A product of The Note
Guests: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe; roundtable: George Will, Fareed Zakaria, and Ron Brownstein
After opening with a discussion of the possible political implications of the Osama bin Laden tape, the heads of the two major political parties geared up for Election Day, talking about their respective field operations and ballot watch.
Frist and Pelosi went a few rounds over the Osama bin Laden tape, with him saying that it's absurd to assert that America is less safe than it was at the beginning of the war on terror, and her saying that Osama bin Laden remains at large. Frist also accused Kerry of denigrating the troops when he accuses the Bush Administration of failing in Tora Bora, saying it's a repeat of his post-Vietnam war activities.
After viewing a clip of Peter Jennings' interview with Sen. Kerry discussing Kerry's health care plan, Frist said the GOP would not be able to embrace it.
Responding to the latest ABC News tracking poll showing more voters saying they expect Bush to win, McAuliffe talked up the Democratic field operation; Gillespie pointed to the Newsweek poll and others that show Bush in the lead.
The two discussed early voting, with Gillespie casting the Democrats as the har, focused on early voting, and the Republicans as the tortoise, focused on Election Day and incremental strategy McAuliffe talked up the early turnout.
Turning to ballot watch, Gillespie called Ohio an example of massive registration fraud, and McAuliffe countered by pulling a flyer out of his jacket (and later handing it to Gillespie), saying it was an example of letters distributed in African-American neighborhoods warning voters that they will not be able to vote if they were registered by the NAACP or the Kerry campaign. Gillespie pointed to President Bush's increase in support among African-American voters, according to a recent poll.
As for the Dem lawyer corps on the ground, Gillespie said that that when Kerry loses the Bush campaign will declare victory and the Democrats will deploy lawyers. He said he thinks the President is going to win legitimately by such a large margin that the Democrats won't be able to contest legally.
Guests: Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE), former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani; political analysts Charlie Cook, Peter Hart and Bill McInturff
Kerrey addressed a wide range of issues, first saying that neither Kerry nor Bush has stepped up to the problems of Social Security, and agreed with a Concord Coalition assessment (he's a co-chair) that Bush and Kerry both lack credibility on fiscal responsibility. He turned most of his fire on Bush -- particularly his first-year tax cut which was designed to get rid of the surplus and undermined Bush's ability to do something about Social Security – the one 2000 campaign promise that Bob Kerrey was really excited about.
Kerrey played tough on the Osama bin Laden tape, very critical of the President and his approach to the war on terror: "The President came up here said I'm going to track these guys down and make him pay and we all rallied to him and one of the things Americans should understand is the threat of Osama Bin Laden has been substantially reduced as a result of the war but he's still alive."
He then looked at the role Vietnam has played in this campaign, asking what signal does it send for Bush and Cheney, who didn't serve in Vietnam, not to condemn the Swift Boat ads. Kerrey said it is a terrible message to young men and women who are trying to decide if to fight in a controversial war in Iraq because it tells them that if they one day want to run for public office, it will be used against them.
For his part, Giuliani said bin Laden has no interest in who wins the election, but he definitely has an interest in who loses -- which is why he criticized President Bush.
When shown the "Today" video of himself criticizing the troops for not finding weapons in al Qaqaa, Giuliani burst into laughter and said that he was referring to the way Kerry views things and that if he didn't make it clear then he wants to make that clear now.
Giuliani alleged that Kerry's "blaming of the troops" for the missing explosives in Iraq was similar to his "blaming of the troops" in Vietnam -- a talking point that Frist shared on "This Week."
Guests: Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.); and Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute
Biden offered Electoral College predictions and tried to tamp down Cabinet speculation, while McCain focused on Iraq and the war on terror.
Biden, who has been to Pennsylvania and Florida, to CBS' Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation" on Kerry's Electoral College math: "I'm willing to bet you on the air that Kerry will win Pennsylvania. I'm not all that certain about Florida … I don't know about Ohio not having been there."
Biden then said that if Kerry wins one of either Florida or Ohio, he will be the next President of the United States, because he is going to win Pennsylvania.
He also batted down reports that he has been asked to be Kerry's Secretary of State. He said there has been "no discussion of Secretary of State with John or his campaign." Asked if he would like to be in a Kerry's Cabinet, Biden said, "Let's get him elected first and we'll worry about that later."
McCain said at the beginning of the Iraq War, "We probably should have had more troops," but added that the beginning phase was a spectacular success that caught everyone by surprise. "We have more troops there now," and the important thing is that Iraq have elections and a government it can support.
He also chided Kerry again for his vote on the $87 billion supplemental funding request for Iraq and Afghanistan, saying: "I disagreed with the $87 billion vote when John Kerry voted against funding after authorizing the issue on the war in Iraq. I could only view that as politically motivated."
In his end of the show commentary, CBS' Bob Schieffer took on Osama Bin Laden, telling him "you lose" and saying: "Spare us the videotape and the advice. We've got some voting to do."