Transcript: Senators Corzine, Allen on FOX

The following is a transcribed excerpt of "Fox News Sunday" for October 24, 2004.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: While much of the focus election night will be on the presidential race, we'll also be watching closely what happens to the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

Here's the map. Currently, the Senate has 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats and 1 independent who usually votes with the Democrats. So the Democrats need a net pick-up of 1 or 2 seats, depending on who's elected vice president and gets to break any ties in the Senate.

To examine the key races, we're joined now by the chairmen of the Senate campaign committees, Democrat Jon Corzine, who's in Florida today, and Republican George Allen, who joins us here in the studio.

And, Senators, thanks for coming in. Good to have you with us.

ALLEN: Great to be with you.

CORZINE: Thanks, Chris.

WALLACE: Let's begin with an overview. Most observers, outside observers, say that there are nine Senate seats still up for grabs, and let's take a look at those races.

The five endangered seats now held by Democrats: South Dakota, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida. The four endangered seats now held by Republicans: Alaska, Colorado, Kentucky and Oklahoma.

Senator Corzine, given the fact that seven of those states are almost certainly going to go for George W. Bush in the presidential race, are almost certainly going to be red states, won't you have a tall order on Election Day?

CORZINE: Well, it's a bit of a handicap, but the fact is that, in each of those states, we have candidates who have run statewide. Tony Knowles in Alaska has won two terms as a governor. Tom Daschle has won three terms as a senator in South Dakota. Inez Tenenbaum has been the superintendent of education.

People know these folks. There's a history of ticket splitting. And we feel very comfortable that we have candidates that are mainstream and moderate, to fit the populations.

We've got the issues on our side. People don't want privatization of Social Security, think we're on the wrong track in Iraq, and they want to make sure that there are checks and balances in Washington.

So, I think we've got a very good case in each one of those states, and I think we're going to be very strong. We're going to go against that red tide.

WALLACE: Now, wait a minute there, Senator. You said that they want checks and balances. That seems to assume that the president is going to win the White House.

CORZINE: No, no. I think, when they go in and vote in their particular states — it's not claiming that at all, but when they go in and vote in those states, they're presuming, in most of those states, President Bush will win by 10 points, give or take a little. But the fact is, is that they want different ideas and checks and balances in how government works.

WALLACE: All right. Let me bring in Senator Allen here.

How much are you counting on President Bush's coattails to help you win in those seven red states?

ALLEN: Well, I think that President Bush heading our ticket is a big plus. Our team's running on similar ideas, a philosophy of government, of less taxation, less litigation, more in voicing of innovation, energy, independence, quality education.

And when you get to the issue of obstructionism, which has — or filibustering, which is a checks and balances, so to speak, people are going to be going in, voting for President Bush and Richard Burr in North Carolina, for President Bush and Jim DeMint in South Carolina, and in South Dakota I think also for John Thune, rather than the chief obstructionist, Tom Daschle, in South Dakota.

Because people see that the president has ideas, the Republicans have ideas of free enterprise, greater competition, greater security for our country, beating the terrorists, not managing terrorism but preventing it.

And I think that it would be so logical in the mind of any voter to say, "I want President Bush as a leader, and I'd like to have someone in the Senate who's actually going to support him, work with him, rather than against him." And we see the obstruction in the Senate every single day on important issues.

WALLACE: All right. Let's look...

CORZINE: Chris...

WALLACE: Excuse me just for a second, Senator. Let's look at a few of the specific key races, and you can make your point then, Senator Corzine.

In South Dakota, you have the Senate minority leader, as you mention, Tom Daschle, who's locked in a real battle with former Congressman John Thune. Now, no Senate leader has lost re-election since 1952, but the latest poll shows Daschle with just a two-point lead.

Senator, let me ask you about that. Are you going to be able to knock off Tom Daschle? And how do you beat his argument that, forget the politics, he can bring home the bacon, he can bring home projects and money to the small state of South Dakota?

ALLEN: The people of South Dakota want a senator who, at a very minimum, will actually be honest with them, and when they say something in South Dakota, that's the way they ought to act in Washington, D.C.

When John Thune knocks off Tom Daschle, they'll have a senator who will not only keep his word but also be one who, I guarantee you, will be embraced by the Republicans. And when John Thune wants something for South Dakota, folks are going to listen.

And I think that — Tom Daschle, by the way, showing the duplicity of his campaign, it's the most deceptive ad of the whole campaign. Actually has an ad hugging President Bush, trying to fool the people of South Dakota, who will not be fooled and realize they need a positive change for them in Washington.

WALLACE: Senator Corzine, I was going to ask you about that, and more specifically, when Senator Allen talked about the embrace, Senator Daschle has been running that ad that shows him and the president embracing after a speech that the president made to a joint session. And yet, when he goes back to Washington, he often, almost always votes against the president.

Can he...


CORZINE: First of all, that's not really true, Chris. Leave No Child Behind was led in a bipartisan way by Tom Daschle when he was actually the majority leader. We voted for the use of force in Afghanistan, almost overwhelmingly — the Patriot Act.

The leadership of Tom Daschle to make sure that our country is secure is unquestioned, and the cooperation that he has shown is unquestioned.

The fact is we've confirmed 180 judges, and only six have been turned down.

The fact is that Tom Daschle does embrace the president when it is appropriate and stands to challenge him when they're passing legislation that doesn't make sense for America. And that's what the American people want.

You know, the Republicans own Washington. They have the White House, they have the House of Representatives, and they have the United States Senate. So when they don't pass a transportation bill or they don't pass seven or eight of the appropriations bill, it's not Tom Daschle's fault. It's the Republicans can't get their act together.

And that's why we need a change. That's why the people in this country believe we're on the wrong track in every poll that I see.

WALLACE: All right, gentlemen, I don't want to turn this into the South Dakota race, because there are other Senate races. Let's talk about at least another one. And that's the state...

ALLEN: Well...

WALLACE: Very briefly.

ALLEN: All right. Very briefly, everyone knows that the Democrats, led by Tom Daschle, on judges, on litigation reform, whether it's asbestos, whether it's class action, whether it's medical liability, stops it.

And Tom Daschle is trying to recreate himself in the midst of this election. He says he's pro-life but ends up writing letters for the National Abortion Rights League. This is the sort of duplicity that I don't think the people of South Dakota are going to want to put up with. And they have a positive choice in John Thune.

CORZINE: The people of South Dakota know Tom Daschle.

ALLEN: Yes, they are getting to know him.


WALLACE: Let's move on to Florida, where there's another very tight race. This involves Mel Martinez, who was the former secretary of housing and urban development for President Bush, and he's running against Betty Castor, former president of the University of South Florida.

One of the big issues here is a fellow named Sammy Al-Arian, a former professor at USF, the school that Betty Castor used to lead, who has been charged with links to terrorist groups. And it has sparked quite a back-and-forth over the TV airwaves. Let's take a look at that.


(UNKNOWN): When I was a special agent with the federal INS, I launched a criminal investigation into the terrorist activity at the University of South Florida. As university president, Betty Castor's lack of strong leadership allowed a dangerous situation to get worse.



ANNOUNCER: Martinez said it was irrelevant that Bush campaigned with a suspected terrorist. And when Al-Arian attended a White House meeting, Martinez said it made no difference.


WALLACE: Senator Corzine, briefly because we're beginning to run out of time, this has been one nasty campaign.

CORZINE: Absolutely. Mel Martinez has run a very angry, distorted campaign about the facts. When you're president of a university, someone has tenure, and there are no charges, no legal charges, you can't just fire somebody. You can suspend them, which was done, but you can't fire them.

And by the way, the person that was talked about, the fact was they were invited to the White House, they were part of the 2000 campaign for President Bush.

And it's just a diversion away from talking about their plans. Mel Martinez supports the president on privatization of Social Security. That's a real issue for the people of Florida, not this issue of whether she should've fired somebody when she didn't have the chance.

ALLEN: None of our candidates are for privatizing Social Security. They want to make sure that people have additional options, have a good nest egg when they retire.

Here's how this whole issue came up. Betty Castor brought up this issue in an ad, talking about what a great job she had done. It is not just Al-Arian. There was a terrorist sale there. For example, on her watch, a person named Ramadan Abdullah Shalab (ph) got hired on there as a professor. 1995, he shows up in Syria's head of the Islamic Jihad.

And as far as firing people, once Betty Castor was no longer president, they were able to fire him, rather than keep Al-Arian on paid leave.

CORZINE: That's because he was indicted, George.

ALLEN: The reality is, is Mel Martinez is a modern-day Horatio Alger story, coming over to this country from Castro's Cuba at the age of 15, living with foster families. He is one who is motivating folks in Florida. He's going to have Republican support. He's going to get Hispanic support. And he's going to be a great United States senator.

WALLACE: Gentlemen, we have less than a minute left. I want to ask you each — and I'll start with you right here in the studio with us, Senator Allen — the count, as we said at the beginning, is now 51-49, or 48 plus one independent, in the Senate.

On election night, after it's all over and the dust clears, what will the count be? And give me your upset special, one of the races we haven't talked about.

ALLEN: Well, I think we have a great opportunity to pick up three seats. And I do understand Louisiana will probably run into overtime with that.

As far as upset special, a lot of folks...

WALLACE: So a net three? You're going to end up with 54?

ALLEN: Yes, sir. I think we have a great opportunity with our candidates.

WALLACE: And your upset special?

ALLEN: Well, a lot of people will say Washington, but George Nethercutt has been running such an aggressive campaign, I would give it to Wisconsin, with Army Ranger Tim Michael (ph), a former military person, job creator versus a tax hiker.

WALLACE: Beating Russ Feingold, the incumbent.

ALLEN: Yes. And President Bush is running well in Wisconsin, and he also knows the Packers play at Lambeaux Field.


WALLACE: Spoken by the son (ph) of George Allen.

And, Senator Corzine, real briefly, what's the count going to be when it's all over?

CORZINE: 51-49, with Tom Daschle the majority leader.

The fact is that, in Wisconsin, Russ Feingold is leading in a Chicago Tribune poll that came out this week of 24 points. I don't see that.

CORZINE: We think Kentucky is a state where we're not yet in the lead, but we've seen a double-digit, high double-digit, 17- to 20- point lead by Jim Bunning erode.

Dan Mongiardo is going to win in Kentucky. He's closed it to either three or six, and he's moving. We believe we've got a senator who's out of touch, unable to talk seriously about health care and other things people care about. We're going to win in Kentucky.

WALLACE: Gentlemen, we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you both so much, and we'll see how the world turns on election night.

Thank you, both. Appreciate it.