Trail Dust: Hot Rhetoric

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys," May 29, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: John Kerry (search) and the hot rhetoric on the left is the topic of this week's trail dust. Whether it's Ted Kennedy (search) saying the U.S. is taking over where Saddam Hussein left off in Abu Ghraib (search) prison's torture chambers, or Nancy Pelosi saying President Bush's incompetence and lack of knowledge in Iraq are costing American lives, the increasingly shrill rhetoric by the left is putting John Kerry in an awkward position.

And now this red-faced tirade by Al Gore this week.


AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: He has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world. He promised to restore honor and integrity to the White House. Instead he has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest president since Richard M. Nixon.


He was just warming up there. Gore got a little more exercised ... during other parts of the speech. He was, he was pretty calm there.

Look, the truth is, what used to be the heart, harsh, maybe even hate speech of the political left has now been adopted as mainstream, you know, attack points against President Bush by members of the Democratic Party. It's been that sort of language and rhetoric has been mainstream. I think we first saw it start in the presidential primaries ... in all those debates and the stuff they'd say about Bush.

You know, Kerry a couple times has criticized Bush's Christianity. A number of Democrats, including Kerry, have called Bush unpatriotic. And on from there. I, and one, others in the Democratic Party have not repudiated this sort of speech, and the press has not treated it as excessive or out of line in any way.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Yes. You know, I think that, that that Gore speech, which, which at times was revealed him to be a demagogue, frankly, and, and perhaps even unhinged, offers the, the Republican Party or some Republican group a tremendous opportunity. You take, you take Gore at his most hysterical and run it as part of an ad, and then you say something to the effect that, This is the man that the Democrats nominated for president the last time. Can you imagine him keeping his cool in a crisis?

The, you know, so this man almost became president of the United States. Can you trust the Democratic Party to nominate wisely this time? I mean, I think that would be an effective ad.

BARNES: Mort, I think you have a new career as a Republican media consultant.

KONDRACKE: Thank you, no.

On to the battleground polls. Pollster John Zogby has new numbers in 16 battleground states. And John Kerry leads in 12 of them. Here's a snapshot of the results.

Kerry leads in Florida, Michigan, and Minnesota. Kerry picks up Florida while Bush picks up Iowa.

And this next batch, Kerry has leads in these states. He picks up Missouri, Nevada, and New Hampshire and Ohio, all states that Bush won in 2000.

And in this list, Kerry is leading in Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin. Bush leads in Tennessee. Neither candidate picks up any states here.

BARNES: Well, I wonder about those polls. But, you know, we're going with what's out there, and Zogby's a, you know, a well-respected pollster.

Anyway, so according to this new batch of polls, Kerry now leads our electoral scoreboard for the first time. Kerry has 320 electoral votes to Bush's 218. That's quite a margin. I don't think it's really that big. But I think Kerry's ahead. If the election were held today, I think Kerry would win. All right.

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