Terrorists Targeting President Bush?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," Oct. 19, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "The Big Story With John Gibson" weeknights at 5 p.m. ET!

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Surging violence in Iraq. Are the terrorists aiming at more than just the targets on the ground?

Russian President Vladimir Putin (search) believes there is a specific agenda behind Iraq violence right now. He says that terrorists in Iraq are using attacks to prevent President Bush from winning a second term.

Joining me now to discuss this are New York Congressman Charlie Rangel (search), and Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra (search).

So, Charlie, I'll go to you first. Of course they want regime change on George Bush. Does that surprise you?

CHARLIE RANGEL, U.S. CONGRESSMAN, NEW YORK: Well, I don't think the Russian Communist is an expert on terrorism, especially in view of what he faces in his own country.

GIBSON: Do you think he's wrong?

RANGEL: I haven't the slightest idea. I can tell you this: neither George Bush, you, or I know who these terrorists are. There are so many different types of terrorists, so many people who hate the United States, and most of them hate each other.

So to think that we should give thought about who they want for president is ridiculous.

GIBSON: But wait. Look at this, Congressman — both congressmen — here's some video that was released today of the bombings in Spain on 3/11, dramatic stuff. There are the people down there in the subway station. And then, boom, off goes the first one and then comes the second one.

There is a thought, Congressman Hoekstra that terrorists are going to try to do something like that here. They're going to try to do the kinds of attacks we've seen them do repeatedly in Iraq every day right up to the election, to force the American people to say enough, "Basta." We're done. We want to walk away."

So, do you think Americans will respond to that kind of pressure?

PETE HOEKSTRA, U.S. CONGRESSMAN, MICHIGAN: Well, the first thing is that terrorists are not going to force Americans to do anything. But there's no doubt that the terrorists do want regime change. They will use attacks in Iraq to ratchet up the attention on the war in Iraq, hopefully, getting that kind of result that Americans will vote for regime change.

They want George Bush out of office. They saw that when George Bush came into office in 2001, there was a new strategy in the war on terror. The Taliban were removed from power. Saddam Hussein was removed from power. We're attacking their bases in Pakistan. We're taking them out in Saudi, with our allies. We're going after them in Yemen.

They long for the days of the 1990's where they could repeatedly attack the United States and they knew that we would do nothing or very, very little.

GIBSON: Congressman Rangel, one of the arguments you've made is that George Bush has mismanaged this war so badly, it's helped the terrorists. By that line of thinking, they wouldn't want to replace him.

RANGEL: I never said it helped the terrorists at all. I think we're creating more terrorists than killing. But we really need more people with intelligence like Pete here, because he knows what's on the terrorists' minds. Where were you, Pete, when we really needed you?

My God, he's got this thing covered to such an extent that he knows just how they're going to...

GIBSON: Do you think he's wrong?

RANGEL: Pete hasn't the slightest clue what he's talking about.

GIBSON: Do you think he's wrong?

RANGEL: The CIA doesn't know what they're talking about.

GIBSON: But do you think he's wrong?

RANGEL: I have no idea what he's — how can he talk about what the terrorists are thinking? If I thought for one minute I knew what he was talking about, I'd bring him over to the house and say, "Hey, run the Intelligence Committee and let us know what they're thinking."

GIBSON: So you don't think we can make that assumption that they'd like to see George Bush gone?

RANGEL: I would like to see George Bush gone, and I don't think it has a darn thing to do with terrorists. As a matter of fact, I truly believe that there are people in this world that are not for or against Bush or want to get involved, but they think that we mishandled this darn thing.

Terrorists don't have just the United States as enemies. They've got enemies all over the world, and we have to bring these people together in a concentrated effort to get rid of them.

GIBSON: Congressman Hoekstra, I've got to let you respond to Charlie charging that you've got a crystal ball and that you're needed at the CIA.

HOEKSTRA: Well, Charlie — we're not going to go to Charlie's bill where he wants to reinstate the draft.

RANGEL: The Republicans brought it up, you know.

HOEKSTRA: This is a very, very complicated issue. It's a very complicated issue, but I mean, reasonable people will take a look at this, and reasonable people will reach the conclusion that terrorists want George Bush out of office.

RANGEL: And a vote for Kerry is a vote for terrorism.

HOEKSTRA: This has not been a good four years for the terrorists. Al Qaeda looks at their leadership from three and four years ago; 75 percent of those folks are no longer around running al Qaeda.

They look at where they were getting comfort from Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein is going on trial in Iraq.

GIBSON: Charlie, I give you the last word. Isn't what he said true?

RANGEL: Pete wouldn't know a terrorist if he saw one because as far as he's concerned, they all look alike, and I think he thinks they're all Democrats.

GIBSON: All right. I will leave it at that. Congressman Charlie Rangel and Congressman Pete Hoekstra, thanks very much. Appreciate it, both you guys.

Content and Programming Copyright 2004 Fox News Network, L.L.C. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2004 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, L.L.C.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.