Guests: Bill Simon, Ron Silver, Scott Carter, Arianna Huffington
FRANK LUNTZ, HOST: The recall election in California, is it about Arnold? Is it all over? The president wants money for Iraq. Is it about the dollars? Does it make sense? And the candidates make promises everywhere. Is it all about the sound bite? As soon as I’m Frank Luntz and these are AMERICA’S VOICES.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to see some vision. I want to see not just bashing Bush.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the war for the future of the Middle East.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to invest in the children, they are our future.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is still about the economy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should we not be rebuilding Iraq?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are so many people in this country that are suffering.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you guys are so politically insane.
LUNTZ: Welcome to AMERICA’S VOICES, where you, the American people, are front and center. No media leaks, no special interest, no sugarcoating, just straight talk from America.
We’re coming to you from Sunset Boulevard in sunny California. We’re only hours away from either an historic recall-or not. Recent polls have shown more Americans are following the recall race than the Democratic presidential campaign.
Joining me is former Republican candidate for governor, Bill Simon.
I got to start with you. Are you sorry that you dropped out?
BILL SIMON ®, FMR. CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: No.
LUNTZ: You’re not.
LUNTZ: Sorry that you came in?
SIMON: No, I’m glad I came in. Off camera I was talking to Julie. She thanked me for getting in. In a lot of ways this was an opportunity to talk about the issues that face our great state. At the end of the day the way I looked at it, there were too many Republicans in the race. Being a Republican, I’m very interested in having a Republican governor. I felt with too many Republicans in, that lessened the chance for someone with a very conservative economic agenda, which I think is what we need right now in California.
LUNTZ: Does this recall make you feel proud to be a Californian?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely it makes me feel proud.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we get to decide it. It is not something
” people say it had to do with the $2 million and Darrell Issa putting it forward. But that’s not true, 2 million people had to sign a petition saying they’d vote for it. And when we go on election day, on October 7, everybody - you know, it’s going to take 51 percent of people in order to actually recall the governor. So, I’m getting a voice.
LUNTZ: Do you feel that way?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, 3.4 million people voted for Gray Davis, which almost double the number of people-in fact, it is more than double, the 1.6 million that signed the recall petition.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will have more than 3.4 million voting for the winner of this election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let’s hope so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The purpose of an election, if we’re going to have a recall within a year-
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen, if I do a bad job-if I work and I do a
bad job -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me finish my statement, then you get to jump in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me personally, a recall should occur when a man either commits a felony or publicly abuses his office. That’s not the charge here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That’s not California law here either. Now, if I do a bad job, at my job or your job-if we do a bad job, we’re fired. Governor Davis has done a bad job. It’s time for him to be fired.
LUNTZ: This has divided California. There are people who might otherwise find common ground politically that have now distanced themselves. Do you think this is a good thing?
SIMON: I think it’s a great thing. Not just a good thing. I agree with Richard and John.
They seemingly have different points of view. But they really don’t. They don’t for this reason Richard is right, we had an election last November. So, unless something has changed, we shouldn’t have a recall.
But John is right, too. Something has changed. During the election campaign, Richard, with all due respect, Gray Davis lied. He lied about the budget.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I’m sorry that budget statement did come out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That budget figure did not come out till afterwards, so that’s the facts. So the numbers did not come out until after the election. To assign him that he knew this before hand is false.
SIMON: Let me respond. On November 1 — I know because I was campaigning. On November 1, Gray Davis said the budget deficit will be, this coming year, $12 billion. On November 1, I publicly said that is nonsense. The budget deficit will be well over $20 billion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were running against him.
SIMON: No, no, hold on, John.
SIMON: He accused me of playing politics. A week after the election, 11 days later, November 12, Gray Davis said the budget deficit magically had grown from $12 billion to $35 billion. I don’t believe myself that Gray Davis didn’t know on November 1, with a finance staff of 500 people and with tax receipts dramatically slowing down, that that budget deficit was far worse than he admitted.
And I think, on that basis alone, that’s a significant change.
LUNTZ: Hold on. I need to look to the future. How many of you watched the debate that Arnold Schwarzenegger participated in?
We’re going to be joined later by another former gubernatorial candidate. But there was an exchange between Arnold and Arianna Huffington that I want you to watch, because I want to get your reaction to. Let’s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, FMR. CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: It is completely hypocritical, of Arnold...
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: Arianna...
HUFFINGTON: Let me finish...
SCHWARZENEGGER: We’re talking about tax cuts, right now, not about education.
HUFFINGTON: Let me finish...
SCHWARZENEGGER: And we’ll never get to the ...
HUFFINGTON: This is the way you treat women, we know that, but not now.
(CROWD APPLAUSE, CROWD BOOING)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a direct and personal attack on Mr.
Schwarzenegger, so would you respond?
SCHWARZENEGGER: I would like to say that I just realized I have a perfect part for you in “Terminator 4”. That’s it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUNTZ: OK, I got to ask you, by a show of hands, regardless of who you are voting for, show of hands, who got the better part of that exchange? Who would say Arianna? And who would say Arnold?
So, even though a lot of you support Arnold, even though a lot of you
” oppose Arnold, you thought he did better. Was that a proper comment for a gubernatorial candidate to make?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, because she kept goading him. She didn’t answer the questions. All she talked about was how much she disagreed for President Bush’s policies. She is not running for governor of California.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no. And when I say that he got the better part of the question, it’s not that I think-or the better part of the exchange-it’s not because he came out ahead. It’s because he was able to zip in one of his snippy little sound bites to completely cut her off. She made a valid point. Apparently, she had a lot of foresight mentioning the way he treats women.
LUNTZ: Barbara, your reaction to that exchange?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought that her remark was totally uncalled for. She was taking the emphasis off what she was supposed to be talking about and went for him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He kept interrupting her.
LUNTZ: What would have you done in that debate or in that situation if going against an opponent and they were speaking and speaking and speaking? What would you have done?
SIMON: You know you ought to try your best to stick with the issues, honestly. Now, when you make a joke, you take a risk that you will come across as flippant, non-gubernatorial. You had two points of view, you know, Cruz Bustamante in another exchange, basically said, now, Arianna, Arianna. He took a different approach.
LUNTZ: Actually, we’re going to go to that clip right now. I don’t mean to cut you off, but I want you all to take a look at this clip. Then you are going to react to this exchange involving Cruz Bustamante.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHWARZENEGGER: You know what you guys do, you politicians.
CRUZ BUSTAMANTE (D), CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: Yes, Arnold, go ahead.
SCHWARZENEGGER: You go into the classroom, you do a photo op, and then you leave and then we never see you again.
BUSTAMANTE: Uh-huh, right.
SCHWARZENEGGER: I am there all the time for providing the after-school programs. And you know that.
HUFFINGTON: Let me just say-
BUSTAMANTE: OK, if you want to talk over me, that’s one thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUNTZ: Your reaction to Cruz Bustamante’s performance there?
SIMON: You know, I think he comes across as patronizing in that situation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very demeaning.
LUNTZ: You agree with that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. I thought he was absolutely and demeaning to everyone there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That’s why he dropped in the polls so much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He established himself as an insider by doing that, he’s a part of the machine that has been doing this. He put himself in that place.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was very condescending. Very condescending to Arnold.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His manner was almost robotic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Arnold has refused to debate unless the questions were scripted. He deserves to be patronized.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not lately.
SIMON: No, actually, Tanya, that’s actually not true. What happened a couple of weeks before the debate is Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote a letter to the Broadcasters’ Association, that sponsored the debate, and said I don’t want the questions to be scripted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He’s done other debates though, he could have debated.
SIMON: No, no, I think you have to know that he didn’t want to get attacked. He was willing to debate once and he wanted to do it, if you will, unscripted, fair and square in his own mind. To that one point, I would disagree.
LUNTZ: OK, I got to ask you, as I asked your other former gubernatorial opponents...
LUNTZ: ... who is going to win Tuesday?
SIMON: Arnold Schwarzenegger.
LUNTZ: So, Gray Davis will be recalled and Arnold wins?
SIMON: That’s right.
LUNTZ: We’ll be watching very carefully. Bill, thank you very much.
When we come back, a well-known Hollywood celebrity-and foreign policy expert-talks about the president and Iraq. Does $87 billion sound like a lot of money to you? It does to me. Stick around. You are watching AMERICA’S VOICES.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have conducted a thorough assessment of our military and reconstruction needs in Iraq, and also in Afghanistan. I will soon submit to Congress a request for $87 billion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUNTZ: You just heard President Bush describe the need for funding. How do you react, Jay, a word or phrase, to $87 billion being spent in Iraq?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Outrageous.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whatever it takes to get the job done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Budget busting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sloppy backtracking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bearing any burden.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Outrageous, unprecedented and not what we were told in April.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A drop in the bucket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Insane.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It’s a necessity. We need to finish what we started over there, whatever it takes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I agree with John. It’s necessary for our homeland security.
LUNTZ: Very interesting. Joining the panel for this discussion is my very special guest, a talented actor who has played Henry Kissinger, Bobby Riggs and two members of the O.J. defense team - although, never O.J. Simpson-from the new hit series, “Skin”, Ron Silver, welcome to AMERICA’S VOICES.
RON SILVER, ACTOR, FOUNDER, CREATIVE COALITION: Thank you.
LUNTZ: Most of their reactions seem pretty negative. Should they be hostile to $87 billion?
SILVER: No, I don’t think so, I agree with Tracy and John-and I can’t see the fellow’s name in the back there-Lance, and the other people who said it was a responsible thing to do. Congress gave him an overwhelming mandate to go into Iraq and do what he did. It would be irresponsible not to give him the money.
LUNTZ: But hasn’t times changed? Haven’t, we, now seen what was done during the war has not succeeded after the war?
SILVER: No, I think it has succeeded.
LUNTZ: You do?
SILVER: I think the success has been measurable and demonstrable, absolutely.
LUNTZ: You think it’s successful?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don’t think so.
LUNTZ: Why not?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, daily our troops get killed there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, daily our troops do get killed there.
That, unfortunately, is a fact of war. If you compare three or four lives
” I’m not trying to diminish the cost of life-but it is minimal in comparison to any other war out there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The stability in the Middle East is absolutely crucial to us for the security of the United States, and the rest of the world. And it’s worth far, far more than $87 billion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I would argue this war has done nothing to stabilize the situation. In fact, it has destabilized the situation in the Middle East.
Going back to the money, adjusted for inflation, this $87 billion is twice as much as the Marshall Plan cost at the end of World War II.
LUNTZ: Your reaction?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It’s a disgrace.
SILVER: Do you think the Marshall Plan was worth it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At $44 billion adjusted, yes, it was. But $87 billion? Ron, I think it’s...
SILVER: You may look back on this and say it was worth it. The situation in the Middle East was untenable. Hussein being in power there represented a constant source of instability.
That’s why we had thousands of troops in Saudi Arabia, which was the core grievance of Osama bin Laden. We have closed Sultan Air Base. Are troops are not in Saudi Arabia anymore. And if it works the way it should work, it could be a beacon of hope that could actually change the Middle East.
I would suggest to you, one other thing, the only other thing is this:
That our enemies understood what the war was about better than most Americans and certainly most Europeans.
LUNTZ: Yes, but some people....
SILVER: They understood that the projection of American power in the Arab world would change everything forever.
LUNTZ: Ron ...
SILVER: They wanted us to be the Soviet Union and, they, to be Afghanistan.
LUNTZ: Some people have said that this actually increased the number of enemies toward the U.S. We are at lower polling numbers worldwide than we have ever been.
LUNTZ: I know you live for polls. But I would suggest to you that we’re in a war and we’re going to be in a war for as long as we were with the Soviet Union, perhaps 40 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ron, the Cold War never got hot like this.
SILVER: Never got hot like this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what won the Cold War was not American...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What won the Cold War was not American military power. It was the soft power of America. It was the ...
SILVER: No, no.
LUNTZ: One at a time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People wanted to be like us.
LUNTZ: Richard, jump in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were told, first, there was the threat of nuclear weapons, then it was weapons of mass destruction. We were told we’d be welcome with opened arms. Now, all these things did not come true. Isn’t it time to admit that maybe we were sold a bill of goods, even if we are now stuck?
SILVER: Richard, we were never told there were nuclear weapons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here, here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, never.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Within a year, we were told, they would have nuclear weapons.
SILVER: Did anybody on this panel see the same U.N. debates over the last 14 years that I did?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
SILVER: With 16 resolutions, where France said they have WMD; the U.N. said they had WMD, Hans Blix said they had WMD.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those are all resolutions by the United Nations...
LUNTZ: Wait one second, this is supposed to be a discussion about $87 billion and yet you all have brought this into weapons of mass destruction. Is it WMD that matters, or the amount of money?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, then let’s turn back to the money because the president originally said that this war was going to pay for itself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, where is the oil money?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly, it said $50 to $100 billion was the original estimate by this administration-total cost. We have already exceeded that in less than six months.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we just got there.
SILVER: So, what you are saying about this is that...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will be there for years to come.
SILVER: We have gotten rid of Hussein and could change the post-Cold War world...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we don’t know that that’s going to happen.
SILVER: And it is costing you more money than you were told?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...argue that it is going to be instability that is going to lead us from this point, not stability.
LUNTZ: I want to bring Donald Rumsfeld-hold on-I want to bring Secretary Rumsfeld in. He talked about $20 billion of this going to the Iraqi police. Let’s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Some have properly asked why the American taxpayers should pay $20 billion to train Iraqis, to provide for their own security in that country and to repair Iraqi infrastructure. It’s a fair question. The answer is so that Iraqis can take responsibility for their own security and for the reconstruction of their own country as quickly as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUNTZ: Do you agree or disagree?
SILVER: In terms of eventually turning over responsibility to Iraq?
SILVER: Of course I agree. Everybody does.
LUNTZ: How long will it take?
SILVER: I don’t know how long it will take, but how ever long it takes, it will be worth while.
LUNTZ: Do American voices have a right to ask how long it will take?
SILVER: Of course they do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why not?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, we have a right to ask the question. But for me the answer is however long it takes. After World War II, we had to go back in there and rebuild a large part of Europe. And it has been to our benefit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did the same thing in Vietnam.
LUNTZ: Go ahead, John.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We pulled out of Vietnam. We had Vietnam war won, we pulled out of there because we ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me? We had the war won?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had the war won.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had that won?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We won the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had that won, all we had to do was stay the course and stick with it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really, John? And you know what, then we would still be there today. American soldiers would still be dying in the rice paddies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That’s not true.
LUNTZ: I have to ask you a question, anyone here in the military? Has anyone been in the military-you have been in the military? And you have been in the military.
What does this mean for our military personnel when we are spending this much money when there is no end in sight? What does it mean for families? What does it mean for the future of all those American personnel that are stationed over there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the first picture you get is a lot of my friends in the Marine Corps are coming back week after week in these units and you get a totally different picture of what is going on in the country.
Schools are being built. The populous comes up to them on a regular basis-in the vast majority of Iraq, and they appreciate them. If $87 billion is the next investment and I realize it is going to be more than that long term, that’s the right investment to send the signal to those troops, that’s the best quality of life, I’d say to give them what they need so they can come home.
LUNTZ: You agree or disagree?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I agree with him. But I want to add some more. I think that $87 billion is rather small. We spend...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it is small. Because when you compare what we spend on maybe our social budget and on even Congress itself, and some of the spending and the waste we have, $87 billion is just a small amount for us to pay to get some security and get peace in the Middle East.
LUNTZ: Ron, is $87 billion the right amount? Should there be more spent?
SILVER: I don’t know how much money it will cost, but whatever it costs will be well worth it, certainly better than farm subsidies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But who will pay for it?
LUNTZ: Hold on, one final question. One final question: Why is it that Hollywood is so hostile to this war, still, today?
SILVER: I don’t know that Hollywood is. I cannot speak for Hollywood. I know a lot of members of the community are and I think a lot of that has to do with a visceral dislike of this president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That’s the issue.
LUNTZ: Are you at all afraid to speak out in favor of the war?
SILVER: Not at all.
LUNTZ: OK, Ron Silver, thanks for being here.
When we come back, “Them’s Fightin’ Words”. This was fighting words right here. You are watching AMERICA’S VOICES on MSNBC.
LUNTZ: It’s a tradition as old as the political campaign itself. It’s the smear campaign where rival politicians and their cronies go on the offensive and often get offensive with epithets designed to destroy a the competition’s credibility.
And thanks to the magic of television, we get a chance to play these choice words and get your reaction in a segment we call “Them’s Fightin’ Words”. Here’s this week’s pick.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will this last-minute attack, these attack ads, make much difference in the election in about a week?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Gray Davis is known, has been known, throughout his political career for slash and burn politics. What we now call “puke politics” in California. To the extent he engages in puke politics in the final weeks of the campaign will remind voters of one more reason why they don’t like him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUNTZ: “Puke politics”, that’s a pretty strong phrase. Is that appropriate for what is going on in California?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I mean, all we’re seeing from Gray Davis is why everybody else is bad, not what he has done to benefit society, what he has done to build up our economy, what he has done positive. If all we are seeing is the negative, then what is the incentive for me to vote for him?
LUNTZ: Maybe he’s talking about the positive and only the press is reporting the negative?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If that’s the case, then it is something that we’re not seeing it on long extremely long shows even. We’re not seeing-any type, even in a 20-minute interview with him, we’re not seeing positives.
LUNTZ: Does it help the political discourse when they use phrases like “puke politics”?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it creates a negativism and I think really think that this recall election is not about Arnold, it is about the integrity of the Democratic process. So, the fact that you even started off with that question, I’m I’m offended. I hope you get back on track.
LUNTZ: Well, then you will be very offended by the next question here.
LUNTZ: How are we going to raise the quality of political discourse in this state and have a recall, or is that impossible?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To raise the quality, you have to reject those that sink to the low level.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Therefore, it’s up to the people to let the politicians know we’re just sick of this stuff and we’re not going to take it anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think a recall-just kind of generates this kind of puke politics on both sides. People are attacking Davis unfairly for things that have been coming down the pike, with the economy tanking. Davis is counter attacking.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The puke politics and the recall campaign are nothing to what they were in November 2002, that Governor Davis ran against Bill Simon. That was awful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be more understandable people took on policies rather than persons. It seems that Davis can’t bring himself to that level.
LUNTZ: There are a lot of people here who supported gray Davis in the past. His campaigns have, by all evaluations, been among the most negative. Doesn’t it frustrate you, those who support Gray Davis, in terms of how he has communicated?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know, no one is going to accuse gray Davis of being fuzzy and lovable.
LUNTZ: No, but there’s a difference between fuzzy lovable and being negative. Would you say Gray Davis has been negative?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say the culture that has-
LUNTZ: Has Gray Davis been negative?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gray Davis is part of the culture.
LUNTZ: Has he been negative?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure, he has, but so has every other politician of his ilk. And if you really want to puke, then you have to just realize that this recall was started the day he was sworn in again for his second term.
LUNTZ: I’m not sure about that, but I know I don’t want to puke.
When we come back, we’re joined by Scott Carter, executive of “Real Time With Bill Maher”, trying to figure out what the candidates are really trying to say. You are watching AMERICA’S VOICES.
LUNTZ: Welcome back to AMERICA’S VOICES.
Between the California recall and the Democratic presidential campaign, it seems someone somewhere is making political promises in front of a TV camera. But there is a difference between a promise and a plan. There’s also a difference between saying you have a plan and actually explaining what it is. The question is, do candidates mean what they say, and say what they mean?
My special guest to help us out with this issue is a man who knows something about the ebb and flow of political politicking and language, Scott Carter, executive producer of “Real Time with Bill Maher” on HBO. Welcome to AMERICA’S VOICES.
And great show, by the way.
SCOTT CARTER, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, “REAL TIME”: Thank you very much, Frank.
LUNTZ: How many of you watch the show?
(CROSS TALK, APPLAUSE)
CARTER: Very good, wonderful. You are very discerning.
LUNTZ: Your show focuses very often, it makes light of and really takes a lot of-puts pressure on these candidates when they say things that don’t seem to make sense.
I guess I have to ask you, if you compare politics today with 10, 20 years ago, are candidates more explicit today, are they more direct today, or are they hiding behind sound bites, pollsters and punditry and all of that?
CARTER: I wasn’t covering 20 years ago. But when I used watch politicians on television 20 years ago, I’d say they were a lot more formal 20 years ago. I’d say there’s a greater sense of entitlement. And I think maybe a change with the boxers and briefs question and Clinton going on Arsenio with a saxophone.
That it kind of shifted, that the candidate was actually someone who was sort of auditioning for you like a beauty pageant contestant. I saw John Kerry on the “Today” show, about a month ago, and he had a swimsuit competition, he was out in the surf, gliding. And then he had a talent competition, he had is guitar for Jamie Gangell (ph).
LUNTZ: Do you feel the candidates are talking to you or are they talking over you, are they talking under you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don’t think-they aren’t talking to me. Arnold Schwarzenegger, for instance, is talking to an audience that I can’t comprehend, even listens to him or pays attention to him. He has nothing to say. It’s empty words and broad generalities.
LUNTZ: What about the Democrats, does Wesley Clark talk to you?
Does Howard Dean talk to you? Does Dick Gephardt talk to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, actually. Maybe I’m partisan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Democrats do speak to me, actually. They speak to issues I’m concerned about, health, and education and the environment.
LUNTZ: For you it’s not as much what they say, it’s the issues that they’re focusing on that matters?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, absolutely.
LUNTZ: We got a segment here from Dick Gephardt. A man I’m going to have you react to it, because I don’t totally understand what he is getting at. Let’s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK GEPHARDT (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a health care plan that I think will stimulate the economy much more than the Bush tax cuts, will create more jobs, put more people to work and solve a major, major problem that we have for every American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUNTZ: He has been talking a lot about the health care plan. But I haven’t seen any details. Should we have to see details?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Details will alienate a significant block of voters.
LUNTZ: Do they alienate you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it comes out it probably will because it will say raise taxes.
LUNTZ: So, you are telling me that these candidates should not be honest with us?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I’m saying they can not be honest because they don’t want to risk losing voters.
LUNTZ: Can a candidate be honest?
CARTER: Well, I think Matt is identifying something very interesting, which is when you do so much through television, television is a glib medium. Even though it’s the medium in which I earn my living, but I think what you have to do in a political race is augment what you get on television to reading the newspapers.
Gephardt’s health plan was picked over in “The New York Times” and a lot of other publications. I think a lot of people don’t take the time to read. And so then they get reduced to seeing whatever the few words and the few images that are projected by a campaign and make an evaluation base based on that.
LUNTZ: So, then who do you blame? Do you blame the candidates for speaking in sound bytes or the press for reporting sound bytes?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I blame the people actually. It’s the people that are ultimately responsible. They have to come to their own judgments. That’s why we don’t get specifics from Arnold Schwarzenegger.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have someone running for governor who says elect me and then I’m going to figure it all out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trust me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly, it just doesn’t ring true.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is saying that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arnold Schwarzenegger.
LUNTZ: I want to show you all the sound bite that Arnold gave in response to the attacks about his relationship with women. Do you feel like he explained it, did he articulate it or not? Let’s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHWARZENEGGER: I have behaved badly sometimes. Yes, it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets and I have done things that were not right, I thought then was playful. But now I recognize that I have offended people. And to those people that I have offended, I want to say to them, I’m deeply sorry about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUNTZ: Do you accept that apology?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Honestly? No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want? What do you want the guy to do?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, wait, let me finish.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He’s coming clean, he’s saying-all right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait, let me finish, I am an Arnold Schwarzenegger voter. Do I think it’s sincere? No. Do I recognize this is what he has to say because it’s come out? Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What more can he do? I’ll put it that way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not run for governor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember this, “I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky”?
LUNTZ: One at a time.
CARTER: This is also a major problem with politicians, which is the pattern of responses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he’s coming clean as soon as the issue arises.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you so-
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His campaign denied it -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First it didn’t happen, then it didn’t happen, and then I made it up now it is I’m sorry.
LUNTZ: Why are you so emotional? Wait one second. Why are you so emotional?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I’m passionate about the issues and I’m passionate about how certain people in this recall election are being misrepresented.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, please. Give me a break.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it upsets me that they come three or four days before the election all of a sudden all this stuff is all revealed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We’re all so upset.
LUNTZ: Hold on. Barbara?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I totally accept what he said. I was here. I was in 1977 when he-I know what the lifestyle was, I know what the climate was, I know what was going on here. I know how things have changed since then. We were living in a different world at that time. Arnold was part of it.
Do I accept his apology? Of course, I do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I’m really more interested in this Hitler issue.
The man has said he admired Hitler. How do we explain that?
LUNTZ: What does that have anything to do with what happened up there? Do you accept this apology, Jill?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because he had to say it to take it out of the spin cycle.
LUNTZ: Elena, do you accept his apology?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, absolutely not. It’s the smoke and mirrors.
Actions speak louder than words. When you really look at sexual derogatory comments that he’s made and actually the actions that he has had with people, groping them, that’s just really inexcusable.
LUNTZ: Merlene (ph), do you accept his apology?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I do not accept his apology. This is why.
He should have known right from wrong way back then. That’s where I go, regardless of the times. He should know right from wrong.
LUNTZ: Please go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Regardless of the time, you know right from wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This happened two years ago.
LUNTZ: Cameron, go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A, the thing back in the ’70s, I agree with Barbara, that was a lifestyle choice. As far as a movie set is concerned, I don’t know exactly what went on. These women were offended. Did they express that to him in any way? Has anyone ever expressed to him?
LUNTZ: Yes. We have to get out.
Scott, what does it mean, their reactions to this apology?
CARTER: I think-well, we had reactions all over the place. I think it just-I think that it just indicates how people don’t necessarily know how to react. And I think it takes a couple of days for them to fall.
What is interesting the people I listen to who support Arnold anyway, find the apology acceptable. Those who don’t like him anyway, find the apology insincere.
LUNTZ: When we come back, we are going to be joined by Arianna Huffington. You are watching AMERICA’S VOICES.
LUNTZ: With the recall only hours away, we’re joined with a very special guest to talk about her experiences running for governor and what this election really means.
Arianna Huffington, are you glad, in the end, that you were a candidate?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, FMR. CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: I’m very glad. We have known each other for a long time. I never thought I would run for office. I have always been a sort of activist/journalist.
I’ve always done other things, other than writing like organizing the shadow conventions in 2000, to address issues that were not addressed by the two major parties. About co-founding the Detroit Project about fuel efficiency and oil independence. But running for office became a reality only because this is such an unusual election. I didn’t have to run in a primary. I didn’t have to belong to either of the two major parties.
LUNTZ: You called it an unusual election. Is this a good election?
HUFFINGTON: I think in the end it’s a good election unless Arnold
Schwarzenegger is elected in which case -
HUFFINGTON: In which case it would be a very bad election. Otherwise I think there’s been an unprecedented amount of attention being paid to politics. A lot of the disaffected voters are paying attention and that has always been one of my major preoccupations.
LUNTZ: We have a couple of people who have not participated. Have you voted in a California election before?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
LUNTZ: You haven’t? Is this a good election to you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it’s direct democracy in action. It’s replacing one of the slimiest governors-well hopefully ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, come on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...replacing one of the slimiest governors we have had in recent history.
LUNTZ: You wouldn’t agree?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not at all. I don’t agree with the recall process. Because what Arianna said, was actually a valid point. It is too easy to get on the ballot in a recall. It should be harder to remove a sitting official from office than easier.
LUNTZ: Is this a good election to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes and no. I do agree the way the recall was
handled probably has its negativities. But I’m very grateful that all the voices have stood up and stood up against Gray Davis.
LUNTZ: Now, you would have voted for Arianna?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would have voted for Arianna on a clean slate.
If it were Arianna against Gray Davis in 2002, I would have campaigned for you. In the recall election, I’m not supporting any candidate to date. I very much appreciate the issues that you have raised throughout the whole process.
HUFFINGTON: But you would have just voted no on the recall and nothing else?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
HUFFINGTON: Well, a lot of people are going to be doing that, especially right now when it has effectively become a two-person race, Gray Davis versus Arnold Schwarzenegger. The reason I pulled out of the race was because realistically I felt the most effective way, for me, to achieve something on election day would be to campaign against the recall and against Schwarzenegger. Because the two things are now interconnected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don’t think it’s a good election in this instance. Because we could have Gray Davis get 49 percent of the vote and lose to a candidate that gets 30 percent of the vote, on the second half of the ballot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just think it’s completely duplicitous that a candidate be in the election and yet say no on Davis, but yes on me. That is what bothers me about a lot of these guys (ph).
HUFFINGTON: You are absolutely right. While I was running, I was telling my supporters vote your conscience. Vote no on the recall and vote for me as an insurance, or vote yes on the recall. I personally-if you are running for governor and know you would make a better governor than Gray Davis, you personally have to vote for the recall, otherwise it doesn’t make quite sense. That is the problem partly with Cruz Bustamante. When you say no on the recall and yes-
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But that’s a political necessity for left-leaning people. When Cruz got into the race-I don’t think I will support him-but when he got into the race there was no Democratic alternative. So we were left with either lose Gray or, god forbid, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But I do have a question for you, with all due respect, if you believed in the recall at one point, and now from my perception you don’t, is that sour grapes? You changed. I really admire you as a person, as a woman, but I don’t admire that. I’m really sorry that you are taking that point of view.
HUFFINGTON: If you go to my Web site, Ariannaonline.com, there’s a column I wrote on July 9 in which I expressed all my problems with the recall process. I do believe that the recall is not the best way to conduct our democracy. And, I actually-while campaigning said on October 8 — I would like to reform the recall provision, to make it much harder to recall a governor, much harder for a candidate to qualify to be governor. Everything I’m saying is completely consistent. Right now, there’s a clear and present danger in this state.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, you are willing to use the recall election to get into office if you had been able to get the vote.
HUFFINGTON: Absolutely, you bet you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To turn around and say, but I don’t want it to ever happen to me?
HUFFINGTON: No, no, let me just say something. I absolutely-our system is so broken. It’s so hard to remove and part of the all elements of the broken status quo, that I think any window of opportunity that exists and the recall was a window of opportunity closed and there will be no independent progressive governor, but while it was open, absolutely I would use it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arianna, you said we now have the most active and informed electorate in at least repeat memory.
HUFFINGTON: I think it is active and informed because they’re paying attention.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, you’re saying, OK, they’re active and informed. And we’re going to have a record turnout, I think everyone agrees. If that record turnout does choose Arnold Schwarzenegger, how can you disagree with that? Because the people are getting into politics now.
HUFFINGTON: I’m not disagreeing with the outcome. We don’t have an outcome yet. I’m working to affect the outcome. That’s very different. Whatever the people choose, they will choose. I believe Arnold Schwarzenegger has spent millions of dollars to craft a political persona, which does not in anyway correspond to reality.
LUNTZ: How can you say that?
HUFFINGTON: Let me give you some examples.
HUFFINGTON: He entered the race saying that he is going to take no special interest money and he is going to use his own money to finance his campaign because he wanted to be independent. He has taken millions from all the same interests that have business in front of Sacramento, like big developers.
LUNTZ: But they’re individual contributions, they’re not from companies.
HUFFINGTON: Oh, but these are ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He got a $4 million loan in order to-well, we won’t even know who the contributors are until afterwards. He won’t even know, that’s when the special interests...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It’s rank hypocrisy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess, it would have been better to be Bustamante and take the money and put it to your old campaign and then funnel it a whole other direction.
HUFFINGTON: That’s wrong, too. You are absolutely right.
LUNTZ: Do you think, if Bustamante, had not taken that money from the Indians, millions and millions of dollars, do you think that he would still be in the race. I mean do you think he would have a shot of winning?
HUFFINGTON: First of all, the way it is playing out, the first debate when I described it as legalized bribery and the way it played out in the media has hurt him very deeply. He has been see as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Indian gaming tribes. That hurt him.
LUNTZ: So, make a prediction because we got to get out. Will Davis still the governor next Wednesday, yes or no?
HUFFINGTON: I really don’t know. I really mean it.
LUNTZ: Make a prediction.
HUFFINGTON: Do I have to?
LUNTZ: Yes, make a prediction. Don’t be a politician. Take a stand.
HUFFINGTON: Dear god, dear god. May it work out that Schwarzenegger is not governor.
LUNTZ: That’s not the prediction. One last shot. Arianna Huffington, will Gray Davis be governor on Wednesday?
HUFFINGTON: I really don’t know.
LUNTZ: Well, there it goes, once a politician, always a politician.
You are watching AMERICA’S VOICES.
LUNTZ: Welcome back to AMERICA’S VOICES. We’re an interactive show and we want you at home to interact with us every week by answering our poll questions and visiting us at Voices@msnbc.com.
Last we asked you which Hollywood celebrities politics annoy you the most, 38 percent picked Arnold as the most annoying. Martin Sheen got 17 percent. Dennis Miller’s neoconservatism earned him a 27 percent annoyance. And Jean Garofalo edged out Sheen on the liberal side with 18 percent.
Does this mean conservatives annoy you more than liberals, or maybe a lot of liberals like this show? And here’s this week’s question-
Who would the “Sex & the City” characters be most likely to vote for? Would it be Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, John Kerry, Dick Gephardt, Joe Lieberman, Al Sharpton, George W. Bush, or none of them. Go to our Web site Voices.msnbc.com to vote and we’ll reveal the results on next week’s show.
Now it’s important to me that AMERICA’S VOICES is an interactive show and that you at home have a voice just like the people right here.
This week I received an e-mail from a viewer who questioned the objectivity of the show. When viewer John Brooks, from Southern California, e-mailed me his comments, I invited him to create a question that he would ask AMERICA’S VOICES.
So, John, America is watching, thank you very much for coming. What question do you want to ask the panel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should Bob Novak be compelled to divulge his sources if called upon to do so in a formal investigation?
LUNTZ: It’s a legitimate question. It’s a hot topic. Should he, Elena?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I’m going to pass on that one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, he should not be compelled to reveal his
sources. No. 1, the press has always had the prerogative of not revealing
their sources. All we have to do is go back in history to Watergate and to
LUNTZ: But this is national security.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the Pentagon Papers? That was
national security and we didn’t compel them. And furthermore, the CIA person they are talking about was not an agent, she was just a simple analyst.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don’t know that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don’t know she was an analyst, but in spite of that, I actually agree with her position. Because if you force Novak, or any journalist, to reveal his sources, guess what’s going to happen, they’re not going to talk. And the public is going to lose. So as much as I would like to know who it was, I’m sorry, I have to come down that way.
LUNTZ: Does anyone here think he should be compelled?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
LUNTZ: Not one person here? Richard?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Novak and his staff should not be compelled to reveal their source but the person who leaked the information should have the stones to step forward and say this is what I did.
LUNTZ: Final comment, John?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would agree. I don’t think Novak should be compelled to release the source for the simple reason that would deter others from giving information to journalists and that’s not good or serving the public well.
LUNTZ: Do you feel you have you got an answer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I find it very interesting that now, under the Patriot Act, where we’re all asked to give up our liberties, that we’re not ready to step forward and do so in a certain matter of national security.
LUNTZ: I want to thank you for that question. I’m glad you came.
I got to tell you something. Every week from now on, I’m going to address your comments head-on and maybe you’ll end up here as a participant as well.
I’m Frank Luntz. Thanks for watching AMERICA’S VOICES.
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