This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, January 10, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.
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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Mort, as you might expect, the hot story, the hottest of hot stories, is Dean's distress, Howard Dean. He is under attack. Not only is he under attack for the big tax increase he's proposing, not only is he under attack for his clumsy talk about religion, not only is he under attack because he said capturing Saddam Hussein (search) did not make America more secure, he's hurting in poll numbers.
Look at this one, where in Iowa, and, of course, the caucuses are on the 19th of January, where Gephardt is only 4 points behind. That is real striking distance in Iowa.
And on top of all these, there's something new here at -- now that the scrutiny machine in the press is after Dean, it's turned up in 2000 what he really thought back then, at any rate, about the Iowa caucuses.
Here's what he said in an NBC interview. He said, "If you look at the caucus system," meaning in Iowa, "they are dominated by special interests in both sides, in both parties. The special interests don't represent the centrist tendencies of the American people, they represent the extremes."
Now, obviously, the other candidates, starting with Joe Lieberman (search) and then John Kerry (search), have jumped all over this. And the truth is, when you see Carl Cameron's interview in just a second, with Howard Dean, you'll see Dean is rattled. Watch this interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was talking four years ago. If I had known then what I knew now about Iowa caucuses (search), you know, Iowa's been very good to me. And I couldn't run for president if I weren't -- if I didn't have Iowa.
CARL CAMERON, FOX CORRESPONDENT: So are you retracting...
DEAN: Iowa's a great...
CAMERON: ... those statements, sir?
DEAN: Iowa's a great place for people like me who have -- didn't -- started out with no money, and now have a good message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: Oh, I love that interview ... you notice he didn't make any eye contact with Carl. He did not want to be interviewed there.
By the way, it's not NBC, it was a Canadian television interview in which he said this stuff in 2000.
Well, Dean, of course, is responding to all his rivals in the Democratic campaign with an ad attacking them. Watch this ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DEAN CAMPAIGN AD)
ANNOUNCER: When some Democrats were supporting the war and defending Bush tax cuts, one candidate for president stood up to George Bush. Howard Dean opposed the war. He'll repeal the Bush tax cuts to provide health insurance for every American and take on the corporate special interests in Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: Now, Mort, if you think Howard Dean's a little too far to the left, as I do, and I think you do too, you might like this ad by the Club for Growth (search), which is a conservative group.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CLUB FOR GROWTH AD)
ANNOUNCER: What do you think of Howard Dean's ... to raise taxes on families by $1,900 a year?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do I think? Well, I think Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont where it belongs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: Now, those were just a couple of people there...
MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Body-bouncing? Body-piercing, that's a little extreme, I think.
BARNES: Well, it was just a couple of people they found on the street.
KONDRACKE: Yeah, right.
BARNES: ... just happened across them.
Well, there was one piece of good news, which I know you'll skyrocket about, you'll think it's so important, that was the endorsement of Dean by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin (search). I know you always think these endorsements are so important, I'm not so sure.
KONDRACKE: Well, I think Tom Harkin is a major triumph for Dean, and it comes after this embarrassing thing that he ... said about the caucuses. And I think that Harkin trumps that blast from the past.
BARNES: You do?
KONDRACKE: I do.
KONDRACKE: Yes. Now, the other, the other big development on the Democratic side is the Clark surge in New Hampshire. In just this month, Clark, as you can see, has moved from third place to a strong second place. I mean, he's still 15 points behind Dean. But, he's well ahead of Kerry.
Now, this is clearly bad news for Kerry, who has got to win New Hampshire or else he's out, but it's also ought to be worrisome to Dean, because, you know, anything can happen in New Hampshire.
KONDRACKE: And especially if Dean doesn't win in Iowa...
KONDRACKE: ... and Gephardt catches him in Iowa, Clark could easily catch him in New Hampshire, and then Dean, the juggernaut, has been stopped, which is also worrisome to some Republican friends of ours...
KONDRACKE: ... including Bill McInturff, the pollster, who says, who is begging Dean in public, Please, Dean, start running some hard ads against Clark in New Hampshire, because McInturff is worried that if Clark is the nominee, that you have a general from the South...
KONDRACKE: ... from Arkansas, which is harder for Bush to beat, than a Vermont liberal who favors ... you know, civil unions.
BARNES: But McInturff is a great pollster, but he is a worrier. He does worry too much.
KONDRACKE: OK. Well, the other hot story is Bush's hot numbers. You know, everything is going well for Bush on the public numbers. According to this week's Gallup poll (search), Bush's approval rating is at 60 percent, 55 percent are satisfied with the way things are going in the United States, and Bush beats Dean by 20 points in a head-to-head contest.
Now, in addition to that, we have the stock market, which is up 20 percent...
KONDRACKE: ... although there were pitiful job creation numbers, which are not good for Bush, only 1,000 jobs created last month, new jobs. That, isn't good. But generally speaking, the economic numbers are good.
And less well known are some, are some numbers that come from the Bush campaign. They've raised $130.8 million in 2003...
BARNES: Yes, yes.
KONDRACKE: ... $99 million cash on hand. They, they have 6 million activists signed up...
KONDRACKE: ... on the Internet, they have trained 5,500 precinct workers, and they're on their way to 10,000 by the end of the month. They're going to try to register 3 million new GOP voters. You know, Bush, all the numbers suggest that Bush is headed for a landslide.
But the Bush campaign and Bush himself ... are acting as though ... they're running scared.
BARNES: Yes, they are. But think of this, Mort. Bush's numbers are really spectacular. And yet, he hasn't started to campaign yet. He, he's gone out at fundraisers, but he hasn't campaigned. There've been no ads. There was one dumb little RNC ad that wasn't on very many places.
And he really hasn't deployed all his troops. In fact, the Bush campaign, which will come on with a big bang sometime here in winter or spring, really hasn't begun yet. And yet the numbers are awfully good for Bush.
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