This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, November 10, 2003, that was edited for clarity.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, will ceding control in Iraq get others like France and Germany to help us in Iraq? Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt (search) says yes and it's time that President Bush listen up.
REP. DICK GEPHARDT, D-MO., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’ve thought for a long time that the president needs to get us help with Iraq. I have thought for a long time that we ought to turn the civil reconstruction of Iraq over to the U.N. and get a lot more help from...
CAVUTO: But do you trust the U.N.?
GEPHARDT: I trust them on civil reconstruction. I think on the security end of it, we ought to be getting a lot more help from NATO because we have done joint things with NATO in Bosnia. We have gotten help from NATO countries in Afghanistan. And I think we need their help in Iraq.
CAVUTO: But are you discouraged, sir, when you see the U.N. reduce its presence because of the escalating violence there, the Red Cross essentially pulling out, that if we are going to rely on foreign institutions, they have to have essentially more guts, right?
GEPHARDT: Well, they’ve got to have more security, and that brings you back to NATO. I mean, look, reconstructing Iraq is a democracy was always going to be a long, difficult, complicated task. I told the president over a year-and-a-half ago, if he wanted to deal with Iraq, if he wanted to bring about change in Iraq, we needed the U.N., we needed NATO. This is a tough job.
CAVUTO: Nevertheless, you stuck by him.
GEPHARDT: This is not Japan and Germany.
CAVUTO: True. You stuck by him, you stuck to stay there, and also to support the $87.5 billion that he wanted which -- in which you part company with those who are challenging the president for the presidency. Do you think that hurts you, that you are so aligned with the president, by and large, on Iraq right now?
GEPHARDT: I try to do what I think this is right thing to do.
CAVUTO: Well, Howard Dean seems to give the impression he'd pull all our troops out.
GEPHARDT: I think that is a big mistake. I mean, you can disagree on why we went there and what the information was and all of that. I understand all that.I still believe it was the right thing to do because I’m worried about weapons of mass destruction in the United States. And I didn’t just listen to George Bush. I went to the CIA myself, listened to all of their information. I talked to former Clinton officials, and they all felt there was a real danger, that either he had weapons or the components of weapons.
CAVUTO: Where do you think those weapons are now?
GEPHARDT: I don’t know. Hopefully, we’ll find what was there and what wasn't there. I also think we need a blue ribbon commission from the outside, not just Congress, looking at the intelligence.
CAVUTO: But some of your colleagues, sir, have said that the president misled the people. Do you think that this president misled either you or your colleagues about the presence of weapons of mass destruction, or the threat of Iraq, period?
GEPHARDT: I didn't just take his word for it. It may be that, in the end, we find out that the intelligence was not what the CIA thought it was, or even former Clinton administration officials thought it was. That is why we need an outside commission. You are getting into partisan fights now in the intelligence committee. You are never going to solve this that way. We need outside sources.
But let me go further. Put all of that aside. Once we’re there, we cannot fail. We cannot just cut and run and leave the place, as we did Afghanistan in 1989, in chaos. It will be the mother of all terrorist training camps. It will be a continuing source of turmoil and problems not only for the region, but for the United States as well. So we've got to see this through but we need help. The president is failing us by not getting the help we need.
CAVUTO: Well, let me ask you, Congressman. I know you are saying we can't be too partisan about it. But don't you think you sound very partisan when you call him an arrogant cowboy or a miserable failure?
GEPHARDT: That's what I believe. I've tried to help him, and I've tried to help him fight against terrorism, because I think that is our responsibility. But I think...
CAVUTO: But this still is -- regardless of your position, sir, he is the president of the United States. Do you think that sends the wrong signal...
GEPHARDT: No, I don't.
CAVUTO: ... to terrorists, when you are calling him a miserable failure?
GEPHARDT: I supported his effort. I have supported the money to win this effort and to get the right things to happen. But in a democracy, you've got to be able to constructively criticize what the leader is doing or not doing that you think is wrong. And I think it is a failure of leadership to not get our troops and to not get our taxpayers the help that we've got to have to win this thing.
CAVUTO: But if you were president, President Gephardt, and you had a lot of Republicans questioning you, or calling you a miserable failure, don't you think your leadership would be compromised?
GEPHARDT: Not at all. You have to have oil in your feather to do these jobs. And you've got to take that criticism and listen to some of it. And he just -- he doesn't listen to what -- I have been trying to tell him this for a year-and-a-half.
I was the constant voice to him, saying, please, go to the U.N., get the inspections started, talk to the people in Europe, talk to these other countries, try to get their help. He waited too long to do it and then he didn’t get it done. But put all that aside. We're there now.
This is a world -- he gave a good speech at the U.N. in September of last year. He said this is a world problem, not just an American problem. I agree with that. And we need the world’s help in solving this problem.
They face terrorism just as much as we do. And they need to help get this thing to go in the right direction.
CAVUTO: Al Gore over the weekend, Congressman, was saying that the Patriot Act has been way overused, it’s a big mistake, a lot of liberties are being compromised. Do you agree with that?
GEPHARDT: I think it is not being administered correctly. I voted for it.
CAVUTO: Yes, you did.
GEPHARDT: Because after 9/11, I knew we had to rebalance freedom and security. Everybody knew that. And I think we did need to do that. But I think there needs to be more oversight by the Congress in what is actually being done day-to-day.
CAVUTO: All right. More with Congressman Dick Gephardt after this, and whether he and the Democrats are fighting for a prize for which any of them could possibly be wiped out in a general election after this.
CAVUTO: Well, many attack the Patriot Act, yet a lot of them voted for it. They attack the tax cuts, yet the economy appears to be coming back because of the tax cuts. So my question to presidential candidate Congressman Dick Gephardt, as we continue, are Democrats putting themselves in an unelectable box? He says no.