A Democratic Senator Voting for Bush

This is a partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, November 4, that has been edited for clarity.

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SEN. ZELL MILLER, D-Ga.: I have no intention of switching parties. I was born a Democrat. I have voted for every for every Democratic president who has run since 1952. But in 2004, I'm going to vote to re-elect George Bush (search). I just plain like the man. I think he is a good man. And I also like his politics.


BRIT HUME, HOST: He was a popular governor of Georgia, and has been a popular U.S. Senator. but he is not running for re-election, and now has written a book about the Democrats, entitled, A National Party No More. Zell Miller believes his party has gone left. And in effect, written off his home state of Georgia, and much of the rest of the South, as well. And he joins me here right now.

Welcome. Nice to have you, Senator.

MILLER: Thank you very much, Brit. Good to be with you.

HUME: Tell me, is it the case that the Democratic Party has moved and left like you where you were? Or is it that 9-11 moved the country, and you along with it, and the Democratic Party didn't move?

MILLER: I think both of those things are true. I think the Democratic Party had moved a lot, since the days of John F. Kennedy (search), when he could carry the state of Georgia, even bigger than he carried the state of Massachusetts, his home state. But I think 9-11 changed everything. I think it just changed this world forever.

HUME: And what about -- and what effect in the South from that, in particular?

MILLER: Well, the South has always been the most patriotic region in the United States. And since 9-11, I think that has been even enhanced. I think right now you find the South strongly supporting the president, and what he's trying to do. Strongly supporting where he is, as far as Iraq is concerned. They don't believe in cutting and running. They believe in standing their ground, keeping -- maintaining the course.

HUME: The Democratic Party, as I've known it, covering politics over the years, I just wondered if it is really the Democratic Party today is altogether really different from the party that nominated Walter Mondale (search) and Michael Dukakis (search), and even Bill Clinton (search). Do you believe it is?

MILLER: I believe that the special interest has even more cannibalized the party than they had back then. It has gotten now where the special interest, "the groups," as they are called, have taken this party so far to the left...

HUME: Which one's?

MILLER: Oh, the usual suspects...

HUME: The employ...

MILLER: ...especially the employee's unions. What they did with the Homeland Security bill, back in 2002, where they put collective bargaining ahead of national security and made the Senate vote on it 11 different times. I think it played a big role in defeating Max Cleland, and Jean Carnahan...

HUME: Your former Georgia colleagues...

MILLER: My former colleague in Georgia, a good friend, and Jean Carnahan. And then when we came back, you may remember after the general election, nothing was said about it anymore. It was just a complete pander to the federal employers, and state employees union.

HUME: Now, with those votes, that gave rise against your former Senate colleague, Max Cleland, that his judgment was poor, and that he put -- and that he was not standing up for national security. He has been very bitter about that, and felt that his patriotism was questioned. What do you think about that?

MILLER: Well, Max Cleland is a great man, and he's been a great warrior. And he was a very, very fine United States senator. But I think that the leadership of the party there, in the Senate, having that vote over and over made him vulnerable. He was leading in the polls, six or seven weeks before that, by about 54-55 percent. And then this gave a rise to use some of those campaign commercials that were used against him that helped defeat him.

HUME: I wonder, senator, if you -- if Democrats have shown skepticism toward you about this announcement you made. It was quite a striking announcement that you plan to vote for President Bush. Now, if you follow your thinking on these issues, and read your book, it's not a great surprise. But I wonder if people may think that that announcement, that you plan to vote for President Bush, was timed for the moment your book hit the bookstands? What about that?

MILLER: Well, you know, I didn't really think about that going into promoting the book. But I should have realized that one of the first questions I was going to get, and I got it from Sean Hannity, in my first interview I had, when he asked me who're you going to vote for? Well, I already knew, in the back of my mind, who I was going to vote for. And so, I had to answer it. But I had to -- I did not plan it that way. But I'm sure it kind of looks that way.

HUME: What do you think about the party's fortune's next year, as a - - I mean obviously, you've seen the direction, you've seen the candidates, you've spoken out about how you don't think any of them is up to the task. What do you think is going to happen?

MILLER: Well, I think if we continue down the same road that they're going in right now, that they're in for a terrible defeat. I mean when you take the worst feature of the Mondale campaign, raise taxes, and the worst feature of the McGovern campaign, peace at any price. That's a double feature that not many people are going to want to see again.

HUME: If you could direct the party in policy directions this coming year, the economy now appears to be coming back. Which may undermine that as an issue for the Democrats, which had been a good issue for the Democrats in recent elections. And you believe they're in the wrong place on the war. What do you run on?

MILLER: Well, it's too late for them to run on anything else right now because they've gotten themselves out there where, really, they're not running to be elected to be president right now. They're all running to get the nomination. And they know the way you get that nomination is to try to carry Iowa, where the caucuses are going to be dominated by your extreme liberal groups. And winning in New Hampshire. And if somebody and do one, or both of those things, then they're on their way to getting the nomination, and you can't stop them.

HUME: Senator, what -- some skeptics have suggested that this is an easier decision for you to make, and an easier book for you to publish, perhaps, as a senator who is retiring. And that perhaps, perhaps, there might be an opportunity in the second Bush administration for you. What do you say to that?

MILLER: Well, the reason I am retiring is because of my age. I'll be 72 whenever this next term ends. I'm ready to go back home. In fact, I had retired once, and had gone back home after serving two terms, as Georgia's governor. I had no idea of being in politics again. Until, Senator Coverdall, unfortunately died, and I was thrust back into politics. But no, I'm going back to Georgia.

HUME: Senator Miller, it's nice to have you here. Thank you.

MILLER: Thank you.

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