Transcript: Joseph Lieberman on 'FOX News Sunday'

The following is a transcribed excerpt from FOX News Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003.

TONY SNOW, FOX NEWS: President Bush's Thanksgiving Day trip certainly has become the talk of Washington and just about everywhere else. Joining us from Charleston, South Carolina, with his thoughts about the trip and much more, Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.

Senator, welcome.

First, I want to start by reading a quote that Hillary Rodham Clinton gave when she was giving a radio interview in Kuwait the other day. It has to do with the situation ongoing in Iraq. Here it is.

She said, "We have to exert all of our efforts military, but the outcome is not assured." Do you believe the outcome is not assured in Iraq?

U.S. SENATOR JOSEPH LIEBERMAN, D-CT: The outcome has to be assured in Iraq. And we have to do everything we can to make sure it is assured.

We are fighting not just to make sure that the victory that our military won over Saddam Hussein results in a stable, modernizing Iraq, but that we defeat the terrorists who have now joined with Saddam Hussein's loyalists there in Iraq to fight us, and, of course, they're killing Americans and Spaniards and Italians and Japanese and the United Nations and everybody else at an alarming rate.

This has now become a great battle, not only to secure the victory out military won in Iraq, but to win a victory over the terrorists, because if we don't, they will be emboldened, and we will pay for it in the future.

We will win it. We must do everything necessary to support our troops, to rebuild Iraq. We will win it.

SNOW: So you believe Senator Clinton was wrong?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I mean, in the sense — in the most technical sense that we're in a war now in which, in the last month, we have lost more American soldiers than we have in any other month since the actual war began, and the insurgents have spread their attacks on us beyond the so-called Sunni triangle in the center of the country to a lot of the rest of the country, we're in a battle. But, what I'm — so, in a technical sense, victory is not assured.

But I will say this: There is no substitute for victory here. We must pull together across party lines, here in the United States. And we have to pull together with the rest of the world, in a way that President Bush has not been able to accomplish yet, to convince them that victory in the conflict we're in in Iraq now matters as much to them in the civilized world as it does to the United States of America.

This is a battle to stop Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein and every other enemy of freedom and modernity from turning the beginning of the 21st century into what is truly unbelievable, which would be a global religious war. We can't let that happen, and this is where we're going to stop it.

SNOW: A global religious war? You believe this may be a war of Islam versus Christianity and Judaism combined?

LIEBERMAN: Islam against — fanatical Islam against Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, every other "ism," every other religion, including every part of Islam that doesn't agree with these fanatics. And we cannot let that happen, and it's within our power to stop it.

It is clear — and this is not imagining anything; you've just got to read and listen to what Usama bin Laden and the rest of these extremists and terrorists are saying — that that is what they desire.

But it is unbelievable to think about it in the 21st century, with modern telecommunication, science, medicine, that we could be plunged back into a primitive religious conflict. But unless we defeat these extremists and create bridges to the rest of the Islamic world to show what American values are all about and help them live a better life, that may happen.

Iraq is the testing ground, and that's why we've got to make sure that victory is assured.

SNOW: Do you believe that some of our Muslim allies — Saudi Arabia and others — are afraid to take on these fanatics?

LIEBERMAN: Well, they've been afraid in the years in the past. I mean, they — I think some of them thought that they could somehow accommodate themselves to the fanatics and the fanatics would leave them alone, even though they were not fanatics themselves, a lot of them.

But, you know, this is a classic case, if you try to ride the back of this tiger, you're going to get swallowed.

Too much money to support extreme fanaticism of the Islamic variety came out of Saudi Arabia. We've told Saudi Arabia that's got to stop. And it's got to stop to protect our security, and if they want our alliance to continue, I believe they're getting it. I believe they're getting it because they've been attacked now, two or three times this year, in a devastating way.

And they've got to modernize. They've got to open up their political system and their economic system. Because unless the average Muslim on the street is living a better life, a freer life, the danger is, in Iraq and everywhere else, they're going turn to the crazies, to the extremists. And we cannot let that happen.

SNOW: Senator, you mentioned before, international cooperation. You say the president hasn't persuaded anybody.

We've been through, what, 17, 18 United Nations resolutions. Colin Powell has tried as energetically as he possibly could have to get international support.

Suppose you're president — and I've asked this to a lot of Democratic candidates, and I keep getting a run-around. They simply say that they'd be more persuasive. What do you do to get the Europeans on board?

LIEBERMAN: Well, the first thing you do, without going too far back, is that you wouldn't follow the one-sided foreign policy that the Bush administration has followed before we got to the conflict in Iraq.

And what does that mean? Get back into the international effort to do something about global warming. Get back into the effort to control arms. Be more supportive of NATO. I mean, that's the context in which a lot of these countries pull back from the Bush administration, and the administration lost its moral authority with them.

SNOW: Senator, let me ask you, did you not vote against the Kyoto Protocol when it was on Capitol Hill? Not a single senator voted for it, and furthermore, Kyoto's dead. The Russians backed out of it.

LIEBERMAN: Yes, I know the vote you're talking about. That was a kind of a sentiment vote about what we hoped would come out of Kyoto. But I was at Kyoto, I supported Kyoto.

And most of all, what I'm saying is, don't underestimate the president's effect of the withdrawal from the international effort, Kyoto or otherwise, to deal with global warming had on our relations with the rest of the world.

But you know what? That's history. Now we're here. And what I'd like to see is — what I would do as commander in chief is go to the rest of the world and say exactly what I said to you a few moments ago, Tony, which is that, "Don't think that these extremists, the fanatical Islamic terrorists, are only targeting us. They hate the rest of the world. And unless we wake up early and defeat them, it's not just our children and grandchildren who will be endangered, it's children and grandchildren almost everywhere in the world."

And I think that we need their help to rebuild Iraq, to get the Iraqis in control of their own destiny. And we need to give our military every ounce of help, every bit of help they need to regain the initiative against the terrorists.

SNOW: You think they've lost it?


LIEBERMAN: Well, the sad fact is that we have lost more Americans in the last month than in any other month of the conflict. And we need to — it would be great to get Iraqis to be fighting by our side. We ought to have NATO with us. That doesn't seem to be in the offing. So we've got to give our military a different kind of troops — special operations, intelligence, security personnel — to help them regain the initiative until some international help comes our way.

SNOW: Senator, do you think that the president's trip on Thanksgiving helped?

LIEBERMAN: I do. I thought it was exactly the right thing to do, the right place for the commander in chief to be. First, obviously, to thank the men and women who are there for us and separated from their families. And secondly, I thought the president said two important things in his remarks that hopefully were heard by the Iraqi people and by the insurgents, the enemies who are fighting us.

One, he said Saddam Hussein and his regime are gone forever. And, two, we are going to stay here until this country is stabilized. And now we've got to back that up with plans and policies that make that real. We have to have a success strategy, a victory strategy for Iraq.

But I thought it was a good trip and the right thing to do.

SNOW: Senator, Howard Dean, one of your competitors on the Democratic side, does not agree. His press spokesman got out and said, "Well, we wouldn't have sent him in the first place."

But let me ask you, do you think that Howard Dean could beat George W. Bush?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I think I can beat George W. Bush. That's why I'm running, and I've said that throughout. And I think so because the only — the kinds of candidates that win American elections are those who are center-out, independent-minded, moderate. That's me, in this Democratic field.

SNOW: But...

LIEBERMAN: Strong on security in an age of insecurity, pro- growth, pro-jobs economic, strong on values, and a record of social progress and fighting for social justice that is very different from what the Bush administration has done.

SNOW: Senator...

LIEBERMAN: So I think I'm the candidate. Go ahead, Tony.

SNOW: Senator, let me ask you a question that I hear a lot of people ask, because you rate relatively high in the national polls, people know you, but the numbers don't seem to be there so far in some of the early primary states. What happened?

LIEBERMAN: It's early. And I feel good about where we are. This is really an undecided election. I mean, the guy who wins most of the polls is a guy named "undecided."

We're focused on New Hampshire now, as the post where I'm starting. We're doing really well there. I was endorsed by almost 50 independents who voted for John McCain and supported him in 2000. And that's a real good sign.

And I appreciate the fact that they said, like John, they believe I'm going to do what's right for our country regardless of whether it's politically easy, I'm independent-minded, and I'm not afraid to work across party lines to get something done.

SNOW: Senator?

LIEBERMAN: Yes, go ahead.

SNOW: Let me jump in. One of the causes that John McCain holds dear is campaign finance reform. On the Democratic side, you've got a fellow named George Soros, who's spending tens of millions of dollars to beat George W. Bush. Would you like him to stop doing that?

LIEBERMAN: Well, that's up to the Federal Elections Commissions and the law enforcers. I mean, look — and it's got to be done on both sides.

I'm real disappointed that not only George Bush has broken out of the campaign finance law, but Howard Dean and John Kerry have too. And the result of that is that money's going to have too large an influence on politics.

We ought to be real careful that large donations — which was what McCain-Feingold, which I supported, was all about — don't come seeping like water, finding a vulnerable place...

SNOW: So, as a matter of principle, you don't like the kind of activity George Soros is doing on the campaign finance side?

LIEBERMAN: Or that the Bush campaign...


LIEBERMAN: ... is doing or that Republicans are planning to do with independent expenditures, as well.

SNOW: All right.

LIEBERMAN: But in the end, the voters are going to be heard, notwithstanding how much money anybody spends. And I think the voters want a fresh start, and I'm the one who offers that to them.

SNOW: Final George Soros question. This is a man who's made his fortune by bringing down currencies and making a lot of money trading on it. Now there is word that he and Warren Buffett, another Democratic billionaire, are busy betting against the dollar on European markets.

Do you worry that that could weaken our economy?

LIEBERMAN: I don't really know anything about that, but obviously currency and its effect on us is serious. And a cheap- dollar policy ultimately is not in our long-term interest. It gives us a short-term lift.

The thing that we really should be worried about in currency is the way the Chinese and some of the other Asian economies are fixing their currency to ours, which is a kind of game they're playing that gives their manufactured goods a big price advantage on ours.

So we've got to watch international currency trading and manipulation for its effect on us.

And I'd like to see something that we haven't seen in this country among a lot of people, and that is economic patriotism. Let's have some commitment to do what's right for the American economy, for American workers, for American businesses. That's something the law can't require, but any American who cares about our country ought to be supporting.

SNOW: All right. Senator Joseph Lieberman, as always, thanks for joining us.

LIEBERMAN: Tony, I know this is your last show the Fox Sunday morning, and I want to thank you for the great job you've done. And I have sent over a little going-away gift, and I think they may be presenting it to you now.


SNOW: It's a boxing glove. "For Tony, you hit hard, but always fair and balanced. God bless you, Joe Lieberman."

LIEBERMAN: Always fair and balanced, and...

SNOW: Thank you so much.

LIEBERMAN: Thanks, pal. God bless you, and good luck in your next chapter.

SNOW: God bless you too. Talk to you soon.