<i>FTN</i> Transcript - Nov. 5

face the nation logo, 2009 CBS

Bob Schieffer, CBS
News Chief Washington Correspondent:
Today on Face The Nation, from election headquarters in New York, the last weekend of the election, and it could still go either way. We'll talk about it with Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Bill Daley, chairman of the Gore campaign.

Two days before the election and George Bush is back in Florida, a state he thought he had a lock on. What happened? We'll ask the Florida governor, who happens to be his brother.

And what about Tennessee? Shouldn't his home state be a walk for Al Gore? Apparently not. We'll talk about that with his campaign chairman, Bill Daley.

Then we'll turn to the Senate where Democrats believe they could pick up enough seats to take control. We'll talk with Senators Mitch McConnell and Robert Torricelli, the chief strategists for the two parties. Gloria Borger is here, and I'll have a final word on the joy of voting. But first, the last days of Campaign 2000 on Face The Nation.

Schieffer: Good morning again. We begin this morning in Jacksonville, Florida, where Florida Governor Jeb Bush is standing by. Governor, thank you for coming by.

Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.): It is a joy to be with you.

Schieffer: Let me begin with this question. Why is George Bush, in Florida of all places, this close to the election? After all, you're the governor down there. Everybody thought he had a lock on that state. What happened?

Bush: Well, not everybody. Ask Bill Clinton, who carried Florida in 1996. And since then our state has changed. We have a lot of new people coming into our state, a lot of people that actually leave, and so, every election is different. And we never felt that it was a lock. We've worked very hard from the beginning. We're ahead now because of that, and I think in the end you're going to see Florida in the column.

I'll tell you what. It's a little frustrating every morning to walk up and not have it be in the same color as all those other red states, though, so we're going to make sure it happens.

Schieffer: But what do you think it was? Do you think it was putting Joe Lieberman on the ticket? Do you think Al Gore has been making more sense to people in Florida about Social Security? You have a big senior community there. What is it, do you think?

Bush: Well, I think Senator Lieberman was a good choice for Vice President Gore. And he's been parked down in south Florida. In fact, he's going to have to file his income taxes - we don't have an income tax - but his tax returns, because he's living here now.

And there was, I think, in the beginning some effect temporarily at least on scaring elders that my brother's plans would take away their benefits. But since then I think that's been turned around. And my brother is doing quite well among senior citizens here.

Schieffer: Well, you said in the beginning that you thought ihe could carry Florida, he'd be president. Do you think- are you confident now that he's going to carry Florida?

Bush: I am very confident that he'll carry Florida, and it's a strange year that Vice President Gore has to keep going back to Tennessee, and we're winning in West Virginia and Minnesota and Wisconsin, these places where President Clinton carried those states quite handily. I think the - we're in a different time now, and Florida's part of that. But my brother is going to carry the state.

Gloria Borger, U.S. News & World Report: Governor, let's talk about some of the news of last week about your brother's drinking and driving 24 years ago. Did you know about that at the time?

Bush: No.

Borger: And...

Bush: You know, the strange part of this was it was a surprise when I saw it. That's not to say that my brother wasn't a little rambunctious when he was a young adult - and he has changed, and that's why I think he'll be a great president. He's a great dad and a great husband because of it, as well.

Borger: Yesterday, Senator Bob Kerrey spoke about the matter, and he accused your brother, and I'm going to quote him here for you. He said, he accused him of, quote: "Covering your rear end and protecting yourself; you were concerned about what might happen to you. How dare you say that your character is superior to Vice President Gore?'' How do you respond to that?

Bush: Well, I don't think he's saying that, for starters, and I'm a little disappointed in Senator Kerrey, a man I respect enormously, who was "dissed on" by the Gore campaign early on; I guess he's a partisan. Look, this is the last weekend of a very close election, and things are said that people will regret later on, and I'm discounting what he is saying because he's just wrong and he knows it.

Borger: But don't you think that this - that your brother's campaign is an awful lot about Al Gore's character? He keeps talking about restoring integrity and decency to the White House. The implication there, of course, is that Al Gore would not.

Bush: No, the implication is my brother would, and there's a yearning for it in our country, that there's more to the presidency than just policy. It is to inspire people to be better and do better themselves. And that's what my brother talks about, and that's why people are drawn towards him, and he has huge crowds, and there's an intensity in our state and other places for his election.

Schieffer: Governor, why did your brother suggest the other day that Social Security was not a federal program? I mean, he just flat out said that. Was that a misstatement, was it a malapropism, what happened there?

Bush: It was a misstatement, because what he wants it to be is more than just a federal program. He wants people to be able to invest a portion, a small portion, of their money in the Social Security system sthat they have an investment that will grow faster than the paltry two percent return that the Social Security system earns now. Because if we don't do that, if we just keep doing what we're doing, there's going to be a huge IOU for it in the next two generations of Americans.

And so, he misspoke. Guess what, my brother's imperfect. He doesn't- and I think, by the way, I think maybe Vice President Gore is. It hasn't been proven yet, but I think he's probably imperfect, and so am I and so are you. You know, lighten up a little bit. This is the end of a campaign. Both of them are campaigning 16 hours a day. Missing a word should not be the end of the world.

Borger: Well, yesterday Al Gore told a Memphis prayer breakfast, I'm going to quote again, that "I am taught that deep within us we have the capacity for good and evil. I am taught that good overcomes evil if we choose that outcome, and I feel it coming." Is Al Gore...

(LAUGHTER)

...what's your reaction to that?

Bush: I'm discounting that, too. You know, if the implication is that my brother is evil, then - I'll tell you what. My brother is having breakfast, had breakfast this morning in Jacksonville with Dr. Billy Graham, and I'm confident that Dr. Graham will be able to purge all that evilness from my brother's soul.

Schieffer: How do you see this election. As we said just a minute ago, you have thought that he could be president if he carries Florida. Can you win this election without carrying Florida?

Bush: Sure, but he's going to carry Florida, and you'll see it today on the - in the evening news. You'll see the crowds that we'll get. You'll see the intensity and in a close election, that matters. It matters that we have thousands and thousands of volunteers that aren't paid, that are out there turning out the vote. We have a huge advantage in the absentee ballots, which is a good thing. We have lots of people working very hard, and I think you'll see on, on - in spite of the fact it's close, there's no denying it, that my brother will win Florida.

Schieffer: Give us a prediction. How many electoral votes do you think he'll get?

Bush: I know he's going to get 25, that's my focus.

Schieffer: Governor Bush, thank you very much for joining us.

Bush: Thank you.

Schieffer: And joining us now from Nashville, Tennessee, the Gore campaign chairman, Bill Daley. Mr. Daley, thank you for coming by. Let me just ask you first, what is all this business? This is not an election about good and evil, is it? I mean, do you - should we take the vice president seriously at his word when he says something like that?

Bill Daley, Gore campaign chairman: Al Gore has talked about the struggle in all of our lives between good and evil, not just in the context of an election. It's all about what, he was speaking to at that prayer breakfast, as he has spoken before about the truggles in life that are good and evil, and they are there, and they have been there, struggles on issues, in our country over the years. But he was not talking about a person. It was a comment that, as I say, he's used over the years, about the struggles that go on in all of our lives between good and evil.

Schieffer: But you're not suggesting that George Bush is evil and Al Gore is good, are you?

Daley: No, no, no.

Schieffer: I mean, that was clearly the inference in his remarks.

Daley: No, no, it wasn't. I think you're taking this a little too literally. If you heard the whole speech and his remarks, and you've heard them before use that phrase as he has talked to different groups, especially those whose task in life as ministers is to deal with the struggle of good and evil that goes on in people's lives.

Borger: Well, he does seem to be taking on George W. Bush more directly though these days, Chairman Daley. At a predominantly African-American congregation in Pittsburgh, he said when my opponent talks about strict constructionists for the Supreme Court, I often think of the strictly constructed meaning that was applied when the Constitution was written, how some people were considered three-fifths of a human being. I mean, isn't that over the line?

Daley: No, that's factual, Gloria. No, that's factual. The truth is people who described themselves then as strict constructionists did believe that. That's a fact. That's not - there's no dispute over that. And this is a tough campaign, no doubt about it.

And if you look at the rhetoric that's been used by the governor and by his surrogates, not just in the last number of days of this campaign, but over the last months, if not years, and the harsh commercials. They've spent over $104 million on commercial television commercials alone attacking Al Gore, and very directly attacking him. Plus the $100 plus million that was spent in the primaries on behalf of Governor Bush. It's been a tough campaign. Most of the toughness personally has been directed at Al Gore.

Schieffer: But Mr. Daley, I mean, really now, isn't that a bit of a stretch to suggest that George Bush would appoint people to the Supreme Court who think African-Americans are not quite whole, that they're just three-fifths of being a human being? That's a stretch, isn't it?

Daley: Yes, but Bob, when you use the phrase, as he did, "I want to appoint people who are strict constructionists,'' that phrase has a meaning and you can't ignore that. And people who want to run for...

Schieffer: And that phrase means that....

Daley: Then he should - then he should explain what he means by strict constructionist in today's times. And those people who hear that phrase and think back to when people who used the phrase strict constructionist looked at part of - many of Americans in a different way than they did the maority, then you have an obligation to explain that and be very direct about it, or don't use phrases about that.

Schieffer: Well, I must say - I must say, Mr. Secretary, I have not heard very many people, who were strict constructionists or otherwise, who were believed to think that African-Americans are not whole human beings. I mean, why does that need to be explained?

Daley: Because to many African-Americans, when they hear a presidential candidate use the phrase "strict constructionist,'' they think back to when that phrase was used, and to them it has a serious meaning. So if you're going to use phrases like that, you better have an obligation to explain and define, or don't use phrases like that.

Borger: Chairman Daley, isn't this all about turnout now though. And part of what Al Gore was doing yesterday at this church was trying to turn out his African-American base to vote?

Daley: I think there's no question this is an election that is going to the finish line on Tuesday, and this is probably the only election in modern presidential times when we really don't know the outcome.

I believe strongly that the enthusiasm for Al Gore, the crowds he is gathering as he travels throughout the country, and the sort of Election Day activities that we have planned, very aggressive, very focused and very complete in the major states of our country, will bring a victory to Al Gore.

But it is all about Tuesday, to be frank with you. And it's kind of exciting for those who follow politics that this isn't an election where, all due respect to those in your business, you can predict and tell everybody that it's over. Right now, people know it's close. And that's going to help with the turnout, which I think is extremely important for both candidates.

Schieffer: Now, we talked to Governor Bush about George Bush having a campaign in Florida where everybody thought he had a lock on it. Here in this closing days of the campaign, Al Gore has been in his home state of Tennessee. Is it possible he's not going to carry his own home state?

Daley: No, we believe he will win. But this is a state that has also changed dramatically over the years. It's always a tough state; there's a Republican governor, two Republican senators. It has gone and changed and become much more Republican.

But Al Gore will win this state because the people in Tennessee know that he has been there fighting for them as a congressman, as a senator, and as vice president over the last eight years.

So it's a hotly contested fight here in Tennessee. But the people from Tennessee understand and appreciate what Al Gore can do for this state and for the nation when he's president.

Borger: Very quickly, Mr. Daley, your campaign is hoping that those Nader voters are going to go into the booth, change their minds and vote for Al Gore. A Newsweek poll this morning says 57 percent of them say hey're not going to do that. How much of a problem is that for you?

Daley: Well, there's no question, if you have a candidate who doesn't have a chance of winning getting 4 of 5 or 6 percent, that may make the difference in some states. So those people who believe in choice or believe in who can bring real changes and protect our environment, it's going to be between Al Gore and George Bush who's going to win this election. And if you believe that the issues of environment are important, then you've got to look at the two candidates and say, "Who can make meaningful change, positive or negative, if they win the office?" If you believe in choice, who has been the clearer supporter of a woman's right, and that's Al Gore. And if you care about those issues, I would hope that those voters will think about those issues...

(CROSSTALK)

Schieffer: Just a quick prediction on Florida. Jeb Bush says the Governor Bush will carry it. Do you think you can carry...

Daley: Well, I have great sympathy for him because his brother's running and he's got a lot of pressure on him. But I think he'll come up short on Election Day as far as Florida's concerned.

We feel very good. There's a poll out today showing Al Gore up five points in the state - that's a Miami newspaper that came out. We have lots of enthusiasm. Al's going to be there, Joe Lieberman's going to be there. And so we look forward to Florida being in the column Democratic on Tuesday night.

Schieffer: OK, Bill Daley, thank you. When we come back, we're going to talk with the chairman of the senatorial campaign committees about the fight for control of the Senate, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Schieffer: And with us now from Louisville, Kentucky, Senator Mitch McConnell. Here with us in New York, Senator Robert Torricelli. They are the respective chairmen of their parties' senatorial campaign committees, which means they're the chief strategists and the chief fund-raisers for the Senate candidates in both parties. Senator Torricelli, let's just start right here in New York. Do you think you really have a chance to take control of the Senate?

Sen. Bob Torricelli (D-N.J.): I do. I think we're going to have between 48 and 51 Democratic senators. And anyone who tells you they know better than that is misleading you. The fact is, there are probably six seats now in the margin of error.

Clearly, we have strengthened in the last few weeks. And as people focus on our enormous dominance of these issues - the medical issues on prescription drugs have clearly worked to our advantage, the fight over hiring 100,000 new teachers, rebuilding schools, Republican resistance to it - all these things in recent weeks have strengthened our candidates around the country. The education and health care issues became so clear.

Schieffer: It's going to be a long night for you, though, isn't it? Becausemy guess is, it's going to be awhile before we know who controls the Senate.

Torricelli: You won't ultimately know until you see what happens in Montana and Washington State with Maria Cantwell, which will probably be our 50th or 51st seat. But you'll have a good idea with Chuck Robb in Virginia. If we win in Virginia and Chuck Robb is reelected, I think we're on our way to 50 seats.

Schieffer: OK, Mitch McConnell, what's your prediction?

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): Well, Bob, we're going to win in Nevada and win in Virginia, that gains two Republican seats. I'm increasingly confident we're going to win in Washington, Montana, Michigan and Missouri. And of course, the big pleasant surprise for all of us is going to be right there in New York.

Schieffer: Do you think you're going to win that? What gives you - why are you saying that?

McConnell: Well, Lazio has really been surging lately. And we're - you need to save the ticker tape up there. You may need it for another parade for the new senator from New York.

I'm increasingly confident, Bob, that we're going to still be in the majority for four Congresses in a row, for the first time since the 1920s. That's been our goal from the beginning. And I'm increasingly confident we're going to reach that goal.

Borger: Senator Torricelli, you just heard what he said about New York. What do you have to say about that?

Torricelli: Oh, I think this is always a difficult race for Rick Lazio. Al Gore is going to carry the state by a million and a half votes. Hillary Clinton is the kind of senator New Yorkers like. They like someone who can play on a world stage. And I think when Rick Lazio made this enormous mistake trying to tie Hillary Clinton to terrorists and the U.S.S. Cole was probably the final nail in the Lazio campaign.

Borger: Senator, let me ask you very quickly: Lots of Democrats I talk to say they really did want Bill Clinton out there campaigning for Democratic Senate candidates, campaigning for Democratic congressional candidates, he would bring out the base. And they're kind of upset that the Gore campaign has kept him quarantined, if you will. What's your feeling about that?

Torricelli: Well, the presidential campaign has to dominate. I think it is clear Bill Clinton is very helpful to our campaign committee. He's raised an enormous amount of money. He is the best force in the Democratic Party for getting out the vote and could have been useful in a number of states. But the strategy was what worked best for the Gore campaign. And I understand that. And now of course...

Borger: But you would have liked him out there?

Torricelli: I would have preferred to have him in other states. He's obviously now decided to give these days to helping Hillary here in New York, given that it is his wife, I think we have to understand that.

Schieffer: Senator Mconnell, let's talk about this weird situation down in Missouri where you have John Ashcroft, a Republican senator there, who is on the ballot, and he's the only live person on the ballot because his opponent, Mel Carnahan, of course, along with his son - Mel was the governor down there - was killed in a plane crash. Yet in recent days we've seen this race neck and neck because the acting lieutenant governor or the lieutenant governor who has sworn in as governor, says he'll appoint Governor Carnahan's widow should Carnahan win. What's going to happen there? And if the dead man wins that race, will you challenge it in court?

McConnell: Well, what's happening in Missouri is that as emotion subsides and people begin to think seriously about the decision before them, what's happening is that Senator Ashcroft's experience and stature are carrying the day. He's gotten better and better in the polls each day. We expect him to win next Tuesday, and that will solve the problem. And we really won't have to get into the second issue that you raised because Senator Ashcroft, I'm confident, will win on Tuesday.

Schieffer: What if he doesn't? Will you challenge it in court?

McConnell: Well, he's going to win on Tuesday, so we don't have to get to the second stage. The people of Missouri have been thinking through the process. Increasingly the polls indicate that they believe that the experience and stature of Senator Ashcroft is an indispensable part of having the kind of representation they'd like to have in Missouri, and I think that's going to prevail on Tuesday.

Borger: Senator Torricelli, you are from New Jersey. There's a very hotly contested race there. Jon Corzine spent $40, $50 million of his own money. Republicans say, though, this could be a sleeper for them. How do you read that race?

Torricelli: I think Jon Corzine is overwhelmingly likely to be reelected. New Jersey now is probably the most pro-choice, pro-education, pro-environment, pro-gun-control state in the nation.

Borger: Even if you do say so yourself.

Torricelli: For Republicans to win in New Jersey that have mixed record on this issues is very difficult, the resources notwithstanding. I want to return to Missouri, though, because this is an extraordinary situation where, tragically, Governor Carnahan died. And his winning of this election could determine control of the United States Senate. Overnight, there were reports that there were phone calls being made to people in Missouri telling them to write Jean Carnahan's name in. That, of course, would disqualify their vote. You cannot write her name in. If her husband wins, she would be appointed to the seat. It would rank as one of the most despicable acts I've seen in this election campaign if phone calls like that are being made.

And I think for the people of Missouri, this is evidence that these are not races between people; they are racebetween ideas. Mel Carnahan was a fighter in Missouri for quality education, he fought for health care reform, he was a good and decent man. Jean Carnahan was his partner for 40 years. I think it's admirable that in this time of tragedy she's willing to succeed him.

Schieffer: Senator McConnell, do you know anything about those phone calls?

McConnell: No, I don't. Senator Ashcroft, of course, has been pointing out his experience and his stature in his commercials. I think that is clearly what he ought to do. And I think on Tuesday, Missouri will opt for a well-known, experienced, well-thought-of, incumbent United States Senator.

Schieffer: And I guess most of you think - do you think the Democrats are going to control the Senate, Senator Torricelli, at the end of the night?

Torricelli: I think we have an even chance to control the Senate. I don't think anybody knows.

Schieffer: Senator McConnell, what do you think?

McConnell: I'm increasingly confident that we'll still be in the majority, Bob, when the smoke clears Tuesday night.

Schieffer: All right. Thanks to both of you. We'll be back with the final word in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Schieffer: Finally today, several of my fairly famous colleagues have disclosed they no longer vote as a way of maintaining their neutrality as journalists. I admire their objective, but I don't understand their reasoning. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my job, but it is a job. I wouldn't equate it with voting, which to me is my duty as a citizen, like paying the water bill.

I remember reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich as a young man, and how surprised I was to learn the Nazis had used an election as a springboard to power. Had I lived in Germany then, I hope I could have voted against them. I wouldn't have wanted to be neutral on that one.

Besides, voting is just so much fun. As a reporter, I have to back up what I say with facts. But I need give no reason, marshal no argument for my vote. Maybe I just don't like the candidate's attitude - reason enough to vote against him. Or maybe I think a candidate really is qualified - that's a good reason to vote for him. It is my vote, and I can exercise it any way I choose, but no candidate gets my vote unless I believe he or she deserves it.

We take voting so seriously at my house, my wife has instructed me not to tell even her who I vote for. She's afraid I'll disappoint her. Oh, ye of little faith. But isn't that the best part? We can tell everyone or no one.

So, go vote. It's good for the country and good for you. Makes you feel big and strong.

That's it from us. We'll see you will right here next week on Face The Nation.

END

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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