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Michael Deaver, Reagan's Former Adviser:Preview of the State of the Union Address

This partial transcript of The Beltway Boys, Jan. 26, was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST:  Joining us to preview President Bush's State of the Union address is  former adviser to President Ronald Reagan, Michael Deaver.

Welcome back to the show, Mike.

MICHAEL DEAVER, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT REAGAN:  Thank you, it's  good to be here.

KONDRACKE:  Well, you presided over eight State of the Unions, I  guess.  And have watched a lot more.  Has any State of the Union message  ever been riveting?  And, you know, as Bush is finishing up with his  drafts, how – what should he do this week...

DEAVER:  Well...

KONDRACKE:  ... to make his riveting?

DEAVER:  ... there are very few State of the Unions that are make-or- break for a president.  And I think Bush has already proven he can stand  before the Congress and not only say something important but electrify the  country.  So this is not a test for George Bush.

KONDRACKE:  But, but just in the form of this thing, usually is very  programmatic and, and all the agencies of the government want something in  the speech, and it always runs on long, and it's always, you know, a  laundry list.  Is there any way to freshen it up and make it scintillating?

DEAVER:  Sure.  The best way is for the president to do that.  And I  have a feeling that this president will.  I don't think he will tolerate a  Clintonian speech of an hour and a half that's being changed in the limo on  the way to Capitol Hill.  I think this is probably all set.  He'll talk  about terrorism abroad and here and how we're going to...

KONDRACKE:  Just – just...

DEAVER:  ... how we're going to fee – face it, and he's going to talk  a little bit about the domestic policy and jobs.

KONDRACKE:  Just one historical note, was it your idea to invent the,  the, the history, the, the hero references in the gallery, I mean, bringing  in, bringing in heroes?

DEAVER:  Well, we did that.  And...

KONDRACKE:  Did you do it?

DEAVER:  Yes, sir.  And Tip O'Neill was furious about it.  He said,  "You're turning the Congress into a circus."  And every president since has  done it, and it's a wonderful sort of an exchange...

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST:  Yes.

DEAVER:  ... between a real person and the government.

BARNES:  Do you have any ideas who might be good heroes this time to  have in the balcony sitting near the first lady?  I can think of Rudy  Giuliani, perhaps Special Forces guy in uniform who'd been in Afghanistan.

DEAVER:  Could be, could be.  And, you know, these people are very  good at, at, at the visual and the picture.  I mean, they've gotten about  as good as it gets.  So I'm sure they'll have somebody.

BARNES:  Mike, you sounded earlier like you were suggesting that the  president spend more time on the war and the fight against terrorism, which  is the big-picture stuff, rather than on domestic issues.  Spend some time  on it, but more on the war.

DEAVER:  Well, I think so, because I think that's central to people  – what people are seeing on television.  And, you know, one of the reasons  why this president, this young president, has grown so much is because he  has clearly enunciated a policy, kept us up to date, reaffirmed over and  over and over again what he's going to do.

And I think we're going to wait to see, OK, where are we going next?   This is not, I feel your pain, this is, we have had a pain together and I'm  going to tell you how we're going to deal with it.

BARNES:  Mike, we remember how good the president was on September 20  speech to the nation...

DEAVER:  Superb.

BARNES:  ... and the Congress.  But here's a bite from the president,  oh, just several days ago.  Let me see what you think, and, and, and  comment on exactly why he's gotten so much better.  Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Our fight against terrorism began in Afghanistan.  But it's not  going to end there.  We still face a shadow enemy who dwells in the dark  corners of the earth.  Dangers and sacrifices lie ahead.  Yet America will  not rest.  We will not tire until every terrorist group of global reach has  been found, has been stopped, and has been defeated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARNES:  What's he doing that's so much better, other than leaning...

DEAVER:  Well, I think he's gotten...

BARNES:  ... on the, on the, on the podium?

DEAVER:  ... he's gotten confidence.  You know, I suppose some people  would think it's wacky, but I remember, I think, the exact moment when this  happened, and it was standing on that pile of rubber with his arm around  that fireman back a few days after the 9/11 attacks.  And it looked as if,  you know, that fireman was getting smaller and smaller and the president  was getting larger and larger.

And I think he has been filled with this purpose, and it's given him a  confidence that we didn't see at first.

KONDRACKE:  Mike, some Democrats are critical of the president, sort  of.  They're not coming out in public and saying this, but that he's sort  of prolonging this, this war talk, and sort of ha – spilling it over into  domestic policy and may – kind of making the case that if you're not with  me on domestic policy that you're somehow not quite patriotic.

I mean, is, is, is, is he doing any of that?

DEAVER:  Well, I, I, I haven't heard any of that.  I think – I would  doubt that.  But, you know, this still is a huge issue for the world, and,  and I don't think – I think one of the things about him that people like  is that he is dogged.  He is going to stay with this.  He's not going to  stay with this a little bit as long as the polls show it's profitable for  him to do it, but he's going to stay with it because he believes in it, and  that...

KONDRACKE:  Just one, just one last thing.  We, we've had three  speeches recently by Democratic presidential potential candidates, Tom  Daschle, Dick Gephardt, John Kerry.  I don't know if you've had a chance to  check them out, but what did you think in the early, early running?

DEAVER:  Well, I mean, it is early, as you say, and none of them  really, in the people's mind, have much stature.  I saw – stature.  I saw  a poll this morning that shows Gore is still the leading candidate among  Democrats for the, for the presidential nomination.

So we're going to see seven or eight of these guys struggling for a  while.

BARNES:  What would you say the odds are on Bush being reelected at  this point?

DEAVER:  Well, obviously at this point, he beats Gore by 30 points or  something like that.

BARNES:  Yes, pretty good.

Well, Mike, thank you very much.

DEAVER:  You bet.

Click here to order the complete transcript.

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