Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo.

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, April 23, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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TERRY KEENAN, GUEST HOST: Let the race begin. He wants to win the nomination for president. And today Democratic Congressman Dick Gephardt says there’s one reason he thinks he will get it.


REP. DICK GEPHARDT, D-MO.: Experience. I really believe people are going to look for experience in this race. I don’t think people are going to leave President Bush for a candidate that they aren’t quite sure can handle all of the domestic and foreign challenges facing our country. So I think the experience will be a plus. I have been at the highest levels of this government for the last 14 years, dealt with every both domestic and foreign policy issue that we have had to deal with. And I think that is going to be a plus in this campaign.

KEENAN: You mention the president and the fact that Americans aren’t going to leave him for someone that doesn’t have experience. Seventy-one percent approval rating for this president, now a wartime president. I’ve heard that in your standard fund-raising pitch that you’ve actually said that this president has been the worst president that you have had to work with. That flies in the face of what many Americans seem to think right now. Why has he been the worst president to work with?

GEPHARDT: I just don’t think he is leading us in the right directions. I think his economic plan is not working. It’s, in fact, I think, failing. That is why I called today for repealing the Bush tax cuts, and instead using that revenue to give tax cuts to business and to small business to get all of our people covered with health insurance in the country. I think it would far more stimulate the economy than what we are doing. It would put money in people’s pockets. It would help business be able to hire new people and give pay increases to people, something you can’t even talk about today. It would really get this economy moving in the right direction. I think that is a critical issue, always a critical issue in any campaign.

KEENAN: So are you saying that if you were elected, the first thing that you would do would be to raise taxes on the individual by repealing those Bush tax cuts?

GEPHARDT: No, I would put those tax cuts aside and instead use that for tax cuts for business and for people to get everybody covered with health insurance. And I would give it to companies that both do health care now and companies that don’t do health care now so that we get everyone. We have 41 million people in this country that do not have health insurance. They still get sick. They still go to the emergency room, usually too late after they’ve had a heart attack or some bad event. And then we have to shift those costs to everybody who has health insurance. It is a crazy system. We can rationalize the system and stimulate the economy at the same time.

KEENAN: This is a system clearly out of whack, and I think everyone would agree to that. But by instituting some sort of universal health care, wouldn’t we just send jobs overseas to countries that provide no health care for their employees?

GEPHARDT: No, and in fact, this would simply be a lot more help from the federal government to every business in this country to be able to provide health care for their employees. I have talked to lots of especially small business people. Anyone in business today wants to give health care to their employees as part of their employment. They get more loyal employees. They get more productive employees. Many of them just can’t figure out how to afford it. So this is helping American businesses be able to afford something that I think the vast majority of American businesses really want to do.

KEENAN: Turning for a minute to foreign affairs, you supported the president in the war, how do you think he did?

GEPHARDT: I think our whole country did a really good job. This was a tough situation. Everybody doesn’t agree. Nobody wanted a war. And we wish we wouldn’t have had to do this.

KEENAN: Well, some of your other Democratic contenders and colleagues didn’t want - wanted us to stay out of the war.

GEPHARDT: I understand. There are many different opinions. I respect everybody’s opinion. To me this was about stopping weapons of mass destruction from winding up in the hands of terrorists. And I feel we’ve got to do everything in our power to prevent that from happening. I wish we could have gotten the U.N. with us in the end. I’m sorry we didn’t. But we had to go ahead and do this because it is about the safety of our people. Our young people performed wonderfully. They did a fabulous job. We should be very proud of them in a very complicated situation.

KEENAN: And does that put you in a better position vis-a-vis some of the other Democratic contenders here?

GEPHARDT: I’m not sure. I’ve tried to keep politics out of this. This is about the safety of our people. We don’t have a higher responsibility than to get that done. And so I’ve said, I am going to do what I think is the right thing for the country, and politics shouldn’t be brought into this. That is my feeling.


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