many people around the state, including party people and everything is about no on the recall. We believe that we're working in concert already. We believe that what we're doing is that we're working because -- in terms of the -- the recall, we just believe it's the wrong thing to do. I'm in competition with Arnold, Tom and Peter. I'm not in competition with Gray Davis because I'm on that second question. My presence has to deal with in terms of making sure that I present myself and my ideas in contrast to what those other successor candidates are doing. That's what I'm trying to do. That's my responsibility and that's my goal.
SCHIEFFER: Well, let's shift to the news of the week out there and that was this article that appeared -- that somebody dug up about Arnold Schwarzenegger back in his single days when he gave an interview and talked -- sort of boasted about having group sex in a gym. Since then, some women's groups have said that he needs to apologize. Some family values groups have said he needs to repent. Some people are saying that this shows he's a sexual predator. What is your response to all that, Governor?
BUSTAMANTE: You know what? I'm less concerned about his private life and I'm more concerned about what he's talking about in his public life. And in his public life, he's decided to campaign on wedge-issue politics -- just like he di -- just like Pete Wilson...
BUSTAMANTE: ...did some time back.
SCHIEFFER: I take your point. Let me...
BUSTAMANTE: No, no, wait a minute. No, no. I'm say -- no.
SCHIEFFER: No, no, just let me ask you one thing.
BUSTAMANTE: He has come out on...
SCHIEFFER: Does this mean that you...
BUSTAMANTE: ...for 187.
SCHIEFFER: ...you do not think that this is important?
BUSTAMANTE: I think that what he's bringing -- his issues to the state of California are very, very important, and his presence today has actually shocked me in terms of what he's trying to do. What he's trying to do is that he's trying to take on immigrants in this state. I think it's wrong.
You know, when I was speaker of the Assembly, I took on Pete Wilson. I took him on because he was trying to deny food stamps to legal children. And I took on -- as you already know, I took on Gray Davis on the issue of 187 when I didn't think he was working fast enough. And if Arnold Schwarzenegger thinks that he's going to take on the immigrants in this state, and I'm going to give him a pass, he's absolutely wrong because the immigrants of this state pay $1,400 more in taxes than they receive in benefits. And as far as I'm concerned, that's what I'm going to take Arnold Schwarzenegger on, his public persona to be an anti-immigrant, to go harking back to the days of wedge-issue politics and try to use politics as a way of dividing people in California.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, I'm going to take you on on the issue of immigrants because you're wrong.
SCHIEFFER: Final question, Doyle.
McMANUS: ...as far as Arnold Schwarzenegger's attitudes today towards women and women's rights, are you satisfied he's in the right place?
BUSTAMANTE: You know what? I'm going to let the women and those folks decide about what his positions are. I think that it's going to be very important that he lays out all of his ideas. I think everybody's going to be able to have a chance to look at them and they're going to make their decisions.
My job is to make sure that I present my ideas and make sure that what I'm trying to do is present all of the things that I believe in specific detail. No one's going to get a pass this election. No one. And whether it's myself or Arnold or Tom or Peter, the voters of this state understand that this is a serious situation, that they're going to select the next CEO of this multibillion enterprise we call the state of California.
SCHIEFFER: And that...
BUSTAMANTE: They want to hear specific proposals, not concepts, not beginnings, not positions; clear, decisive plans.
SCHIEFFER: All right.
BUSTAMANTE: And I think that that's what they're going to be doing.
SCHIEFFER: Thank you very much. We'll stop there. Maybe we'll talk with you later.
SCHIEFFER: Back with a final word in just a minute. Thank you, Governor.
BUSTAMANTE: My pleasure.
SCHIEFFER: As I watched the commotion over the Ten Commandments at the Alabama Supreme Court last week, the thought that kept running through my mind was this: What if Judge Moore had insisted on placing a large statue of the Buddha in the lobby, or perhaps a tribute to Mohammed, the founder of Islam? That's not so far-fetched, you know. There are more Muslims in America than Episcopalians and a sizeable Buddhist population, too. It's not inconceivable that one day a Muslim will be elected to a U.S.court. Would Judge Moore's supporters expect a Muslim-American judge to keep his religion a personal matter or would they want him to use his position to promote Islam?
I don't question their sincerity or their piety, but I hope they've begun to think about that, because Islam, like Judaism and Christianity, has been the guiding light now for millions of our citizens.
Someone once said that any religion that needs the help of the state is not a very powerful religion. To suggest that these great religions, which have survived for thousands of years, somehow need or require the state government of Alabama to promote them is not only questionable, it borders on the blasphemous.
The true place of honor for the Ten Commandments is not a state courthouse, but the churches and synagogues of America. An even better place is deep inside our hearts. To place them otherwise is not to honor, but to trivialize them.
That's it for us. We'll see you next week right here on Face The Nation.