Menu

Dem Campaign Heads on 'Fox News Sunday'

The following is an excerpt from FOX News Sunday, Jan. 11, 2004.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: So what's happened to Howard Dean, who has been riding so high for months now but, if you believe the polls, is suddenly in some sort of trouble here in Iowa? For answers, we turn to Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi.

And, Mr. Trippi, good morning. Good to have you with us.

JOE TRIPPI, DEAN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Great to be here, Chris.

WALLACE: I know that you felt this race was always going to tighten. But clearly something has happened in the last week. Did Governor Dean peak too early?

TRIPPI: Well, he got up there, emerged as the front-runner, and that drew a lot of hammering from the other candidates.

But we feel very, very good about what's going to happen tomorrow in Iowa. We've got a great organization here and a great grassroots campaign. Thirty five hundred people from around the country are knocking on 200,000 doors this weekend in Iowa. The governor's out there, going to be campaigning hard all the way up to the caucuses. So we feel good.

WALLACE: We're going to talk about the organization in a second, but it seems that as the voters have gotten to know Dean better that he's lost some support in these final days.

TRIPPI: Well, we don't see that in anything that we're looking at, and the polls are all over the place. We knew it was going to get tight; we've known that from the beginning.

But our message of changing Washington and taking on the lobbyists and special interests, and the campaign that's grassroots, hundreds of thousands of people around the country, is really strong in this state, we believe.

And like I said, the polls are all over the place. It's a tight race. But we think we can eke it out with our organization.

WALLACE: Let's talk about perceptions. After months of Dean being the front-runner, partially anointed — largely anointed by us, but also in all the polls, after all the magazine covers, why wouldn't a defeat tomorrow be a serious setback to him if he doesn't finish first?

TRIPPI: Because that's broadcast politics. That's just the way the press covers things. I mean, we're a campaign that really is different. This campaign is about power. It's about who owns our government and who runs it. And it's...

WALLACE: Yes, but elections are about who finishes first and second.

TRIPPI: Well, that's right, but we're not going to stop fighting to change the place just because we don't get a finish that the press is happy with. We're going to go on, and we're going to continue this campaign.

You know, there are 600,000 people across this country, and we're changing — they're changing politics by not letting — you know, this is a campaign that doesn't rely on special-interest money, doesn't rely on fat donors, just average Americans giving $70, $50.

And we totally — those people changed this race already by just putting Governor Dean where he is. It's not about Governor Dean; it's about them. It's about the American people taking charge of their democracy and getting involved again and getting rid of the special interests and the folks in Washington...

WALLACE: All right.

TRIPPI: ... who just don't do things the way we want.

WALLACE: Let's talk organization. You're counting on this army of new volunteers to, as you say, grow the electorate, bring in thousands of new voters.

How many points do you think that could mean in Dean's finish tomorrow night? How many points is that good for?

TRIPP: Oh, three, four points. There...

WALLACE: So, in other words, if he's at 20 percent in the polls, you think that you could raise that to 23 or 24 percent just by the sheer strength of his organization?

TRIPPI: At least. At least. There's 3,500 people that come from 48 states. I was out there walking precincts with them yesterday in Des Moines. These people have a lot of energy. They're going to meet 200,000 Iowans, 200,000 Iowans. It's probably double what may turn out here.

We think we can find — we know where the Dean supporters are. We're going to work on the undecideds. Probably going to work on talking to some of those Edwards, Kerry and Gephardt people and see if we can convince them and get them to the caucuses on Monday.

WALLACE: Has the media treated the governor fairly?

TRIPPI: I think there's always a period where everybody really tests the meddle of the person that's sort of moved to the forefront. We saw this with Bill Clinton, certainly, in 1991.

WALLACE: Well, that's what I'm asking. Beyond just the normal piling on the front-runner, do you think there's been something more at work here?

TRIPPI: Oh, yes, I definitely think there — I think we — you know, the establishment are a bunch of people who do things in the established way. And this campaign hasn't done anything the way you're supposed to do it or the established way. I think there's been some push-back on that.

But we're not going to — you know, people have written our obituary over and over again. I mean, from the very birth of the candidacy, we couldn't win. So having folks say that now, doesn't matter to any of us. We're going to keep fighting on.

TRIPPI: We're not saying here that, incidently, that you can't win. There are no obituaries here.

Couple of final questions: One, some people say that you're sending mixed messages. Here's Dean the outsider, but it seems that in the last few weeks, he's surrounded. Whether it's Al Gore or Tom Harkin or, today, Jimmy Carter, that he's being surrounded by the establishment.

Is that sending a mixed message?

TRIPPI: I don't think so. I mean, we are — like I said, the establishment are people who do things in the established, supposed- to-do-it-that-way way. We're doing things differently, and I think people like Al Gore and Bradley are saying, "Hey, there is a new way to build this party. There is a new way to make us stronger."

And when you literally look at that list, Jimmy Carter ran as a Washington outsider, was sort of an outsider, kind of anti- establishment president, if you will. And, you know, Al Gore and Bill Bradley aren't in Washington anymore. They've been out there for a while. And the only one on the list is Tom Harkin, and I don't believe even Iowans would look at Tom Harkin and think he's become part of the Washington establishment.

WALLACE: All right, my final two questions. How much sleep have you gotten in the last 48 hours?

(LAUGHTER)

TRIPPI: Almost none. For the last year, I've gotten almost none, but...

WALLACE: But, literally, the last 48 hours.

TRIPPI: Oh, probably two.

WALLACE: Really?

TRIPPI: Yes.

WALLACE: And how many diet sodas have you consumed in the last 48 hours?

(LAUGHTER)

TRIPPI: Three or four dozen, probably.

(LAUGHTER)

WALLACE: All right, well, you're making an endorsement deal out of this.

Joe Trippi, it's going to be quite a 36 hours ahead for you. Thank you so much for coming in.

TRIPPI: Thank you.

WALLACE: We appreciate it.

The hot candidate now seems to be Senator John Kerry. What message is he sending to Iowa voters in these final hours? And can he turn it into victory tomorrow? Well, joining us now is his campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill.

And, Ms. Cahill, good morning.

MARY BETH CAHILL, KERRY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Good morning.

WALLACE: Good to have you with us.

CAHILL: Thank you.

WALLACE: If the polls are accurate, voters are moving to Senator Kerry. But your organization is supposedly weaker here on the ground in Iowa than either Dean's or Gephardt's. Joe Trippi just talked about it possibly could gain him three or four points.

How much is yours going to cost you?

CAHILL: Our organization is actually a very good organization. And we've had wonderful endorsements. We have a lot of Iowans standing with us.

Basically what we have is an excellent message, where John Kerry has been travelling around Iowa converting people to his vision of what this country ought to be about. And Iowans are coming toward him as they understand how he wants to run the country.

WALLACE: Let's talk about why there seems to be this late movement toward Kerry, and let me throw out a couple of ideas. After hammering Dean for months, Kerry a few weeks ago started going positive. Make a difference?

CAHILL: It made a big difference. It made a big difference. And the tone of the campaign overall got quite negative.

John Kerry wanted to tell people why they should stand with him. He became more passionate, more focused. The voters responded, and the numbers started to move. And that has given us a wellspring of support across the state.

WALLACE: Another thing that people are talking about is electability. That's become a big issue. That people here, in the last few days, have begun to have doubts that Dean can actually beat George Bush and think that Kerry stands a better chance. Do you subscribe to that?

CAHILL: I think that that's the case. I very much subscribe to that. I think that when people particularly look at a long record on domestic policy, as well as a great comfort dealing with international and diplomatic issues, John Kerry is the person that people feel comfortable with.

WALLACE: Do you think that — because there has always been some doubt about whether voters actually would vote on the basis of electability, as opposed to issues. Do you think that they may be making a calculated decision, this is the one who can win?

CAHILL: I think this year Democratic primary voters really dislike the way they see the country going, and they are looking around to who has the best chance in November against George Bush. It's causing them to take a second look at all the candidates.

We know that this is a four-way race going into the Iowa caucuses. There are very strong organizations on the other side. Dick Gephardt has 95,000 labor-union members, and he's going to turn them all out. Joe just told you that they have 3,500 volunteers. They said today in the Boston Globe that they have 50,000 number-ones (ph) that they're going to bring to the polls. We know that.

We have a lot of enthusiasm on our side. We have a lot of Iowans. We have the most state senators. We have the governor's wife. We have veterans, 10,000 of whom are going to go to the caucuses.

We like the way it's going. But we understand exactly how hard it's going to be to get one of the three tickets out of Iowa.

WALLACE: All right. Even a week ago, you were lagging in the polls. Senator Kerry had to contribute $6.5 million of his own money to the campaign. I know you're going to say you never wavered, but didn't it look a little bleak there?

CAHILL: The way that John Kerry closes is the way that he has lived his life. When...

WALLACE: I know, this is spin, but what I'm asking...

(LAUGHTER)

CAHILL: Yes, it is spin.

WALLACE: It is spin, but I'm asking you, was there not a point where you thought to yourself, "Boy, this is not looking so good"?

CAHILL: You don't have a lot of choice. You have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going and try to make events work for you. And that's what we're doing.

And the more people focused in on this — you can't just walk away when things get tough. And John Kerry never considered it.

WALLACE: How much more money does the senator have?

CAHILL: The senator is a man of some means, and he is very interested in being in the presidency of the United States. It's a conversation we'll have going forward.

But the other thing is that a lot of Americans have already contributed to the campaign. And right now, a lot of people are calling us up, and they would like to contribute.

WALLACE: But prepared to say — because in the last quarter, you gave $6.5 million — he gave $6.5 million...

CAHILL: Yes.

WALLACE: ... and the rest of the country gave, I think, $2 million, $2.5 million. Prepared to say that the senator is prepared to contribute a great deal more to his campaign?

CAHILL: That's not a decision we have to make right now. We raised $28.5 million in the last year. That's a formidable amount of money. We have a lot of donors across the country. I think they're going to be very pleased with what they see in these early states.

And I don't rule anything out, but I don't know what we're going to do at this moment.

WALLACE: They talk about the "Iowa bounce." If the senator does well tomorrow night — maybe not win, but does well — what does that do for him going into New Hampshire, where he has been lagging?

CAHILL: He has been lagging. But today we a wonderful thing happen in New Hampshire, which is that the Concord Monitor endorsed John Kerry extremely strongly, saying that he was the person who was the most ready to be president of the United States.

I think that people in New Hampshire also are going to take a second look. Electability really concerns them; they don't want to throw their vote away. And they like the way this campaign is going. They like the way John Kerry is finishing.

WALLACE: All right. Same questions that I asked Joe Trippi: How much sleep have you had the last two days?

CAHILL: Not nearly as much as I need.

WALLACE: Have you had more than two hours?

CAHILL: You know, I don't think anybody really makes it on two hours, but not as much as I need. I'd like a lot more.

WALLACE: And how many diet sodas?

CAHILL: A lot more coffee than diet soda.

WALLACE: Coffee?

CAHILL: Coffee.

(LAUGHTER)

WALLACE: Well, maybe there's an endorsement deal there.

CAHILL: Exactly.

WALLACE: Mary Beth Cahill, thanks very much for coming in. We appreciate it.

CAHILL: Thank you very much.

WALLACE: Most analysts see Iowa as must-win for Dick Gephardt. His campaign manager, Steve Murphy, joins us now.

And, Mr. Murphy, good morning. I must say, I feel a little bit like a barber, and people keep coming into the chair here.

(LAUGHTER)

STEVEN MURPHY, GEPHARDT CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, it's good to be here.

WALLACE: Thank you. We'll keep the trim not too short.

All right. Your candidate's been saying all week that he is going to win Iowa — the only candidate who's saying that. You still believe that?

MURPHY: Absolutely. We're going to win on Monday night.

WALLACE: Fair to say that if Dick Gephardt from next-door Missouri does not win tomorrow night, that your campaign is dead?

MURPHY: We are totally confident of winning on Monday night. You know, the voters of Iowa, Democrats in Iowa, are responding to Dick Gephardt's message of fighting for the middle class. We've got to put our best candidate forward to beat George W. Bush. That's Dick Gephardt.

We have by far the strongest grassroots organization and the most loyal support. We've been holding steady in the polls. It's is a four-way dead heat. We're going to win.

WALLACE: OK, I understand all of that, but you didn't really answer my question, which is: If he doesn't, if that's the way the world turns tomorrow — and, at this point, he's lagging in the polls — he comes from Missouri, he won here in 1988, wouldn't that be curtains?

MURPHY: Chris, we're so confident of victory, we haven't even entertained that notion.

WALLACE: So you're not going to answer?

(LAUGHTER)

MURPHY: Exactly.

WALLACE: I keep hearing that, win or lose, that your campaign will be almost broke on Tuesday morning.

MURPHY: That's completely incorrect. You know, we have very strong campaigns in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Oklahoma. We're very well-funded to get through these early primaries and through the Michigan primary, which is going to be the critical one, determining the front-runner in this race. That's completely untrue.

WALLACE: So, how much money will you have in the bank Tuesday morning?

MURPHY: Oh, you know, we have several million dollars in the bank.

You know, both John Kerry and Howard Dean decided to opt out of the public-financing system. They're not taking the matching funds. We've been able to raise money steadily. We get the matching funds. We're going to be in great shape to go forward.

WALLACE: So, are you willing to say right here and now that regardless of what the results are on Monday night, that Dick Gephardt is going to stay in this race?

MURPHY: I'm willing to say we're going to win on Monday night.

WALLACE: So, you're not willing to say that he would not drop out this week?

MURPHY: We're going to win.

WALLACE: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

You have made your answer clear.

Let's talk about, maybe, one of the issues that's hurt Gephardt here in Iowa. There seems to be some feeling from some voters that we have talked to that Dick Gephardt has had his chance and that they want someone new to take on the president. Do you see that?

MURPHY: You know, Dick Gephardt has been very straightforward about this. If you want the flavor-of-the-month candidate, if you want somebody who says, "I need a map to find the White House," it's not Dick Gephardt.

But if you want somebody...

WALLACE: Yes, but wait a minute. I mean, John Kerry is not the flavor of the month, and he certainly doesn't need a map to find the White House. It's just that some people are saying Dick Gephardt, 1988, around Washington for a long time. I mean, there's a difference between being an outsider and being someone that some people say maybe has had his chance.

MURPHY: You know, Chris, those are the people who aren't for Dick Gephardt. We've got a real strong base of support here in Iowa, very well-organized, the working men and women of Iowa, senior citizens, farmers responding to Dick Gephardt's message. And they're going to turn out on Monday night, and we're going to win.

WALLACE: Was it a mistake to go so negative in this last week? Dick Gephardt ran this negative ad against Governor Dean, and your candidate called Dean, on the stump, a "fake with manufactured anger and false convictions."

MURPHY: You know, Dick Gephardt likes Howard Dean, but he doesn't like the way Howard Dean has run this campaign. Howard Dean has said, "I'm the real Democrat in the race." That's obviously not true.

He's criticized all the other candidates, saying they've never accomplished anything in Congress. That certainly is not the case for Dick Gephardt. Dick Gephardt broke the back of that Gingrich revolution. He passed the Clinton economic plan in 1993. He passed family medical leave.

So Dick, you know, there's a question here about the chasm between the rhetoric and record of Howard Dean.

So this is — and also, let me make one other point here. Howard Dean has attacked Dick Gephardt twice on the air. He did in November, and he did again earlier this week.

We never wanted to run a comparative ad on television. We wanted to finish the campaign on a positive note. But we weren't going to let Howard Dean tear down Dick Gephardt in the last week of the campaign without a response. When he took his negative ad off the air, we took our response off the air.

WALLACE: After all these months of work, is your candidate — are you prepared for whatever may happen on Monday night?

MURPHY: We've got a great plan to go forward after Monday night. After winning here, we expect to bounce into the first tier in New Hampshire, although that's a tough state for us.

Our real plan is to win more states and delegates on February 3rd than anybody else, and then use that momentum to go into Michigan on February 7th. We see that as the crucial primary.

WALLACE: But, I suppose at the risk of beating a dead horse, if it doesn't turn out that way, are you prepared for that, as well?

MURPHY: That is a dead horse, Chris. You're beating a dead horse.

WALLACE: No thoughts at all about that?

MURPHY We haven't even entertained the notion...

WALLACE: Can you allow thoughts of that? Or, at this point, do you just have to keep focused on...

MURPHY: We're so completely confident in the grassroots organization we have here, we just don't see any point in thinking about that.

WALLACE: And finally, where do you rank in the sleep and soda sweepstakes?

MURPHY: Well, I'm four or five years older than Joe Trippi...

WALLACE: Right.

MURPHY: ... so I try to get four or five hours of sleep a night.

WALLACE: And sodas?

MURPHY: You know, three months ago, I quit caffeine, because I didn't think I'd make it through the campaign if I didn't.

WALLACE: You are doing this entire campaign caffeine-free?

MURPHY: The last three months, yes.

WALLACE: Congratulations.

MURPHY: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

WALLACE: Steve Murphy, thank you for joining us this morning.

MURPHY: My pleasure.