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Barnes and... A Conversation with Charlie Cook

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HELLO, AGAIN, EVERYONE. THANKS FOR JOINING US. CHARLIE COOK IS BACK IN TOWN, OF THE NATIONAL JOURNAL, ET CETERA, ET CETERA. WELCOME.

THANK YOU. GLAD YOU BROUGHT ME BACK.

ALWAYS A PLEASURE. YOU GOING TO MAKE IT TO COLUMBIA COUNTY?

I WILL BE GOING THROUGH. THIS TRIP I WON'T BE SEEING RELATIVES. A LOT OF TIMES WE DO. MY PARENTS ARE FROM THERE AND OUR FAMILIES. I WAS THE BLACK SHEEP. I WENT UP NORTH AND FLEW AWAY.

LET'S START, IF WE CAN. WE HAVE AN ELECTION COMING UP. WE'RE A COUPLE MONTHS AWAY, NOW. WHAT'S THE OUTLOOK? CONGRESSIONAL.

YOU KNOW, MOST MID-TERM ELECTIONS ARE PRETTY RUNOFFO THE MILL, NOT A LOT OF SURPRISES OR MAJOR CHANGES. ONE OUT OF EVERY FIVE MID-TERM ELECTIONS YOU SEE A TIDAL WAVE COME THROUGH. THE LAST IS 1994, THE GINGRICH TIDAL WAVE ELECTION. WE'RE SEEING A LOT OF SIGNS WE'LL SEE ONE OF THOSE IN THIS ELECTION. THE QUESTIONS, DO YOU THINK THE COUNTRY IS RUNNING ON THE RIGHT TRACK, TYPICALLY HIGH 20s FOR ON THE RIGHT TRACK, 60s FOR THE WRONG TRACK, THE PRESIDENT'S JOB APPROVAL THE 39, WHERE PRESIDENT CLINTON'S WAS AT THIS POINT 1994 BEFORE DEMOCRATS GOT WIPED OUT IN THAT 1994 MID-TERM ELECTION. IF YOU ASK THE ELECTORAL HOW WOULD YOU VOTE FOR THE DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN OR REPUBLICAN, THE DEMOCRATS HAVE A HEALTHY LEAD. ALL THE MACRO DIAGNOSTIC INDICATORS SAY THERE'S A GOOD WAVE OUT THERE. WHEN WE LOOK AT INDIVIDUAL RACES FOR THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE, IT'S LOOKING PRETTY TOUGH FOR REPUBLICANS. TODAY, I THINK WE'RE ON A TRAJECTORIRY TO DEMOCRATS WINNING THE HOUSE. COULD SOMETHING HAPPEN IN THE LAST 75 DAYS TO CHANGE THAT? YEAH, BUT I THINK IF THE ELECTION WERE HELD TODAY, THEY'D LOSE THE HOUSE AND REPUBLICANS WOULD LOSE 3 TO 5 SEATS IN THE SENATE AND COULD LOSE 6 WHICH WOULD BE A MAJORITY TURNOVER.

YOUR PHRASE IS "TIDAL WAVE."

NO, THERE AREN'T ANY INDICATORS TO SUGGEST THIS ISN'T, PROPORTIONATELY SPEAKING, AS BIG AS 1994. CAN REPUBLICANS LOSE 52 SEATS LIKE DEMOCRATS DID THEN? NO. BUT YOU DON'T HAVE THE RETIREMENTS AND QUITE AS MANY COMPETITIVE RACES AS YOU DID THEN. THERE ARE A WIDE VARIETY OF REASONS, SO THE SEAT LOSSES WON'T BE THAT LARGE, BUT THE WAVE IS REALLY JUST AS BIG.

IS THERE A COMMON DENOMINATOR?

I THINK IT'S 70, 80% OF IT THE WAR IN IRAQ, AND THEN THE OTHER 20 OR 30% IS JUST A WHOLE BUNCH OF THINGS. IT'S A LITTLE BIT OF SORT OF COMPETENT/HURRICANE KATRINA. A LITTLE BIT OVER PEOPLE UPSET OVER BUDGET DEFICITS, A LITTLE BIT OF STEM CELL. A WHOLE BUNCH OF THINGS. THROW IN A FEW SCANDALS, IT'S AMISH A MISH MASH. YOU HAVE THE WAR IN IRAQ WHO SOME PEOPLE SUPPORTED AND THEN SOME PEOPLE WHO TURNED AGAINST IT AND FORGOT THEY WERE EVER FOR IT. THEN YOU HAVE FOLKS SUPPORTIVE OF THE WAR AS LONG AS THEY THINK WE HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN, BUT IF THEY DON'T THINK WE HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN, THEY SAY, WELL, HECK, LET'S GET OUT. THAT'S THE TEETERING GROUP. AND THE PEOPLE THAT THINK WE SHOULD HAVE DONE IT BUT HAVEN'T CONDUCTED IT VERY WELL. AND THAT ADDS UP TO ABOUT 60-ODD% OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. THAT'S A HUGE PROBLEM.

IN TALKING TO VOTERS AT THE LAST ELECTION, WHAT -- AND I SUSPECT YOU DID, TOO -- I FOUND A GREAT MANY VOTERS WERE DRAWING A LINE -- MR. BUSH WON, ANYWAY, BUT A GREAT MANY VOTERS WERE DRAWING A LINE ON THE WAR ON TERROR AND THE WAR IN IRAQ. HAS THAT LINE MOVED?

ABSOLUTELY. THE PROPORTION OF PEOPLE WHO CONSIDER THE WAR IN IRAQ TO BE CENTRAL TO THE WAR ON TERROR HAS JUST DROPPED, DROPPED, DROPPED WELL BELOW 50%, NOW. THEY DON'T SEE THE LINKAGE THERE, AND THEY SEE THE WAR ON TERROR CONTINUING, AND THE WAR IN IRAQ NOT REALLY AFFECTING IT, OTHER THAN COSTING US A LOT OF MONEY AND TAKING US AND PULLING US A DIFFERENT DIRECTION. SO I THINK THAT'S HURT. I THINK IT ALSO HELPS -- OR HURTS THE PRESIDENT NOT HAVING A JOHN KERRY. I MEAN, KERR REWAS -- KERRY WAS SO SUSPECT IN A LOT OF VOTERS' MINDS THAT HE WAS A HELPFUL FOIL FOR THE PRESIDENT TO PLAY OFF OF, AND NOT HAVING AN OPPONENT HAS ALMOST BEEN WORSE FOR THE PRESIDENT.

LEAP FORWARD, IF YOU CAN, TO -- WELL, THE FIRST WEDNESDAY IN NOVEMBER.

YOU MEAN THE FIRST DAY OF THE 2008 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN?

WELL, THE FIRST DAY AFTER --

YEAH.

WHETHER IT'S TIDALLE WAVE OR SOMETHING LESS THAN THAT, WHAT IS THIS SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES? THERE COULD BE A SIGNIFICANT CHANGE, BUT WHAT DOES THIS SAY FOR THE FINAL TWO YEARS OF MR. BUSH'S TERM?

I THINK IT WILL BE A VERY TOUGH TWO YEARS. THE LAST TWO YEARS FOR ANYBODY IS GENERALLY BAD BECAUSE YOU'RE A LAME DUCK. THE LOWER YOUR POLL NUMBERS ARE, THE LOWER YOU ARE AS PRESIDENT. REPUBLICANS HAVE A MAJORITY OF 15 SEATS IN THE HOUSE, UNDER THE BEST POSSIBLE SCENARIO, THEY HAVE A MAJORITY OF FIVE OR TEN, AND MORE LIKELY THAN NOT AS OF NOW, THEY COULD LOSE THEIR MAJORITY. IN THE SENATE, THEY HAVE 55 SEATS. THE BEST-CASE SCENARIO FOR REPUBLICANS, THEY DROP TO 51 OR 52. THEY HAVE TOTAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR GOVERNORRENNING AND DON'T REALLY HAVE THE AUTHORITY OR CAPABILITY TO DO ANYTHING. AND, SO, I THINK THAT'S THE WORST CASE SCENARIO FOR REPUBLICANS IF THEY ACTUALLY DO HOLD ON TO MAJORITIES, BUT NOT MAJORITIES THAT THEY CAN DO ANYTHING. TO BE HONEST, I THINK REPUBLICANS ARE BETTER OFF IF THEY WERE TO LOSE -- JUST BARELY -- BUT LOSE THE MAJORITY, LET'S SAY IN THE HOUSE, SO THAT THEY CAN BLAME DEMOCRATS FOR INACTION, SO THAT THEY'RE NOT HELD TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE AND TOTALLY ACCOUNTABLE FOR EVERYTHING AND, FRANKLY, DEMOCRATS WON'T HAVE A MAJORITY TO DO MUCH BESIDES RAISE MINIMUM WAGE, ANYWAY. SO IF I WERE A DEMOCRAT, FRANKLY, I WOULD ALMOST WANT TO COME CLOSE BUT NOT WIN, AND IF I WERE A REPUBLICAN, I WOULDN'T MIND LOSING SOMETHING. BECAUSE IF REPUBLICANS HOLD ONTO EVERYTHING, I THINK IT COULD BE A REALLY, REALLY HORRIBLE ELECTION FOR THEM AND I THINK THE REPUBLICAN CHANCES OF HOLDING ONTO THE PRESIDENCY ARE BETTER IF THEY LOSE SOMETHING NOW THAN NOT. I WOULD SAY PRESIDENT CLINTON'S REELECTION CHANCES WENT UP ENORMOUSLY IN RETROSPECT WHEN DEMOCRATS LOST CONTROL OF CONGRESS IN '94. YOU KNOW, IT GAVE HIM SOMEBODY TO RUN AGAINST, A FOIL, AS I SAID. HE RAN AGAINST THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS --

THEY COOPERATED NICELY WITH HIM.

WELL, YES, IN A PERVERSE WAY, YES. ANYWAY, BUT I THINK IT'S GOING TO BE A TOUGH TWO YEARS FOR ANYBODY UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES.

MR. BUSH DID NOT HAVE A KERRY THIS LAST TIME, BUT HE HAD AN ALLY IN MR. LIEBERMAN IN CONNECTICUT. HE MAY NOT. I MEAN, HE MAY, WITH --

I ACTUALLY THINK LIEBERMAN'S GOING TO WIN.

HE MAY. BUT WHAT DOES THAT SUGGEST ABOUT THE INTERNAL CHEMISTRY OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY?

WELL, I'M NOT SURE HOW MUCH IT SAYS BECAUSE IT'S SUCH AN ODD SITUATION TO HAVE A MODERATE -- RELATIVELY MODERATE DEMOCRATIC SENATOR FROM NEW ENGLAND. I MEAN, YOU COULD PICK -- FIRST OF ALL, YOU COULD PICK JOE LIEBERMAN'S VOTING RECORD UP, DROP HIM IN ARKANSAS, AND HE WOULD BE VERY LIBERAL BY SOUTHERN STANDARDS, BY ROCKY MOUNTAIN STANDARDS, BY MOST STANDARDS OF THE OTHER PARTS OF THE COUNTRY, LIEBERMAN WOULD BE FAIRLY LIBERAL. HE WOULD NOT BE FACING THIS CHALLENGE IF HE WERE ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE COUNTRY. SO HAVING A MODERATE DEMOCRAT FROM UP THERE IS PRETTY -- IT DOESN'T APPLY NATIONWIDE. SECONDLY, JOE LIEBERMAN VOTES 90% OF THE TIME WITH THE DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY. THERE ARE HIGH PROFILE VOTES, IRAQ, TERRY SCHIAVO. BUT MOST OF THE TIME HE VOTES WITH DEMOCRATS. THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE TIME. SO, FRANKLY, MI HYUNCH IS THAT HE WILL WIN REELECTION AND BE WELCOMED BACK INTO THE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS, HAVE LUNCH ON TUESDAY WITH THE SENATORS, HAVE ASSIGNMENTS, AND ALL WILL BE SORT OF PRETTY MUCH FORGIVEN.

THE PERCEPTION, ANYWAY, THOUGH, IS THAT THE PRIMARY LINKED ON ONE ISSUE, AND THAT WAS THE WAR.

YEAH, SURE. AND THE THING, IS THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE THAT VOTED THAT WAY, BUT MOST OF THEM SORT OF HENLD. I THINK PART OF LIEBERMAN'S PROBLEMS WAS THAT -- IT WASN'T THE VOTE AS MUCH AS HOW VOCALLE HE WAS STANDING WITH THE PRESIDENT AS MUCH AS HE DID AND JUST SORT OF NOT BACKING OFF. BUT I WOULDN'T OVERLOOK, THOUGH, THE COMBINATION OF -- YOU KNOW, KEEPING IN MIND NEW ENGLAND -- THE COMBINATION OF THE WAR AND A TERRY SCHIAVO VOTE, WHERE HE VOTED WITH THE PRESIDENT ON THAT ONE. THAT'S KIND OF LIKE IN A LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY, THAT'S LIKE NITROGLYCERIN. IT WOULD BE NO BIG DEAL HERE OR A LOT OF PLACES IN THE COUNTRY, BUT NEW ENGLAND, THAT WAS PRETTY TOUGH. ALSO, JOE HASN'T BEEN GOING BACK HOME AS MUCH AS HE SHOULD HAVE IN THE LAST SIX OR EIGHT YEARS, AND HIS OWN CAMPAIGN PEOPLE WILL TELL YOU THAT'S KIND OF A PROBLEM.

PENCIL'S A LITTLE RUSTY.

YEAH. HERE'S AN EXAMPLE. I READ SOMEWHERE -- I WISH I HAD THE STATISTICS, STILL -- THAT DURING THE EIGHT YEARS BILL CLINTON WAS PRESIDENT, HE CAME BACK TO ARKANSAS FOR 20-SOMETHING NON-FAMILY FUNERALS, BUT THAT DURING THE SAME EIGHT YEARS, ALGOER AL GORE -- AL GORE WENT BACK TO TENNESSEE 23 AND 24. FOR SENATORS, THERE ARE SENATORS WHO WORK THEIR STATES HARD EVEN IF THEY'RE NOT UP FOR REELECTION, AND SOME JUST COAST ALONG. PARTICULARLY AFTER BEING ON THE TICKET IN 2000, I THINK LIEBERMAN DIDN'T FEEL LIKE HE HAD TO GO BACK AND BALANCE AS MUCH AS YOU NEED TO.

MR. FULBRIGHT COMES TO MIND.

IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE ANYWHERE. OR IF YOU JUST COME HOME AND NOT JUST SEE YOUR FRIENDS AND HANG OUT AND NOT WORK THE STATE.

MR. PRYOR IS WORKING THE STATE PRETTY WELL IN THE FASHION OF HIS DAD. BUT HE HAS COME TO SOME NATIONAL ATTENTION FOR ANOTHER REASON, ONE OF WHICH IS HIS ENDORSEMENT WITH MR. LIEBERMAN. HE'S STICKING WITH HIS PAL, JOE LIEBERMAN IN CONNECTICUT, EVEN THOUGH HIS PAL LOST THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY. MR. PRYOR IS CO-CHAIR OF THE CAMPAIGN TODAY.

THIS ISN'T AS BIG A PROBLEM AS YOU THINK. YOU KNOW WHO JOE LIEBERMAN'S NEW CAMPAIGN MANAGER IS? THE ORIGINAL SENATE CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR THE CURRENT CHAIRMAN OF THE DEMOCRATIC SNO IS THAT  -- SENATETORIAL CAM PAIN CHAIRMAN. THIS IS KIND OF A WINK AND A NOD. YOU WILL -- WHEN JOE -- IF JOE LIEBERMAN IS REELECTED, AND I THINK HE WILL BE -- YOU WILL SEE HIM WALK INTO THE FIRST CAUCUS LUNCHEON AND SOMEBODY WILL BE SITTING ON HIS RIGHT AND LEFT. HE WON'T BE SITTING BY HIMSELF. MY GUESS IS YOU WOULDN'T KNOW ANYTHING HAPPENED.

BUT YOU HAVE A DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE PRODUCED BY THE PRIMARY PROCESS UP THERE IN CONNECTICUT, AND HE'S FEELING A LITTLE --

OH, YEAH, IN THE STATE IT'S AWKWARD AS HECK. FOR CHRIS DODD, HIS COLLEAGUE, IT'S ACHE WARD AS HECK. I KNOW THERE ARE DEMOCRATIC SENATORS WHO SEE HIM AS A GRENADE THROWER. JOHN KERRY WAS SOMEONE A DEMOCRATIC SENATOR DIDN'T WANT TO VOTE ON. SOMETIMES WHEN YOU GET SOMEBODY WHO WILL MAKE HIS COLLEAGUES WALK THE PLANK ON VOTES THAT THEY'D RATHER NOT DO, YOU'D RATHER NOT HAVE THEM THERE. THERE ARE QUITE A FEW DEMOCRATIC SENATORS THAT JOE LEEBMAN NEVER MADE THEM WALK A PLANK ON ANYTHING, AND THEY'D RATHER HAVE LIEBERMAN THERE THAN LAMONT AND IT WON'T AFFECT THE RATIOS IN THE SENATE.

OKAY. NOW IT'S WEDNESDAY AFTER MID-TERMS AND IT REALLY BEGAN, I GUESS, WHEN MR. BUSH TOOK THE OATH FOR THE FIRST TERM. WHAT DO YOU SEE HAPPENING? PRETTY EARLY, BUT WHAT DO YOU SEE HAPPENING?

I THINK THINGS HAVE CHANGED ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE ENORMOUSLY. A YEAR AGO, I WOULD HAVE SAID, YOU KNOW, REPUBLICANS ARE GOING TO NOMINATE A STAUNCH CONSERVATIVE, SORT OF SOMEONE ACCEPTABLE TO THE ESTABLISHMENT, SOMEONE WHO LOOKS A LOT LIKE PEOPLE THEY'VE NOMINATED BEFORE. AND FRANKLY, AT THE TIME, I WAS THINKING GEORGE ALLEN. A FRIEND OF MINE WROTE A PROFILE OF ALLEN THAT SAID IF YOU PUT RANGENNED AND BUSH IN A BLENDER YOU WOULD GET GEORGE ALLEN, AN UPBEAT, COWBOY, FRAT BOY JOCK TYPE ALL AT THE SAME TIME. BUT AS PRESIDENT BUSH'S NUMBERS HAVE GONE DOWN THE REPUBLICANS NOMINATING SOMEONE WHO IS A WHOLE LOT LIKE PRESIDENT BUSH HAS GONE DOWN AND THEIR LIKELIHOOD OF GOING WITH A CHANGE-ORIENTED CANDIDATE HAS GONE UP. SO TODAY I THINK ALLEN'S CHAPS HAVE -- CHANCES HAVE DROPPED A LOT AND THIS IS THE PRIMARY REASON. I WOULD SAY IT'S MUCH MORE LIKELY -- A 60, 65% CHANCE -- THAT JOHN McCAIN WILL BE THE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE. I WOULD NOT HAVE SAID THAT A YEAR AGO. I WOULD SAY, IN SECOND PLACE, I WOULD SAY MITT ROMNEY, THE GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS. AND IF I HAD NO REACH DOWN FOR A REALLY DISTANT THIRD, I KNOW IT SOUNDS NUTTY, BUT I WOULD EVEN PROBABLY THROW NEWT GINGRICH INTO THE MIX. BUT IT WILL BE A CHANGE ORIENTED CANDIDATE NOT A CONVENTIONAL RUN-OF-THE-MILL CONSERVATIVE, BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE A SURE RECIPE FOR DISASTER. ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE, IT COMES DOWN TO IF HILLARY CLINTON CAN CONVINCE THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY SHE CAN WIN A GENERAL ELECTION, SHE WILL BE THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE, AND IF SHE CAN'T, SHE WON'T BE. 100% OF DEMOCRATS KNOW HER. 100% HAVE AN OPINION OF HER. 80% OF DEMOCRATS HAVE A FAVORABLE OPINION OF HER. GENERALLY SPEAKING, SHE ONLY GETS 35%, 37% OF THE DEMOCRATIC VOTE, TND CATCH IS THEY HAVE TO BE CONVINCED SHE CAN WIN. SO I LOOK AT IT LIKE TWO NCAA BASKETBALL BRACKETS, ONE BRACKET IS THE HILLARY CLINTON BRACKET, THE ONLY NAME IN IT AND GOES ALL THE WAY TO THE FINALS. THE OTHER BRACKET IS MARK WARNER, JOHN KERRY, BILL RICHARD RICHARDSON, TOM VILSACK AND JOE BIDEN, MISSING A COUPLE OFTHERS, WILL BE COMPETING WITH EACH OTHER TO SEE WHO WILL BE THE ALTERNATIVE TO HILLARY CLINTER AND IF SHE'S SUCCESSFUL AT CONVINCING THE PARTY SHE CAN WIN WILL BE THE NOMINEE AND IF NOT THE ONE IN THE OTHER BRACKET WILL BE THE NOMINEE. IF HILLARY CLINTON IS THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE IN 2008, DO YOU THINK SHE WOULD HAVE AS GOOD A CHANCE AS ANY OTHER DEMOCRAT AT WINNING OR DO YOU WORRY SHE CAN'T WIN THE GENERAL ELECTION? 47% SAID SHE WOULD HAVE AS GOOD A CHANCE AS ANYBODY. 46% SAID THEY'RE WORRIED SHE CAN'T WIN. SO SHE HAS TO CLOSE THE SALE ON ELECTABILITY. IF HE CAN, SHE'S NOMINEE. IF NOT, SHE WON'T BE.

YOU MENTIONED MR. McCAIN. HE'S EDGED TO THE RIGHT. HE'S OFFERING SOME OLIVE BRANCHES TO HIS RIGHT. HOW FAR RIGHT DOES A REPUBLICAN NOMINEE HAVE TO BE?

I THINK THAT McCAIN IS INVESTIGATE CALIBRATE HIMSELF VERY CAREFULLY. HE'S NEVER BEEN A TEAM PLAYER, BUT HE'S TRYING TO BECOME A TEAM PLAYER. HE NEEDS TO BE PERCEIVED AS SOMEONE WHO'S GOING TO BE A LOYAL REPUBLICAN BUT, AT THE SAME TIME, HE KNOWS THAT, THOUGH HE'S BEEN ENTIRELY SUPPORTIVE -- JUST AS SUPPORTIVE OF THE WAR AS THE PRESIDENT, THAT HE NEEDS TO PUT A LITTLE BIT OF DAYLIGHT BETWEEN HIMSELF AND THE PRESIDENT. IN THIS WAY, WELL, I THINK WE SHOULD HAVE DONE IT A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY THOUGH I THINK WE SHOULD HAVE DONE IT, HE'S TRYING TO DO A FAIRLY NEW WANTED -- KNEW ANSWERED -- NUANCED WAY OF BEING LOYAL BUT NOT TOO LOYAL. IT'S AWKWARD GOING TO LIBERTY UNIVERSITY, JERRY FALWELL'S SCHOOL, AND SPEAKING THERE, BUT NOT DOING A PANDERING SPEECH. SO HE'S TRYING TO CALIBRATE IT VERY CAREFULLY. I THOUGHT THAT THE ONLY WAY McCAIN COULD WIN THE NOMINATION WOULD BE IF REPUBLICANS WERE CONVINCED HE IS THE ONLY PERSON WHO COULD BEAT HILLARYHILLARY CLINTON. THAT'S PART OF IT, BUT I THINK THERE'S A RECOGNITION IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY THAT AN OLD-FASHIONED CONSERVATIVE CAN'T WIN IN 2008, THAT THEY HAVE TO COME UP WITH A DIFFERENT RECIPE.

THERE CONTINUES TO BE A LITTLE BUZZ ABOUT MR. GIULIANI. ANY PROSPECT THERE?

I THINK THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE LIKE A BELL CURVE. YOU HAVE SOME WACKOS ON THE LEFT AND RIGHT, BUT MOST AMERICANS ARE BETWEEN THE TWO 30-YARD LINES, MAYBE MORE SLIGHTLY TO THE CENTER THAN THE LEFT. I THINK RUDY GIULIANI IS AT THE APEX, AT THE 50-YARD LINE OF AMERICAN POLITICS, BUT PUTS HIM ON THE 10-YARD LINE OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. WHILE HE'S EXTREMELY POPULAR AND IF HE CAME TO LITTLE ROCK TOMORROW OR ANY PART OF THE STATE, HE WOULD BE VERY, VERY WELL RECEIVED. BUT I THINK WHEN THE REPUBLICAN BASE STARTS FOCUSING ON PRO-CHOICE, ON THE ABORTION ISSUE, PRO GUN CONTROL -- AS MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY, PRO GAY RIGHTS -- IN A REPUBLICAN NOMINATION FIGHT, WOW, I DON'T THINK -- I'M NOT SURE IF YOU CAN GET A NOMINATION IF YOU WERE ONE OUT OF THREE, BUT THREE OUT OF THREE, ANYMORE THAN A PRO-LIFE, ANTI GUN CONTROL ANTI GAY RIGHTS CAN WIN THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION.

RALPH REED AND OTHERS ARE AP BY TO HAVE HIM RAISE MONEY, BUT IT STOPS THERE.

WELL, I WAS TALKING TO A CONSERVATIVE LEADER WHO WAS WITH A BUNCH OF EVANGELICAL LEADERS FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY, AND THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT GIULIANI AND ONE OF THEM -- ACTUALLY, I'M GOING A DIFFERENT DIRECTION. NEVERMIND. I THINK, WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO IT, THERE WILL BE REAL RESISTANCE, BUT RIGHT NOW HIS NUMBERS ARE GOOD.

MR. HUCKABEE PLAINLY RUNNING OR TRYING TO DECIDE WHETHER THE SOIL IS FERTILE ENOUGH. IS IT?

I THINK MIKE HUCKABEE HAS AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF RAW TALENT. I THINK HE'S GOT A PRETTY GOOD POLITICAL ANTENNA AND HE'S A TERRIFIC SPEAKER, AND I THINK HE'S GOT A CONSERVATIVE RECORD THAT DOESN'T COME ACROSS -- IT'S VERY CONSERVATIVE ON MOST ISSUES, BUT IT DOESN'T COME ACROSS AS SORT OF COLD AND MEAN-SPIRITED, THE WAY SOME CONSERVATIVES DO, SO I THINK HE HAS A LOT OF TALENT. I THINK THERE ARE TWO REASONS WHY I HAVE A VERY, VERY, VERY HARD TIME SEEING HIM WIN THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION. ONE THING IS I DON'T THINK HE CAN RAISE THE MONEY. YOU SAY, WELL, BILL CLINTON IS THE GOVERNOR OF ARKANSAS. HE RAISED MONEY. BILL CLINTON PUT HIS FUNDRAISING TOGETHER WHEN HE WENT TO BOYS HIGH SCHOOL. I DON'T SEE HUCKABEE HAVING THAT. THE SECOND THING IS, LAST SPRING, YOU HAD THE SOUTHERN REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE IN MEMPHIS, AND YOU HAD REPUBLICAN LEADERS FROM ALL OVER THE SOUTH AND ACTUALLY FROM A PRETTY BIG CHUNK OF THE MIDWEST, AND HUCKABEE GOT THERE AND GAVE A REALLY GOOD SPEECH. HIS SPEECH WAS JUST ABOUT AS GOOD AS ANYBODY ELSE, BUT BILL FRIST WENT OUT AND WIRED IT, HAD A BUNCH OF HIS PEOPLE THERE. MYTH ROMNEY -- MITT ROMNEY FROM MASSACHUSETTS, THEY TRUCKED IN A WHOLE BUNCH OF PEOPLE. HE SHOWED WELL. I COULDN'T TELL THAT THE HUCKABEE PEOPLE MADE THE SLIGHTEST EFFORT IN THE WORLD TO GET EVEN A CARLOAD OF PEOPLE OVER THERE. THE THING IS, WINNING ORGANIZATIONS, WINNING THE IOWA CAUCUS, FOR EXAMPLE, IT'S ABOUT ORGANIZATION.

CLINTON BLEW OFF IOWA IN '92.

THAT'S BECAUSE TOM HARKIN WAS FROM THERE.

FRIST IS FROM TENNESSEE.

FRIST IS NOT EVEN A VIABLE CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENCY. THE THING IS, FROM THE PEABODY HOTEL TO THE ARKANSAS STATE LINE, TWO MILES, MAX? THERE ISN'T AN EXCUSE IN THE WORLD WHILE MIKE HUCKABEE COULDN'T COME IN IN STRONG PLACE.

STATE HOUSE?

DEMOCRATS WILL PICK UP FIVE OR SIX AROUND THE COUNTRY. THAT'S A MEANINGLESS STATISTIC. IT'S EQUATING WYOMING AND CALIFORNIA. THIS ISN'T LIKE THE SENATE OR THE HOUSE WHERE WE HAVE SEATS. IN TERMS OF THE BIG STUFF, REPUBLICANS WILL HOLD ON. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER WILL GET REELECTED. TWO YEARS AGO DIDN'T LOOK LIKE HE WOULD. DEMOCRATS WILL PICK UP NEW YORK STATE. REPUBLICANS, I THINK L HOLD ONTO FLORIDA. DEMOCRATS WILL PROBABLY PICK UP OHIO. DEMOCRATS WILL PICK UP A FEW SEATS, BUT IT'S NOT -- DEMOCRATS COULD ACTUALLY LOSE AN INCUMBENT IN MICHIGAN, BUT DEMOCRATS WILL PICK UP SEATS THERE AS THEY WILL MOST PLACES.

YOU DON'T SEE AN ALTERNATE IN THE CALCULUS AT ALL IN THE NEAR, TERM? EVEN WITH THE BIG DEMOCRATIC PICK-UP?

DEMOCRATS WILL END UP WITH 27, 28 GOVERNORSHIPS OUT OF 50, WHICH NOW THEY'RE IN THE LOW 20s. BUT, YOU KNOW, AGAIN IT'S WHICH ONES, AND HAD THEY PICKED UP CALIFORNIA, IF THEY WERE TO PICK UP FLORIDA, THAT WOULD BE REAL FEATHERS IN THEIR CAP. BUT, FRANKLY, I DON'T THINK THEY WILL PICK UP CALIFORNIA OR FLORIDA, BUT THEY WILL GET, SAY, OHIO AND NEW YORK.

A COUPLE MINUTES REMAINING. THIS IS FROM YOUR -- YEAH, AUGUST 8th REPORT. AND YOU'RE TALKING -- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, BY THE WAY. YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THE IDEOLOGICAL DIVIDE BEING EVER MORE CONCRETE AND SEVERE. HAVING WHOLE REGIONS OF THE COUNTRY AS POLITICAL NO-FLY ZONES IS HARDLY HEALTHY FOR THE PARTIES OF THE COUNTRY. SO IT'S IDEOLOGICAL PURGING IS THE POLITICAL EQUIVALENT OF ETHNIC CLEANSING AND THE POLITICAL BASE AS WINNING MAJORITIES, AFTER A BRIEF DISCUSSION ON PART OF DYSFUNCTIONAL WASHINGTON. POLITICS AREN'T GETTING NICER AT ALL.

I CAME TO COLLEGE IN 197 #- AND YOU HAD A WHOLE LOT OF CONSERVATIVE MODERATES IN CONGRESS THAT WOULD KEEP THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY FROM LURCHING INTO A DITCH ON THE LEFT-HAND SIDE. YOU HAD MODERATE REPUBLICANS THAT KEPT THE REPUBLICAN FROM LURCHING OFF IN A DITCH TO THE RIGHTHAND SIDE, AND YOU HAD MEMBERS THAT KNEW EACH OTHER, LIKED EACH OTHER. A LOT OF TIMES THEIR FAMILIES WERE THERE. THEY'D GO TO P.T.A. MEETINGS AND SOCCER GAMES. IT WAS MORE OF A COMMUNITY AND THE INSTITUTION WORKED. NOW, IT'S A TUESDAY/THURSDAY CLUB. THEY DON'T KNOW EACH OTHER. THEY DON'T LIKE EACH OTHER. THEY DON'T TRUST EACH OTHER. THERE AREN'T ENOUGH MODERATE CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRATS TO KEEP THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY FROM GOING TOO FAR TO THE LEFT AND THERE AREN'T ENOUGH MODERATE LIBERAL REPUBLICANS TO HAVE THAT PARTY FROM GOING TO THE RIGHT. IT'S BECOME A DYSFUNCTIONAL INSTITUTION. I HAD HOPED, THOUGHT, THAT 9/11 MIGHT CHANGE THINGS. VERY BRIEFLY, IT DID. WHEN YOU SAW THE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS GATHERED AT THE CAPITOL SINGING "GOD BLESS AMERICA" AFTER 9/11, I THOUGHT MAYBE THIS WILL BRING THINGS BACK TOGETHER. BUT AFTER THE BRIEF KUMBAYA MOMENT, AFTER A MATTER OF MONTHS, IT WAS BACK TO ITS FORMER DYSFUNCTIONAL SELF. OUR SYSTEM SEEMS TO BE SELF-CORRECTING AND SOMETHING WILL HAPPEN TO FIX IT, BUT IT CAN'T HAPPEN SOON ENOUGH.

WE'RE OUT OF TIME, CHARLIE COOK. THANKS FOR YOUR TIME. COME BACK NEXT TIME YOU'RE AROUND.

ABSOLUTELY.

WE'LL SEE YOU NEXT TIME. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

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