This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, July 7, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
ANDREW NAPOLITANO, GUEST HOST: The Democrats don't have their eye just on the White House; they're trying to take back the Senate as well. John Edwards will be sent to campaign for Democratic candidates in all the tight races.
Joining me now to talk about the Edwards effect, Republican Senator George Allen of Virginia, the Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Jon Corzine, one of my senators from my home state of New Jersey, the Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign.
Senator Corzine, first question to you: Can John Edwards help you guys, the Democrats, pick up a couple of Senate seats?
JON CORZINE, DEMOCRATIC SENATOR OF NEW JERSEY: Well, I think he's going to be a very positive asset to the overall Democratic ticket. I certainly believe that he will help Erskine Bowls in North Carolina. I think he will have a positive impact in all of our races in the South. And in fact, I think because he will speak to a national message — energetic and enthusiastic national message. I think he's going to be an asset across the country in our Senate races.
NAPOLITANO: Senator Allen, does anybody really vote for president because of who's running with them for vice president?
GEORGE ALLEN, REPUBLICAN SENATOR OF VIRGINIA: Generally speaking, not. It did help, I suppose, to have Lyndon Johnson years ago. The reality is, though, as far as 2004, President Bush is going to carry the South, and the reason is his values, his principles are consistent with the views of the people in the South and the heartland of the country.
John might want to remember that the southerner was actually leading the ticket for the Democrats in 2000, and President Bush swept the South. And where you have close races or competitive races in the South, say North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, President Bush won all those states by over 10 percent. And then in states like South Dakota, Oklahoma, Alaska, President Bush won by over 20 percent.
And this very liberal-leading ticket, whether liberal for Massachusetts and then liberal for North Carolina, this is not a ticket that's going to sell with families and small business owners, either on taxes, national defense, or on values.
NAPOLITANO: All right. Senator Corzine, I mean you know it better than I the open seats: John Braugh in Louisiana; Bob Graham in Florida; Fritz Hollings in South Carolina; Don Nickles in Oklahoma; Zell Miller in Georgia; Senator Edwards' seat itself in North Carolina. President Bush is more popular in those states than Senator Edwards, isn't he?
CORZINE: Well, let's take a look at those one at a time.
First of all, in Louisiana the president was in Louisiana four times running against Mary Landreau in 2002 and she held her seat. There was a runoff...
NAPOLITANO: He carried it for himself.
CORZINE: He may have carried it, but he was not able to carry it for Mary Landreau. It is only because there are two Democrats in the race and only one Republican.
We feel confident about where we are in Louisiana; John Edwards will help there. The fact is that John Kerry is going to be competitive in Louisiana and Arkansas. He's going to be competitive now in North Carolina; it's in play. I think Erskine Bowles is actually going to move strongly ahead, he was already ahead before the Edwards announcement in North Carolina. Inez Tenenbaum is a very strong Independent southern woman who's going to speak to South Carolina's values and culture, and I think we're going to have a strong ticket across the South.
And, yes, you can cite those statistics that President Bush did well in 2000. That's before we got into a war that has no immediate end in sight; that we've lost a lot of people built on sort of, false premises; the economy in all of those states has suffered severely under President Bush. We've seen the textile industry go away. You know, there are all kinds of problems in the tobacco industry and I think John Edwards will speak to those, and so will the candidates and I think we'll do well in the South.
NAPOLITANO: Senator Allen, wasn't Senator Edwards himself, losing in the popularity polls in North Carolina when he decided to run for president, rather than for reelection? How is he going to help the Democrats there in his own home state?
ALLEN: Well, it's helped the Republicans, and Richard Burr's gotten so many calls and e-mails since this announcement in North Carolina. Richard Burr, when we were plotting this campaign, looked to knock out John Edwards, and that's why John Edwards, although he lost the Democrat nomination for president, did not seek reelection, because he realized that he was going to have a hard time getting reelected in North Carolina.
The reality is that all the Democrat candidates in the South and the heartland, whether that's Tom Daschle in South Dakota or others in these other states are going to have to answer. Do you agree with John Kerry and John Edwards that families ought not to get a tax break? Do you agree with their zero record, as far as the taxpayers and the NFIB, which are small- business issues? Do you agree with John Edwards and John Kerry who oppose the Laci Peterson law to protect mothers and their own unborn child from violence?
Issue after issue: partial birth abortion, that they oppose that prohibition on that gruesome late-term procedure. And so, whether it's taxes or whether it's this argument about President Bush's steady, strong resolve in the war on terrorism, taxes or values, on each of these issues I cannot imagine a Democratic candidate saying that they agree with, number one, the most liberal...
NAPOLITANO: Senator Allen, I want New Jersey to get a chance to jump in there.
Go ahead, Senator Corzine.
CORZINE: First of all, John Kerry and John Edwards are not talking about rolling back middle tax cuts. Child tax credit, the 10 percent bracket of the marriage penalty. No one is talking about...
ALLEN: They voted against it.
CORZINE: No they didn't. They voted for those amendments and then voted against the tax cut generally.
NAPOLITANO: I guess it depends on how you define — gentlemen — I guess it depends on how you define the middle class. Kerry and Edwards want to tax everybody that makes more than $200,000 a year. There's a lot of Democrats that make more than $200,000 a year.
CORZINE: Listen, there are a lot of things that people want to spend federal dollars on like defending our troops on the ground in Iraq, making sure they have the proper equipment...
ALLEN: Then why did they vote against that funding?
CORZINE: Hold it.
No, no, they wanted to make sure it was paid for, just like the Democrats want to do consistently in Congress. We don't want to run up $5 trillion deficits, take $5 trillion surpluses and turn them into $5 trillion deficits, so the Bush administration, the Republican congress has had, and that's a value that I think the people in the South and all across the country understand: that if you're going to put debt burdens on your kids you're actually robbing from the future to pay for what we have today.