Cheney vs. Edwards

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 6, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY HOST:  In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, there's no question that John Kerry's studied the match-up between John Edwards and Dick Cheney (search) before he made his vice presidential decision.  And joining us now from Washington is Fox News political analyst Newt Gingrich, who is also evaluating these men.  Newt's newest book is "Grant Comes East", the second in — I guess there's going to be a trilogy, right, Mr. Speaker...

NEWT GINGRICH, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST:  It looks like.  We are still arguing whether it's three or four, but...


GINGRICH:  ... it's somewhere in that zone.

O'REILLY:  If any of you are a civil war buff, it's very interesting read.  All right, now, Edwards is a good guy, right?  I mean I think that was the smartest choice he could have made.  We predicted it would happen.

GINGRICH:  Yes, I'm not sure it was the smartest choice.  I think somebody like Evan Bayh (search) from the Midwest would have been a better choice because Edwards you know was ranked fourth in liberalism in the Senate, where Kerry was ranked first in liberalism last year by The National Journal (search ).  It's not much of a move towards the senator to go from number one in liberalism to number four.

In addition, I don't think Edwards can bring any southern state.  I think it's very unlikely that he will carry North Carolina or South Carolina or any of the places you would hope for if you're the Democrats.  But the Midwest really is I think in play and a Midwesterner Democrat I think might have done better for the ticket.

O'REILLY:  But here's why they didn't do it in my opinion.  The election is so polarized now.  It's much more polarized than other elections in our lifetime I believe.  And it — there are just a few people that's going to take to swing it.  And you've got Florida, you've got Ohio, and you've got Pennsylvania.  I think Kerry believes that Edwards is such a good campaigner and will attract women and younger people.  And he stacks up well against Dick Cheney in debates and comparisons there that he thinks he's going to get independence over.  I think that's the thinking here.

GINGRICH:  Well that could be the thinking, but it strikes me if you have two lawyers on the ticket campaigning in favor of the right for trial lawyers to sue more often and you have two liberals on the ticket, that may make liberals happy and it may make trial lawyers happy but it's a pretty narrow base to try to run the country...

O'REILLY:  But, do you really think most people are dialed into tort reform (search ) and liberalism or are they — you know and I point to Bill Clinton here.  It just seems that image has become more and more important in American politics...

GINGRICH :  Well but Bill, go back and look at Bill Clinton in 1992. He was a different Democrat.  He wanted to end welfare as we knew it. He campaigned much more as a centrist and took on the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. He worked very hard and I think he would argue he worked pretty successfully to move the Democratic Party away from being a liberal party.

O'REILLY:  All right.  So what I am hearing...


O'REILLY:  ... in your voice is that if you were running the campaign for the Bush/Cheney people, you would try to marginalize the Kerry/Edwards ticket as being way out of touch with America, way too far left?

GINGRICH:  I wouldn't try to marginalize them.  I'd try to say to the American people there's a very dramatic difference in what kind of judges they would choose, what kind of regulators they would choose, what kind of foreign policy they would follow, what kind of tax policy they would follow and that's a different — an honorable difference.  They represent the liberal wing of American life, very aggressively and enthusiastically.  And I think that you know before he decided to run for president, it was generally conceded that Edwards either couldn't be re-elected in North Carolina or would have a very, very hard campaign because he had been so liberal by North Carolina standards.

And I think that as you look at how they vote, if you look at what they speak about, these two guys represent the most liberal wing in American society.  Only Howard Dean's stunning commitment to left wing pacifism made them ever look like they were moderates.  And so that's not — you know I don't think it's polarizing to tell the truth about somebody.


GINGRICH:  It's their voting record.

O'REILLY:  But again style over substance is the name of the game these days in America.  And I think that Edwards does bring energy and vibrance and to match him up against Dick Cheney, who comes across — I think Cheney's a very smart guy, by the way.  I mean he's very smart.  But he is not gregarious or outgoing.  And I think that's what they're — the Democrats are going to say, look, you know we're just much more accessible.

GINGRICH:  Well, let me put it to you this way, Bill.  If politics is essentially a vaudeville act for entertainment, then Edwards may be a very good choice because he'll be more entertaining.  If politics is the serious decision by adults about where their country is going to go, then Dick Cheney will be a dramatically better choice because...

O'REILLY:  Yes, but what do you think it is Mr. Speaker?

GINGRICH:  ... he's a much more serious person.

O'REILLY:  What do you think it is?

GINGRICH:  ... we won the contract with America arguing about big ideas.  We didn't do it putting on a vaudeville show...

O'REILLY:  You actually think a dopey movie like Michael Moore's grosses 60 million in two weeks and there's not a shred of truth to the whole thing...


O'REILLY:  Come on, we're living in an age of hype here.

GINGRICH:  No, we're living in an age of polarization where if you're a liberal who hates George W. Bush and you want to be reassured that it's better to be Jacques Chirac's close friend and to have a pro-French foreign policy, Michael Moore gave you the perfect evening. You go out, you get to eat popcorn and hate George Bush.  I think that's a sign Michael Moore (search) is quite clever as a marketer...


GINGRICH:  ... but my hunch is that very few people walk into a Michael Moore movie confused about how they're going to vote.

O'REILLY:  No, that's true.  Did you get your boycott France bumper sticker yet?

GINGRICH:  No, I have not gotten one yet.  Look, I think that Jacques Chirac may be the most anti-American president...


GINGRICH:  ... France has had actually since...


GINGRICH:  ... in the Vichy period.

O'REILLY:  That's what my column is this week.  And I give the examples.  We just run them down.

All right, let's get back to the election here.  Razor thin, Kerry will get a bump this week, go ahead.  But it looks to me like George W. Bush is going to lay low until the last five weeks of the campaign to see how the Iraq situation goes, try to parallel the Saddam trial with his sprint at the end.  I think that's the strategy.  You're not going to hear much from the president this summer.  Do you see it that way?

GINGRICH:  Yes, I think the president understands that people can get very tired if you're in their face every day on television.  And my guess is that they plan to start with the acceptance speech at the convention and then build from that point all the way to the election.  And to some extent they would like to let Kerry and Edwards lay out their case first so that they can then in effect take it apart and design the campaign as a counterpoint.

I think it's not an irrational strategy and if the new Iraqi interim government really takes hold, if the economy continues to do better and if people look at the Saddam trial and ask themselves, was John Kerry really right today to say that we somehow would have been better off not to have fought that war, would we really have been better off in a world where Saddam was back in power as a dictator, I think the trial makes it very hard to argue...

O'REILLY:  Yes, the trial is a good thing for the Bush administration, if all hell doesn't break loose over there.  Last question real fast...

GINGRICH:  That's right.

O'REILLY:  The Republicans trotted out John McCain (search) today, saying — try to hit John Kerry with John McCain.  I thought it was kind of dopey myself.  What did you think?

GINGRICH:  Well, I think that there's a big gap between John McCain and Edwards in terms of values. But it tells you a little bit about I think Kerry, that he's comfortable — he claims he would have been comfortable with either guy as vice president.  McCain will I think come back to bite Kerry a little bit because Kerry overdid how much he wished McCain had been his vice presidential candidate.  And that increased the value of McCain endorsing Bush.

O'REILLY:  All right, one more thing real fast.  Hillary, was she ever in the running for the vice president?

GINGRICH:  Never, never.  She never accepted.  She intends to run for president in her own right at some point, probably in 2008 if Kerry loses.

O'REILLY:  OK.  Mr. Speaker, thanks very much.  As always, we appreciate it.

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