OTR Interviews

Transcript: Some Sharp Advice for Bush and Kerry

This is a partial transcript from "On the Record" with Greta Van Susteren, July 7, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Joining us in Los Angeles is former Dukakis campaign manager Susan Estrich, and here in Washington is the host of talk radio's "Laura Ingraham Show" and the author of "Shut Up and Sing" by Laura Ingraham. And I should add 250 radio stations, right?

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. We just passed the mark, so I'm happy about that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, congressional. All right, because you passed the mark, I'll give you the first question. What's the best political advice you have for the Bush-Cheney ticket?

INGRAHAM: Bush-Cheney ticket has to get beyond Kerry's a flip-flopper and John Edwards doesn't have experience. That's not going to win.

And most people hear, Oh, a U.S. senator? That's enough experience for a lot of people out there, especially the independent voters. What I think they need to do is say, Look, John Edwards says he's for the regular people. He talks a lot about the mill people, and his father was a mill worker.

Well, I would put it to him like this. I would say, Look, are the mill folks for a Supreme Court that mandates gay marriage, Senator Edwards? Are the mill folks for a Supreme Court that OKs Internet porn, Senator Edwards? Are the mill folks for Michael Moore going around the globe saying that it's all America's fault? Go down the list.

Does he really represent those traditional values of the mill people, or does he represent an elite vision that might be part of North Carolinian society, but from everything that I'm hearing from my listeners in North Carolina, he wouldn't even get elected there!

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, same question to you, Susan, only a little different twist. What's your best political advice for the new Edwards- Kerry ticket? Or Kerry-Edwards ticket, I should say.

SUSAN ESTRICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: You know what, Greta? I'm so happy. I don't have any more advice today because John Kerry did the right thing on Monday. He picked the right guy. And I agree with Laura -- or at least I half agree with Laura. I think this dog doesn't hunt.

I mean, George Bush going out there and attacking John Edwards for not being ready to be president -- I mean, look at George Bush's own experience. He came into the presidency with far less foreign policy and national security experience than John Edwards. So it just doesn't work for him to go out there and say a United States senator isn't ready to be president, when the governor of Texas, which is a very weak governor, I mean, in terms of, you know, the power of the governor -- I mean, if you take that standard, George Bush had no business being president.

And in fact, some people are beginning to wonder. But I just don't think that approach is working. And I think John Edwards is a very appealing guy. I don't think you're going to paint him as an elitist, but I think Laura is right, this approach is just not going to work for them.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now the tougher question. Your advice, Laura, for the Kerry-Edwards ticket, your best political advice?

INGRAHAM: I think they have to be careful because they don't want to really talk about Iraq, do they. I mean, while Susan can say George Bush wasn't qualified to be president -- I mean, he ran a state, and we know from our history that most presidents come from governorship, not from the U.S. Senate.

But what I would do if I were the Kerry campaign say, Look, keep on the Herbert Hoover was the last president who actually lost jobs during his tenure as president. We will take care of this country first. We will -- we will pledge to you as Democrats that we will do everything in our power to make America safe, regardless of what France tells us to do, regardless of what Germany tells to do. We're representing this country first.

They've got to drop the brand that I think the Republicans are going to put on them as the party of Europe. Republicans are going to say they're in line with the Europeans. The regular folks, sure, but the European regular folks, not the American regular folks. They have to really shake that image.

VAN SUSTEREN: Susan, your best advice for the Bush-Cheney ticket?

ESTRICH: The Bush-Cheney ticket? Well, I don't know. I think the Bush-Cheney ticket has got to figure out some way to do -- what? To -- I don't know. I'm not sure I know what I'd do if I were Bush-Cheney right now. Deal with this war in Iraq, find a way -- I think this war in Iraq really is dragging them down. I really do. I think...

VAN SUSTEREN: So you're dodging the question.

ESTRICH: I don't know what I'd do if I were them!

INGRAHAM: Well, look, what I would -- if I were the Bush -- the Bush team right now, you got to say, Look, the country is on an upward trajectory. Iraq is now taking control of itself, its own governmental processes. They're going to be trying Saddam Hussein. We want to continue a path of upward mobility for this country...

ESTRICH: Oh, Laura!

INGRAHAM: ... and economic success. That's what we need to do.

ESTRICH: ... terribly in Iraq! Come on!

INGRAHAM: Oh, that -- but -- but the rest...

ESTRICH: You know?

INGRAHAM: ... of the country, Susan, isn't actually, I think, as ultimately cynical and pessimistic as I'm not saying you are...

ESTRICH: I'm not -- I'm not cynical!

INGRAHAM: ... but a lot of people in the Democratic Party are. And John Kerry doesn't want to make it about Iraq. You know why, Susan? Because John Kerry doesn't have a plan for Iraq. That's what I would do...

ESTRICH: He doesn't need a plan, Laura.

INGRAHAM: ... if I were the Bush administration. I would say, Senator Kerry, Senator Edwards, what is your plan for the Middle East? And you know something? They're going to get...

ESTRICH: But the problem is...

INGRAHAM: ... a big blank stare coming back.

VAN SUSTEREN: Answer that quickly, and then I want to ask a question. Go ahead, Susan. You can answer -- you can answer the...

ESTRICH: But see, the problem on Iraq is -- you know, part of the problem on Iraq is we need different leadership. And part of the reason the rest of the world isn't coming to our aid in Iraq is because they don't want to help out George Bush. And you know, John Kerry can't say this, but I will. The rest of the world won't come to our side until we get rid of George Bush. And that's...

INGRAHAM: Susan, what is France going to do for us?

ESTRICH: ... the long and short of it.

INGRAHAM: Susan, do you really think France...

ESTRICH: You just need to be...

INGRAHAM: ... is going to commit troops? Do you really think...

ESTRICH: I don't think France...

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me -- let me...

ESTRICH: I'm with Bill O'Reilly on that point. But I do think the rest of the world is not going to stand up and say, America is not in this alone, as long as it's George Bush. I mean, you know that, Laura, don't you?

INGRAHAM: No, I don't think any of that's going to change if it's a Kerry presidency. I think he wants people to think that...

ESTRICH: Oh, yes, I do.

INGRAHAM: ... but regular people in Ohio don't care if we've offended France and Germany. That's what the Democrats don't get.

ESTRICH: But regular people in Ohio care that their kids are dying and that the enlistments are not ending when they're supposed to and that their kids are going...

INGRAHAM: They understand it's difficult...

ESTRICH: ... to serve in a war...

INGRAHAM: ... and it's going to continue to be...

VAN SUSTEREN: All right...

ESTRICH: And they don't want this war to keep going, and they're losing their faith in George Bush's ability to lead. You've got to agree with that.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we'll I'm going to have to bring -- I'm going to have to bring both of you back because we've run out of time. We don't get to talk about the issue I wanted to, taxes, which I'm sure that you're all very interested in. But Laura, thank you very much... Susan, nice to see you...

INGRAHAM: They'll raise the taxes, by the way.

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