This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," Dec. 14, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Well, here's a shocker. Stop me if you've heard this. Most Europeans don't care for President Bush. And because you voted for him, they probably don't like you either.
An Associated Press poll finds 70 percent of French, German and Spaniards have an unfavorable view of the president. That's probably putting it mildly. About half of them also have an unfavorable view of Americans, period. About 60 percent of people in Britain are disappointed that the president won four more years.
Why is that, and should we care?
Let's ask Financial Times bureau chief James Harding (search), who is representing our Euro friends at this moment. So James, by the way, James is the Washington bureau chief, so he's fully Americanized.
So I don't get it, James. You know, it is almost as if Europeans said, "We told you to throw that guy out of office, you didn't, and now we're mad."
JAMES HARDING, FINANCIAL TIMES: Well, hi, John.
I actually am surprised by how well the liking of Americans has stood up. There was this fear, wasn't there, before the elections that if America reelected George W. Bush (search), suddenly the hostility to the president would be translated to the people as a whole, and Europeans and the British and Australians too would somehow fault the American people. And I don't think it's happened. I think that...
GIBSON: Well, it didn't happen in Britain, but it happened in France and Germany.
HARDING: In France and Germany, but even there the levels at which they dislike President George W. Bush are much higher than the levels at which they have hostility to the U.S. And I think that hostility is not simple at all. I think that our relationships across the Atlantic are wonderfully complicated and convoluted...
GIBSON: Now, don't go French on me, James.
HARDING: I know, I know...
GIBSON: You are starting to sound like the French... but let me ask you this. Here we had — and it's not as though, you know, John Kerry (search) didn't get votes. He certainly did, and 55 million Americans voted for him, 59 million Americans voted for President Bush. That fact, that there were close to 60 million Americans that would go out and vote for President Bush, seems to have left the Europeans with their mouth agape, as they never even thought this could be possible.
Now, my question is, who doesn't understand who here? Is it the — you — is it the Americans that don't seem to understand the Euros, or the Euros just don't get it about Americans?
HARDING: Well, I think there's definitely a lot of Euros who don't get it about the Americans. Funny enough, I'm here in Columbus, Ohio, today, because I've spent some time...
GIBSON: There you go.
HARDING: ... around in Clark County, following a conversation that we had, John, where, you know, you remember, a few weeks ago, just after the election, The Daily Mirror ran that headline, "How can 59 million people be so dumb?"
And afterwards, I thought to myself, "That is obviously a dumb question," but it does tell you something about the way in which the British think. They don't understand the appeal of George W. Bush's Republican Party, and I'm not sure I do fully either, so I came to spend time here in Clark County and try and understand what is it about paranoia of the family, fear of terrorism, the moral values we've heard so much about...
GIBSON: And what did you find… Tell us what you're going to write in your paper, The Financial Times.
HARDING: Well, I think I'm going to write a mixture of those things. I think the interesting thing, I find, is a very defensive Democratic Party here, a party that should, given the problems with jobs, the problems with health care, the problems with education, be able to sell their story much more effectively. But they seem rather defensive, and fearful of going on the front foot against President George W. Bush.
And I think the Europeans see Bush as a dangerous man, dangerous in terms of Iraq, dangerous...
GIBSON: OK, I know they do...
HARDING: ... to the world...
GIBSON: ... because I have done this reading myself. And I know they see Bush as dangerous. And yet so many Americans don't. Once again, I ask, who doesn't understand — who is missing something in their thinking?
HARDING: Well, we're — clearly, I think, John, you and I are doing a bad job somewhere along the line, because it's clear that back in Europe, people don't understand the appeal of the Republicans. Somehow...
GIBSON: I try to tell them, James, honest… I was censured by the BBC over that. I mean, I try.
HARDING: Right. Well, I'm sorry for your troubles with the BBC. We've all had them.
But my issue is, I guess, also here in the U.S., there is this mixture of hostility and just bafflement at the Europeans. Why have they been so concerned about Iraq? What's their affection for the U.N.? People here in the U.S., some of them just don't get that.
And I think that there is now this sort of mutual suspicion, but I say, again, and I know you don't like the idea that it's complicated…
GIBSON: James, a quick answer. Did you find the Ohio people were thinking it was getting a little crowded in the voting booth, they had a lot of Euros looking over their shoulders?
HARDING: No, although I have to tell you, every time I have been here, everyone I speak to, I have to explain that I'm not from The Guardian. You remember, they ran...
GIBSON: Oh, yes, yes, yes.
HARDING: ... Operation Ohio to write to people in Clark County. I said, "o, I'm just here to find out what you think, not to persuade you one way or the other."
GIBSON: James Harding, Washington bureau chief of The Financial Times. James, always good to talk to you. Thanks a lot.
HARDING: Thanks, John.
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