Interviews

Mrs. Heinz Kerry vs. Mrs. Bush

This is a partial transcript from "The O'REILLY Factor," Oct. 21, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST:  In the "Personal story" segment tonight, as you may have heard,  Teresa Heinz Kerry told "USA Today" she likes Laura Bush's spirit, but that  the First Lady never held a job, which was news to Mrs.  Bush, who was a  teacher and a librarian.  And of course, being a First Lady is a job.

Now Ms. Kerry has apologized for that remark.  Mrs. Bush said no  apology was needed, but the issue is hot on talk radio and other places.

Joining us now from Chicago is Lynn Sweet, the Washington  bureau  chief for "The Chicago Sun-Times."

This is a woman's issue, I believe.  Do you think it's going to have  any effect?  Since we talked earlier, women are really going to decide this  election. 

LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES:  Women are the biggest unknown right  now.  And here's why I think it will have an impact.  And it might not be  big, though.

If this is the big fight is over undecided women, then there's a  potential that this remark, for which there has been an apology given and  accepted, could turn off some people.

But here's the point, I think, that we have to think.  The women who  might be most turned off by this are the women who probably  would have  voted for George Bush anyway and for whom this is a very big issue.

The point for Bush, if I could do Bush first, is that this might  energize, making sure that these women who would vote for him, if  they go  to the polls, get up and go or do early voting, which is what both  campaigns are pushing now.

Now the minus for Kerry is, it's kind of believed by most pollsters  I've talked to that most of the undecideds are leaning towards him right  now.  It's just how things break.  You've mentioned it earlier in the show.

And if that's the case, then in a sense he just doesn't need this  aggravation of this remark.

Now having still said that, just think of the undecideds now.  Are  they even focusing on this, Bill, because if they're still undecided now,  that means that they're not tuning in to a lot of television or press. 

O'REILLY:  Yes, but what happens.  I understand.  But what happens to  these things is it gets into - it gets beyond the news shows and it gets  into the pop culture, particularly on talk radio.

SWEET:  Yes.

O'REILLY:  And people are flipping around the dial.

Now Teresa Heinz Kerry, as I've said many times, to me is a little  idiosyncratic, very interesting.  But it looks to be — you know, we did a  search on all the things she said.  You know, she called somebody an S-bag.   She told a reporter to shove it.  She's been in one controversy after  another.

When you stack her up against Laura Bush, who comes off as a  traditional, loyal supportive spouse, I think Mrs. Bush wins that  comparison all day long.  Am I wrong?

SWEET:  Well, I went to an event Sunday in Washington that Teresa Heinz Kerry was at.  And actually, I was surprised, because she started  talking out about how she thinks she and Laura Bush are in the same boat.   And she was empathetic.  And she said both of us have to deal in a world  that basically revolves around the men that we're — you know, that we're  with all the time.  And I'm sure that, as I support, you know, John Kerry, I'm sure Laura  Bush feels the same way.  So that might just be a side of her that doesn't  get seen a lot.  And it's like anything else in the campaign.  As you know,  it's the exception that gets the attention, not the rule.

So I think there is a side of her where she has a little bit of  feeling of kinship with the First Lady.  You might have seen them hug a  little bit after that first debate. 

O'REILLY:  Well, you know, I mean, I'm sure they do.  But when you're  in an election that's this close, all right, that's this razor-thin close,  when people go to the polls, I said earlier, they vote emotion.  A lot of  people vote emotion. 

SWEET:  And for women, politics is perception and politics is   personal for women, a little more than men.

O'REILLY:  Right.

SWEET:  That's what pollsters are telling me.

O'REILLY:  So...

SWEET:  So if you want me to think does this help Kerry?  No.

O'REILLY:  Right.

SWEET:  Could he have avoided the aggravation?

O'REILLY:  Yes.

SWEET:  Would it have been better?  She hadn't.  So this - yes, on the  other hand, did she give the Republicans an opening that they're  exploiting?  Yes.

O'REILLY:  Yes, of course.

SWEET:  I think they're going a little overboard because...

O'REILLY:  Of course, they are.  They all — both sides go overboard.   I mean, it's like gotcha.  Anything they can get they're going to throw at  you. 

SWEET:  Now I don't know if you have a chance, or if you throw up the  quote on the screen or something to show the whole thing.  She's almost  making fun of herself in the paragraph, being older than Laura Bush. 

O'REILLY:  Yes, it was just a mistake to say that the woman didn't  have a job. 

SWEET:  It was awkward, because I think in a sense what she's talking  about is everybody in America knows now that women...

O'REILLY:  All right, I think...

SWEET:  ...work at home.  But there's a second shift for  women who  also have another job.  And I think that's what she meant.  But, you know,  you don't get a lot of second chances to say  things in politics. 

O'REILLY:  You know, all right, Ms. Sweet, thanks very much.    We  appreciate it.

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