This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," Nov. 1, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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JOHN GIBSON, HOST: On this final day before the election, campaigns are in overdrive and we’re trying to figure out what they are up to on the issue of national security. Joining me now, Mary Anne Marsh, Democratic Strategist, coming to us from Boston, and sitting next to me, former Oklahoma Congressman, J.C. Watts.
Mr. Watts, to what extent do you think here in the last hours of the campaign is national security (search) making the difference?
J.C. WATTS (R), FORMER OKLAHOMA CONGRESSMAN: John, I think most people at this point, all the polls and what we see, I’m so sick of polls I can hardly stand it, but I think people at this point have pretty much made up their mind.
I think they’ve got a good sense of where President Bush (search) stands on the national security issues. I think they’ve got a good feel for where Senator Kerry (search) stands. I doubt very seriously anybody will go into the ballot box tomorrow, thinking, "OK, let me see which way I’m going to vote here." I think they’ve pretty much made up their mind, and national security will play a big role in that, and I think Bush wins that battle.
GIBSON: Mary Anne, I know you think John Kerry wins that battle — we’re looking at him on the air — but, you know, in these final hours, I mean, you think people are thinking about it, or have they already thought about it to the point where they got a headache and don’t give it much more thought?
MARY ANNE MARSH, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think both. I actually agree with Congressman Watts. I think most people right now have decided. The persuasion part of this campaign really is over. This is about persuading people who support you to get out and vote.
But I do think the appearance of Usama Bin Laden (search) over the weekend helped Kerry in that it reminds people that Bush says, "Look, we’re winning the War on Terror," but now Bin Laden pops up and it reminds them that he didn’t get them. He says the economy is getting people, but people are saying that they don’t have jobs.
GIBSON: But Mary Anne, Bin Laden as much said vote for Kerry. He said if you vote for Bush, we’re going to look at each individual state. If you re-elect Bush, we make you a target. How does that help John Kerry?
MARSH: What he said is one thing; what people decide to do with that is another in this country. I don’t think Bin Laden instructing people how to vote influences them. But for the Kerry campaign and the arguments they’re making, again, it reminds people that Bush hasn’t gotten the job done when it comes to Bin Laden, that he hasn’t gotten the job done on the economy, because if people have been hired, if they have a job, they’re making half of what they made, and their health insurance has gone up, if they have it.
GIBSON: Okay, J.C., Usama bin Laden could enter this campaign by sending a tape. He has not been able to enter the campaign by sending a bomb. You would think that would work in Mr. Bush’s favor, despite the truth of what Mary Anne says, that he said I’m going to get him and didn’t.
WATTS: Well, the fact is, John, you nailed it. The fact that he sent a tape, sent a message, as opposed to sending a bomb, that’s a big win.
John, there are two types of terrorists: you’ve got the thuggish nomads that travel over the country trying to do bad things. But then you have those people who are stable, that have buildings and everything that they can build these things and then distribute them to the nomads. The fact that we have not been hit since September 11 speaks volumes for what this President has done.
And I tell you, when evil people say they will do evil things to the United States, we better take them seriously. George Bush has. John Kerry to this day, you still don’t have any clue where he stands about anything because he’s so politically correct that it’s taken all of his convictions.
GIBSON: OK, now Mary Anne, I think John Kerry has said quite unequivocally, "I’ll chase him down, I’ll hunt him, I’ll give him no quarter." But he’s also said other things, like, "I’ll worry about what the world thinks of what we’re doing." And only today said, "The hopes of the nation and the world are on the line in the election tomorrow. The world will be watching." Is that such a great message to say to Americans, you got to worry about what the world thinks of how you vote?
MARSH: I think the vote for president’s a very personal decision, so people are going to decide how they feel about their circumstances and the people who are running for president. I think John Kerry also understands, having fought in Vietnam (search) and all these years of service, that there’s strength in numbers.
And I think a lot of people right now, above and beyond trying to be successful in the War on Terrorism, getting Bin Laden and getting out of Iraq, that it would be nice to spread this burden around, because in keeping America safe, we’re trying to keep the world safe. And that’s something everybody should share in. Right now we don’t have a lot of partners left in that.
GIBSON: J.C. Watts, will anybody come and share the burden with us?
WATTS: Well, John, Senator Kerry said in 1991, in 1991, we had a lot of people sharing the burden, and Senator Kerry voted against the Persian Gulf War (search). So again, that confirms what you just asked Mary Anne, he wants to have it both ways. He’s for the war, he’s against the war.
GIBSON: J.C. Watts, Mary Anne Marsh, we shall see tomorrow. And I know you guys will be back. Thanks a lot, appreciate it.
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