Carville & Begala Enter the No Spin Zone
This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 25, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight, as I mentioned in the "Talking Points Memo" at the top of the program, the left is having a hard time getting traction, despite the Bush administration being beset with some very difficult problems.
With us now are two committed liberal Democrats who say they have a formula to reignite the Democrat Party. James Carville and Paul Begala are the co-authors of the new book "Take it Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future."
OK. The war on terror, Mr. Carville, all polls show Republicans still are showing a wide margin of acceptance over the Democrats. What do Democrats have to do to convince Americans they are terror warriors?
JAMES CARVILLE, CO-AUTHOR, "TAKE IT BACK": Well, first of all, I think the Democrats have done pretty good. Whether or not they'll ever get to parity with the Republicans on the war on terror, is quite another question. But the difference between 30 points behind and 10 points behind is another thing.
O'REILLY: You're about 15 points behind.
CARVILLE: That's within a range. I think if they cut that to 10 that's fine. But there are some issues that they're going to be way ahead of Republicans on.
O'REILLY: Let's stay with terror. What would you recommend the next president who next — the next candidate...
CARVILLE: First of all, Democrats should correctly point out that they were the first people to advocate Department of Homeland Security, which President Bush fought.
Secondly, the Democrats have been very more active in security, in port protection and things like that. Third, the Democrats, and most Americans believe that America is stronger, it fights terror better, when it cooperates with other countries as opposed to acting unilaterally as this administration has done.
O'REILLY: But that was a loser for John Kerry.
CARVILLE: I don't think it was. I don't think that was the reason Kerry lost at least.
O'REILLY: Kerry was basically putting out we have to cooperate with other countries and this, that and the other thing. And obviously, people didn't buy it.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-AUTHOR, "TAKE IT BACK": You know what else he said, in fact? In the book, we call it John Kerry's finest hour. He went right at President Bush for wimping out at Tora Bora. We had bin Laden, this murderous animal, cornered at Tora Bora. We had the 10th Mountain Division, the most legendary mountain fighters in the world, and Bush wimped out. And Kerry called him on it.
O'REILLY: That's past history.
CARVILLE: It's not past history.
BEGALA: Democrats — it's part of the history. The reason the man fought — attacks, instead of playing checkers in hell with Adolf Hitler, is because Bush let him go at Tora Bora.
O'REILLY: It's not going to help you. It's not going to help you.
CARVILLE: It's a big insight into this president, that he had bin Laden cornered and didn't make the right decision.
O'REILLY: If you go to Tora Bora in '08 that's a loser. And anybody will say, look, under Clinton — you can do the same historical thing under Clinton. Al Qaeda grew in ferocity. He could have confronted him. He could have gotten him 15 times. But that's not going to work. What's going to work is forward looking, forward looking.
BEGALA: I agree with that, as well. I think you cannot let the indictment be unstated, that it's the president has made America weaker and not stronger.
O'REILLY: And you're going to prove that how?
BEGALA: By making the case. He has neglected the terror — he walked away from bin Laden in Tora Bora and allowed him to live to be...
O'REILLY: You're back in Tora Bora again.
BEGALA: No, no. And today he does not secure our borders, an issue you and I agree on. He has not secured our nuclear power plants.
O'REILLY: All right. Let's talk about that.
BEGALA: Has not secured our chemical plants. Has not secured — Democrats are way out ahead on that.
O'REILLY: You can say — all right. How far out they're ahead on, I'm not sure, because I haven't heard one Democrat say anything about securing the border in a meaningful way. So I'm going to put it to you. Are you going to bring up the border? Then they're going to say, well, what are you doing do, Senator Clinton, about securing the border, and you're going to say?
BEGALA: I'll let Senator Clinton speak for herself.
O'REILLY: Well, Mr. Begala...
O'REILLY: If you let her speak for herself, you're not going to get an answer.
BEGALA: Here's what I think Democrats ought to say. That we have to secure the border first.
BEGALA: The president has failed us, OK? Where do you go, the experts. You find out. We need a bigger border patrol, certainly.
O'REILLY: Bigger border patrol, all right.
BEGALA: I don't think — I saw Mr. Gilchrist on earlier on "The Factor." I don't think that's the solution.
O'REILLY: Fence? Border fence?
BEGALA: I'm open to that, sure.
O'REILLY: You're open to it?
BEGALA: I know a lot of Democrats who you would be surprised to hear that.
Second, though, I think this is where I part company with some of my friends that go out and crapshoot. I don't believe illegal aliens come here for our welfare benefits. I believe they come here for our jobs.
O'REILLY: It doesn't matter why they come here.
BEGALA: Yes, it does. That's how you stop them. You set up a barrier at the border and then a barrier at the job site. My Republican friends want to set up a barrier at the emergency room to tell a 7-year-old girl having an asthma attack she can't get treatment.
O'REILLY: All right. So you're open to a fence? You're open to a fence?
O'REILLY: Are you open to a fence?
CARVILLE: Yes. I'm open — I'm for border security. I think that...
O'REILLY: What does that mean?
CARVILLE: Open to a fence.
O'REILLY: How about the National Guard? You open to the guard?
O'REILLY: The Democratic governor of Arizona said...
CARVILLE: If she wants to apply her own guards to protect her own safety, I'm certainly all for that. I'm not for federalizing troops to stop borders. I'm for the border patrol. The governor has charge over her own National Guard. I'm certainly not...
O'REILLY: You guys are coming off wishy-washy.
CARVILLE: I don't think we're coming off wishy-washy at all, Bill.
CARVILLE: Everybody is wishy-washy. Nobody wants...
O'REILLY: You're not going to get your person elected in 2008 by bashing Bush. You have got to put forth to the American people what you are going to do.
CARVILLE: That book has 64 — 64 different proposals in that book, which I'd say we counted every one of them because we knew...
O'REILLY: I'm asking you now and you've got to tell us.
Now, Iraq. All right. So say that it's a drawdown in Iraq by 2008. All right? And the issue isn't as hot as it is now, which I believe will happen. So what are you going to do? Is that going to be something you discuss or what?
BEGALA: Well, it depends on what the situation on the ground is. I think your prediction is right.
O'REILLY: They'll draw down.
BEGALA: This is interesting. They will do what the Democrats are calling for, which is a strategic redeployment and drawdown, even while attacking the Democrats for calling for it.
O'REILLY: You're not a cut and run guy, are you?
BEGALA: That is hypocritical. No.
O'REILLY: Are you a cut and run guy?
BEGALA: I am a win the war and redeploy.
CARVILLE: I am for they've got to decide whether they want to have a country or not. If they do, we'll help them. If they don't, we'll pull out.
O'REILLY: So neither of you are cut and runners?
BEGALA: No, but neither are the Democrats.
O'REILLY: Well, Howard Dean is.
BEGALA: I don't think Howard Dean is. I've talked to him about this, actually, and he is for a proposal that the Center for American Progress has put out.
But the president of the United States is going to withdraw troops while he's attacking Democrats for saying that.
O'REILLY: Here is your problem — here is your problem. You just...
CARVILLE: You say we don't talk clearly, Bill. We're talking as clearly as we can talk.
O'REILLY: But here's your problem. If you say Howard Dean is not a cut and runner...
O'REILLY: ... I'm saying my impression, I'm sure the impression of the audience is that he is. And John Murtha got tremendous traction on the Democratic side by being a cut and runner. You didn't hear the — outside of Lieberman, anybody criticize him. You guys have got to — I'm looking out for you. I'm looking out for you.
CARVILLE: It's not fair to him either. It really isn't fair to Mr. Murtha either.
O'REILLY: He's wants to cut and run is what he wants to do.
BEGALA: That's not what he said. What he wants to do is redeploy outside of the perimeter.
O'REILLY: No, he wants to pull everybody out.
BEGALA: He wants a broader perimeter in Middle East so we have a presence there. But you know, the president has got 150,000 of our finest young people there without enough body armor, without enough troop protection, without a plan to win.
BEGALA: Democrats are pointing that out.
O'REILLY: Again, you're not going to win 2008 by Bush bashing. It's not going to happen, all right?
Got to take a break. Got to take a break.
CARVILLE: All right.
O'REILLY: When we come back, and you guy cans — I'll give you a little hint. The next time what we're going to talk about is Jessica's Law, protecting the kids. All right? So you can think about it. More with these two guys in a moment.
And then, more instruction on American history by Cindy Sheehan. You're going to want to get out your notebooks. It's coming up.
O'REILLY: Continuing now with Paul Begala and James Carville, the authors of the brand new book "Take it Back."
You guys made one mistake in your book. Pardon me for saying it.
CARVILLE: That's all? That's pretty good.
O'REILLY: You have 638 footnotes in the book, you know. The problem with some of those footnotes if that you are using feel like David Corn, Robert Scheer, very far left individuals, as sources. And you really can't do that and then try to win over people who are in the middle or not far left, because these guys are bomb throwers.
BEGALA: David Corn is one of the best journalists I know. He was the first person to blow the whistle on the outing of Valerie Plame, which damaged our national security.
O'REILLY: He's a partisan guy.
BEGALA: He's a terrific journalist. And so is Bob Scheer, who writes for The New York Times.
O'REILLY: It doesn't get get more far left. If you want to stake that territory out, I'm just telling you, you cede the middle.
Now, Jessica's Law, in Washington state, in New York state, in California, there are all varying degrees of Jessica's Law in the legislature right now. OK? All of them pit Republicans against Democrats. In all three states, Democrats are for lesser penalties for child felons than Republicans. You're going to get hammered on that.
BEGALA: I'm not familiar with the state situation, but I am with the federal situation. Jessica's Law has been introduced as federal legislation by Bill Nelson, a Democrat, from Florida. In fact, last night Senator Nelson...
O'REILLY: And you're for that, right?
BEGALA: Yes. Whoa, whoa. He has one co-sponsor. Let's give credit to the one co-sponsor Senator Nelson has. You know who it is? Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
O'REILLY: We're all for protecting the kids.
BEGALA: Democrats ought to get some credit. You're right about Jessica's Law, but this so is Hillary. This is a Bill and Hillary thing, you know? Maybe...
CARVILLE: If you have a federal...
O'REILLY: Senator Clinton wants to get behind Jessica's Law...
BEGALA: She's already behind it.
O'REILLY: ... in New York state and in the federal level, we're absolutely on her side.
CARVILLE: Bill, if you have a federal law, then you don't have to worry about 50 different states. Have a federal law, and it's done.
O'REILLY: No. It's not done.
CARVILLE: And she — Bill Nelson...
O'REILLY: Here's the problem.
CARVILLE: ... Hillary Clinton. What?
O'REILLY: A lot of these are local crimes, and they won't be prosecuted.
CARVILLE: But if you make it is federal law, then it becomes a federal crime.
O'REILLY: If you want to federalize the whole thing, then you have to put big agencies up, and they're never going to do that. It's a local problem.
But in Vermont where we're concentrating our efforts right now, the Democratic legislature is blocking sanctions on a judge who gave a child rapist 60 days. You've got kids, and you've got kids. Sixty days for child rapist can't stand. And it's a Democratic person doing it.
BEGALA: Maybe in one or two instances...
O'REILLY: A lot of instances.
BEGALA: ... here or there, but as I pointed out, where I live in Washington, D.C., the people who are working on it hardest are the Democrats like Hillary and like Senator Bill Nelson from Florida.
I don't know. You know a lot more about this issue than I do. I have to say, my mother was a counselor for children who had been abused, though.
BEGALA: This is a really important issue in my family. And I guess you've got to stop at 25 years because you can't get more.
O'REILLY: You out to get 20 or 25 to life.
BEGALA: You know what Jesus said? Better have a millstone around your neck and be cast in the sea than to harm a child.
O'REILLY: Don't be — listen, don't be bringing Jesus up. The ACLU is going to sue me, and we don't have time for it. And you know. You guys are on the — of that issue. All right.
CARVILLE: It came to us because we talk about Jesus a lot in our book.
O'REILLY: I want you guys to come back in a couple of weeks, because I want to get to health care and taxes.
O'REILLY: We don't have time to do that. Interesting book. And we appreciate you guys coming in and kicking it around with us.
CARVILLE: Always good to be on "The Factor."
O'REILLY: I know it is, Carville. And at least somebody sees you now. Nobody sees you guys. Now people see you. So of course it's good to be here.
CARVILLE: Who wants to look at me?
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