This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, January 17, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: We're coming to you tonight from the Senate chambers in the Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines, Iowa. And I'm Mort Kondracke.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: And I'm Fred Barnes.

And the hot story is, 'showtime.' Saturday's tracking poll continues to show a four-man race here. Dean and Kerry are within 1 point of each other, with Gephardt and Edwards within striking distance as well.

And let's start with Howard Dean. Mort, Howard Dean has been knocked off his perch in Iowa as front-runner and is now in a dogfight, there's no question about that. Now, the question is, why? I think there are really two reasons.

One, Saddam Hussein's capture. It just meant that the war issue was not as big an issue as it was before. And I'm afraid Howard Dean is a one-issue candidate.

And secondly, there's the insurgent issue. I mean, here he was an insurgent, and he became the establishment guy by getting all those endorsements, and that didn't help him a whole lot.

But he's still going around knocking all his folks. He says he wants to be the positive guy now, but he's still attacking his foes. You remember, he put that ad on that he now is trying to get off the air, the ad in which he criticizes the other Democrats for being pro-war. It ... watch the ad, and which he hasn't gotten off the air as late as Saturday.


ANNOUNCER: Where did the Washington Democrats stand on the war? Dick Gephardt wrote the resolution to authorize war. John Kerry and John Edwards both voted for the war. Then Dick Gephardt voted to spend another $87 billion on Iraq.

Howard Dean has a different view.


KONDRACKE: Ah, well, that, both Gephardt and Dean are trying to get their nasty ... ads off, but failed. When, and what they concluded, I think, was that nasty doesn't work in Iowa, that there was a backlash against it.


KONDRACKE: But the big point is that Iowa is the first test of the whole Dean strategy for beating President Bush, and that is, to bring massive numbers of new voters who have been turned off by the, quote-unquote, "system," into the electorate, and they're going to not only give Dean the nomination, but also swamp President Bush.

Now, Dean does have a huge army of volunteers in state and out of state, and they do have intensity, and they're going to need intensity on Monday night, because the weather, I mean, the temperature, is supposed to be ... 4 degrees, you know, which, which ... means that you have to be, you have to be really pretty dedicated.

BARNES: OK. John Kerry. Now, you saw the Dean ad. Watch this Kerry ad, and you'll see it sounds a lot different. It's a different approach.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's a sense after Vietnam (search) that every other day, it's extra, that you have to do what's right and let the chips fall where they may, because it's right to guarantee all Americans health care. You know, it's right to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and invest in our kids.

That's why I'm running for president.


BARNES: See what I mean?


BARNES: Yes, it is quite different, doesn't have the hard edge that one that Dean has, and Dean's ads have. Now, why has Kerry surged in Iowa? I think there are a couple reasons. One, Dean has run into a little bit of problem on the war issue.

But there's the viability question, the electability question. Can Howard Dean really be elected president? I think there are a lot of Iowa Democrats who want more than anything else a Democratic nominee who can beat George Bush, and I think many of them now feel that John Kerry has a better shot at doing that than Howard Dean does.

And secondly, you know, Kerry has spent a lot of time in Iowa campaigning over the last year. There are a lot of warm feelings toward him, which you see in the huge crowds that he's been getting late in the campaign. And, and I think that's come to provide him with a solid base.

He's lacking one thing, and that is an organization to match Dean's, or, even more so, to match Richard Gephardt's, which is really extraordinary.

KONDRACKE: Yes. Well, Kerry and Edwards are the big surprises in Iowa. They were both given up for dead, and now they're back to life. And ... Kerry's revival in Iowa is paying dividends, if you can believe the polls, and, you know, it's difficult, but is causing a bit of a revival of Kerry, who seemed to be dead in New Hampshire, the next state, which is a must-win for him.

Kerry does not have the army that Gephardt and Dean seem to have. However, he does have a very good organizer here ... who, who came up with the bright idea the other day of having Kerry fly his own helicopter around the state, sort of reminding people that he's a veteran and all that stuff, and experience and veterans are his base.

Now, Dick, the one person, Dick Gephardt, one, is the one person for whom this is really make or break. I mean, I think even a close second puts Gephardt into difficult straits, because this, he's confessed himself that this is must-win for him.

What Gephardt does have is, is troops, you know, union troops.


KONDRACKE: And ... what's interesting is that all these candidates are trying to say in some way, I'm the only candidate who could beat George Bush, and here's why. And what, what Gephardt was saying the other day is that we don't need another George McGovern, we don't need another Michael Dukakis, we don't need another Walter Mondale.

Unfortunately, I'm afraid Dick Gephardt is Walter Mondale.

BARNES: Oh, Jeez. Mort...

KONDRACKE: He wants to raise taxes...

BARNES: Mort...

KONDRACKE: ... he wants to raise taxes, and he also represents the, the old-line union movement and...


KONDRACKE: ... and older people.

BARNES: Mondale? Jeez, Mort, I mean, Mondale, Mondale lost 49 states. I don't, I don't think Gephardt would be in that situation...

KONDRACKE: By the way, we should have...

BARNES: ... if he got the nomination.

KONDRACKE: ... we have a, we have a Gephardt ad...

BARNES: Oh, yes, OK ... let's run that.



ANNOUNCER: How much do you really know about Howard Dean? Did you know Howard Dean called Medicare (search) one of the worst federal programs ever? Did you know he supported the Republican plan to cut Medicare by $270 billion?


BARNES: Yes, no, that was the ad that Gephardt tried to pull off the air. But...


BARNES: ... it was still on the air Saturday.

You know, I do think Gephardt's a little stronger than you have said, but you do get the sense out here in Iowa that this is Gephardt's swan song, that this may be the end of his political career.

Look, he is such a decent guy. But the undecideds don't seem to be moving in his direction, in particular. And the other thing, of course, though, that you have to keep in mind is that organization. You've mentioned it. It does matter. This is an organizational event, getting people out at 6:30 in the evening on a cold Monday night. And he's got the troops to do it.

KONDRACKE: Right. Finally, John Edwards ... if Dean's shtick is anger, what Edwards has been doing is uplift ... being inspirational, the anti-negative candidate ... the very positive candidate. Here's, here's his ad.


SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I think this is about something much bigger than these petty sniping that are going on. It's about a new, positive, uplifting vision for America. That's what we're about as Democrats. It's what we should always be about.


KONDRACKE: You know, oh, in his speeches ... he says, another one of his lines is that, that nobody owns me, I never take money from ... lobbyists. But if Edwards makes a comeback and becomes a threat to everybody else ... suddenly we were going to hear it again, not to be petty about this ... that he has gotten a lot of money from trial lawyers ... which are a special interest group.

BARNES: I know that. He sounded in that ad a little bit like a motivational speaker.

Look, he is likable, and I've felt likeability, you know, can come in handy in politics. It helped you. It's a lesson that Howard Dean has not heard. And, and Edwards is obviously the anti-Dean candidate. OK.

What elevated Edwards in Iowa? One, was that debate. He did very well in the debate sponsored by The Des Moines Register, the last major debate, and he was likable and had that uplifting message.

Secondly, he got The Des Moines Register's endorsement. And that matters in Democratic politics, because it's a liberal paper that, that liberals pay attention to, and that helped him. It sort of certified him as somebody who really could be president.

Still, he lacks an organization, and that's going to hurt him. And specificity. He needs to talk more about the issues. OK.

We've come to the point, Mort, we can't avoid, and it's we have to make our predictions.

So here's how Mort and I think it'll shake out Monday night. We think Dean will win, followed by Gephardt, John Kerry will come in third, and John Edwards will come in fourth.

KONDRACKE: Viewers will notice that we did not put numbers on ... on these things. I'll go out on a limb and say that I think that Dean is going to win by better than expected, maybe 5 points ... and that will probably mean ... that Gephardt is finished.

BARNES: Well, I don't know about that. The conventional wisdom is that three candidates will come, will still be alive after Iowa, plus Wesley Clark, who's in New Hampshire and not participating in Iowa.

And those three would be, of course, Dean, Edwards, and Kerry. I think Gephardt will be alive ... maybe on his last legs, but he'll still be there. Then Clark, and then Joe Lieberman too, who's going to take a last stand somewhere.

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