Is DNC closure for Bill Clinton?

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This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," August 26, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.






NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: You remember that? We were merciless in the media, right? Bill Clinton giving an embarrassingly long-winded speech on behalf of 1988 nominee Michael Dukakis. It was so long when, he won a thunderous ovation when he simply kind of said, "in closing," and the rest is history.

Governor Michael Dukakis joins us right now, the 1988 nominee, who — and I was telling the governor this during the break. I think he started the Clinton era.

Without giving Bill Clinton the opportunity to speak, I thought it all — in retrospect, Governor, it was sort of like the opportunity John Kerry gave to Barack Obama, and launched Obama.

MICHAEL DUKAKIS (D), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: Maybe, although Clinton was one of the best governors in the country at the time. And all of us who were governors, Republicans, as well as Democrats, knew that.

Watch Neil's interview with Michael Dukakis

CAVUTO: Why did you choose him to be...

DUKAKIS: Because I knew him, I liked him. And it was not his fault that the speech was so long. I mean, we approved it.


CAVUTO: Yes, it was. It was.

DUKAKIS: It just got longer...


CAVUTO: No, he added some things, right?

DUKAKIS: But he kids around about that.

CAVUTO: He does. He does.

A lot of folks say, Governor, 20 years later, it's closing, that with Hillary Clinton's speech tonight, it's over. The Clinton era is over.

DUKAKIS: No, I do not believe that. I mean, she's going to be in the Senate, I hope with a Democratic president.

CAVUTO: But I'm talking about presidential timber.

DUKAKIS: In what sense?

CAVUTO: Running for president again.

DUKAKIS: Who knows.

I mean, we have got a guy on the Republican side who is 72. He's running for the presidency. And Ronald Reagan was, what, when he left older than that. Your friend Dukakis is going to be 75 in November, and I feel like a kid.

CAVUTO: Are you really?



DUKAKIS: So, you know, we're — us older folks are trying to stay healthy.

CAVUTO: But there's a feeling here that, at this convention in particular, Governor, I'm not saying they're persona non grata, but a lot of them — and you have heard from some of their supporters, the die-hards, who are saying, they are not getting respect, they are not being treated with respect. And they are not happy. What do you make of that?

DUKAKIS: Well, I think that's a very, very thin sliver. Neil, I...

CAVUTO: Well, Harriet says three million of 18 million votes will jump to John McCain.

DUKAKIS: Well, I doubt that very much, because the gulf between what Hillary Clinton believes and what John McCain believes is so huge that...

CAVUTO: I do not think they care, Governor. I think they so viscerally dislike Obama that they are going beyond issues. This is a like a Greek and Italian emotional thing, you know?


DUKAKIS: Look, a lot of it depends on her. And I think she is going to be very good, not just tonight. But she's going to go out and she is going to campaign hard, especially in those states where she did well.

And I think it's going to be a very genuine kind of support for Obama. But, in the last analysis — and you have heard me say this before — it is going to be in those precincts that this election is going to be won.

CAVUTO: And you think that is where Obama is very strong, but Democrats in general, I do not know if they have picked up steam since you warned about it, are not, right?

DUKAKIS: But the work is being done. All this is preliminary stuff.


DUKAKIS: But I think she is going to be fine. And I think she is going to be very supportive. And I think Bill will be very supportive.

CAVUTO: Well, you mentioned Bill, the former president.

He was apparently ticked off, Governor, that his speech tomorrow night can't be on the economy and has to be on national security. He's arguing, look, I'm the economic turnaround artist. I hiked taxes on rich, and there was not hell to pay for it. Barack Obama wants to hike taxes...

DUKAKIS: In fact, we had the biggest boom in American history.

CAVUTO: I know. I know. And, of course, you know, Republicans take credit for that, too.

But he is saying, look, this is my strength, and you are not letting me have my strength.

What do you make of that?

DUKAKIS: I think he will be talking about — just about everything by the time he finishes, because I have known him for a long time.


CAVUTO: In other words, Bill Clinton will do what he wants to do.


DUKAKIS: And he will be fine.


You know, Governor, the one thing, fairly or not, against when your campaign went down in the polls, is that Republicans painted you — maybe you were — as a die-hard liberal, and Americans were not interested in a die-hard liberal.


CAVUTO: And Republicans are casting Obama as a die-hard liberal, and it won't work, and he's going to fall apart. And, if he was so — so hot, he would be 20 points ahead in the polls.


DUKAKIS: Well, they have a few problems, too, Neil.

I mean, what is conservative about invading Iraq? What is conservative about a half-a-trillion-dollar deficit? This has been the most fiscally irresponsible administration in history.

So, think we have got some talking to do about these kinds of things. I do not know what these labels mean. All I know is, the economy is in terrible shape. We have got this huge deficit. And I think Obama and Biden are the people to straighten it out. Certainly, John McCain is not.

CAVUTO: Are you surprised that he's not doing better in the polls?

DUKAKIS: No, because he has been the subject of the same kind of Republican attack campaign that went after me and went after Kerry.

CAVUTO: But, even before the Republican attack, he just doesn't seem to gel.


DUKAKIS: No, this is — this started weeks and weeks ago.

But we know what is coming.


CAVUTO: Sometimes, it's of our own making, Governor.

DUKAKIS: No, not this time.

CAVUTO: Really?

DUKAKIS: I mean, this is — hey, look what McCain did.

Remember John McCain, the guys that was going to run that high-level campaign? The first thing he does is get himself a Karl Rove acolyte to run his campaign.


CAVUTO: So, it's not Obama botching it? It's everyone else?

DUKAKIS: No, I'm just saying that these attacks hurt at the beginning, and then, once you get going — we're not going to let this happen again.


CAVUTO: Governor Dukakis, great seeing you.

DUKAKIS: A pleasure.

CAVUTO: Very good seeing you.


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