This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, June 28, 2002, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.
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JOHN GIBSON, HOST: As President Bush leads the country in the war on terror, it seems like such a long time ago that the president squeaked by Al Gore in that 2000 election. Gore's been keeping a low profile, but now the bearded ex-vice president is showing signs he could be testing the waters for a rematch.
Joining me now from Washington is Jack Quinn. He served as Vice President Gore's chief of staff, and was also White House counsel to President Clinton from 1995 to 1997.
JACK QUINN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Good to be with you.
GIBSON: Gore has summoned a team of advisers to Tennessee for some kind of Gore summit. Considering how close he came to being president, do the Democrats owe him another shot at the nomination?
QUINN: No, I don't think the party owes him another shot. Having said that, he has a great career of public service behind him. He did an extraordinarily terrific job as vice president. I'm sure he would be a formidable candidate.
At the same time, I think we're going to have a spirited contest for the nomination involving at least a half a dozen really very fine candidates.
GIBSON: You know, you mentioned that. I was going to phrase it a different way than spirited, but that's a good one. There's a lot of people that want the nomination that Al Gore had, and… everybody's trying to line up the so-called early money. Is this where the nomination essentially gets sewed up, this period of time, still so far away from the first primaries?
QUINN: I don't think it will be sewn up, but as you know… presidential politics, presidential campaigns are very, very expensive. Money is terribly important.
In our lifetimes, more often than not, the candidate with the resources to stay in the race the longest has emerged as the nominee. So money is terribly important.
And I think one of the things you're seeing here is, again, a half-dozen or so candidates demonstrating to the party that they're capable of putting together the resources to run a campaign that will take them the whole distance.
GIBSON: …The people that contribute big money and have a choice now to put their money with Al Gore or John Kerry or Joe Lieberman or Senator Edwards — where is it going?
QUINN: I don't think we know that yet, but I have the feeling that all of the people you identified and others will have more than enough resources to run very good campaigns for the presidency in 2004.
… President Bush's approval rating on the economy, Social Security, energy, tax policy is dipping way below 50 percent, and so, as these candidacies are more credible, they will attract the resources to run what, I think, will be formidable campaigns.
GIBSON: You know, this [Gore] summit… a lot of press people would like to be in it, and they're being held away. So Vice President Gore gets very frank advice and, if you will, criticism from the people that are advising him. If you were a fly on the wall in that room, what do you think you would expect to hear?
QUINN: I think that most of the people who will travel across the country to spend the weekend thinking through with him what a campaign would look like, how to articulate a democratic alternative to what we think are the policies of the Bush administration… that many more people will be encouraging to him and very positive about his prospects than might be cautionary or negative.
GIBSON: What about advice? I mean, we saw, for instance, a guy that sort of changed his skin a few times. He would be one thing. Then he'd be another. A lot of it was purely cosmetic. Do you think that period of Al Gore's life is over, like he knows who he is now?
QUINN: Well, look, I think that there were a lot of mistakes made in the last campaign. I was among the people who were disappointed that he didn't focus as much as he should have on the successes of eight years of the Clinton presidency, and I think people will talk candidly with him about that.
It's important that we remind the country that we had Bush economics before the Clinton presidency. They really left the country in a bad way. Then we had eight years of the greatest economic expansion in the history of the country. And now, once again, we're back to Bush economics and the false promise of being able to cut taxes, increase military spending and balance the budget.
We've lost all hope of fiscal discipline, and...
GIBSON: We do have a war on.
QUINN: Of course we do. But we have taken some steps here during this administration that people warned would put us in very real jeopardy in terms of the vibrancy and health and ability to continue to grow our economy, and those warnings are now haunting us.
GIBSON: We shall see how that turns out, and...
QUINN: You bet.
GIBSON: I hope, Jack Quinn, you'll come back as this progresses because I'd like to hear what you have to say as the picture develops.
QUINN: I'd love to do that.
GIBSON: All right. Thanks a lot.
QUINN: Thank you.
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