February 02, 2004

Terry McAuliffe: "I look forward to that debate, when John John Kerry, a war hero with a chest full of medals, is standing next to George Bush, a man who was AWOL in the Alabama National Guard..."

Here we go...

Terry McAullife: I don't know if John Kerry will be
the nominee. I have to be neutral towards all of them.
But if he is the nominee, let me tell you this,
George, I look forward to that debate, when John Kerry, a war hero with a chest full of medals, is standing next to George Bush, a man who was AWOL in the Alabama National Guard.

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February 1, 2004
McAullife on 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos'

The following is the transcript of the interview of
Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic National Committee
chairman, on ABC News's “This Week with George
Stephanopoulos as provided by ABC News.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, everyone.

We're back in Washington, but the Democratic
challengers are still chasing John Kerry. Can anyone
catch him? Is Tuesday their last chance, Wednesday
time for the losers to call it quits?

We'll ask our headliner, the chairman of the
Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe...

Now to politics, and our headliner, the chairman of
the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe.

As front runner John Kerry picks up more steam in
seven states voting on Tuesday, he's drawing fire from
McAuliffe's Republican counterpart, Ed Gillespie.


John Kerry's record of service in our military is
honorable. But his long record in the Senate is one of
advocating policies that would weaken our national

In 1972, when he first campaigned for Congress, Kerry
made a commitment to vote against military
appropriations. After being elected, he went one step
further, actively introducing legislation to reduce
funding for defense and intelligence.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And Terry McAuliffe joins us now.

Welcome, Mr. McAuliffe.

MCAULIFFE: George, good to be with you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Ed Gillespie went on and on in that
speech. He took votes starting in 1972 all the way up
to today, against intelligence spending, against
defense spending, against FBI spending, against the
first Gulf War in 1991.

The Republicans clearly think that John Kerry is
vulnerable on national security.

MCAULIFFE: Well, this should not shock anybody. This
is how the Republicans run their campaigns,
negativity. They're going to run a negative campaign.
They're going to distort whoever our nominee's record
is. This is how they always do it, George.

Listen, what else are they going to talk about? They
got George Bush, who has lost 3 million jobs. You got
43.5 million Americans today with no health insurance
at all, underfunding education, Leave No Child Behind,
by $9 billion.

Then we have the whole issue this week -- I mean, the
president needs to come out with some answers as to
the question, why they now say there were no weapons
of mass destruction. Well, this is the reason why he
got us into the war. They cherry-picked intelligence
data, they politicized intelligence data to justify

George Bush has a lot of problems. We're ahead of him
in polls today, as you know.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yet they still have a 30-40 point
advantage on national security. And you saw all the
opposition research start to get dumped out this
weekend, clear sign that the Republican Party is going
to basically say that John Kerry is Michael Dukakis
all over again. They're going to bring up furloughs,
they're going to bring up soft on crime, they're going
to bring up soft on defense and say, He just doesn't
share your values.

MCAULIFFE: Well, they tried to do this to us, as you
know, in 1988 in the campaign. But this isn't 1988.
This is all the Republicans talk about. They're going
to be negative.

I don't know if John Kerry will be the nominee. I have
to be neutral towards all of them. But if he is the
nominee, let me tell you this, George, I look forward
to that debate, when John Kerry, a war hero with a
chest full of medals, is standing next to George Bush,
a man who was AWOL in the Alabama National Guard.

George Bush never served in our military in our
country. He didn't show up when he should have showed
up. And there's John Kerry, on the stage with a chest
full of medals that he earned by saving lives of
American soldiers.

So is -- John Kerry says, Bring it on. I don't know if
he'll be the nominee, but I welcome whoever the
nominee's debate is with George Bush.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, you know, I got to stop you
there, because you stole my next question. I was going
to ask you if you thought it was actually a legitimate
issue to bring up President Bush's failure to show up
for several months with the National Guard in Alabama
in 1972.

And I frankly didn't know what you were going to say.
But you went right at it.

MCAULIFFE: Of course we -- you know, listen, when
George Bush struts around in an aircraft carrier
wearing a flight suit, pretending he's some big
military officer and saying, Mission accomplished, he
brings it on himself.

But when they go out, the Republicans go out and
attack our candidates, when you go out and attack
someone like John Kerry on patriotism -- listen,
George, they didn't...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, they didn't exactly attack his
patriotism. They said -- Ed Gillespie said right

MCAULIFFE: He's weak on defense.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... but he said he -- we recognize and
honor his service in Vietnam.

MCAULIFFE: Oh, OK, let's do this little throwaway
line, then come back with the other stuff.

They did this to Max Cleland, a triple amputee, in the
Senate race in Georgia. We will not stand by and allow
that to happen again.

The facts are what they are, George. George Bush got
out of college in 1968, the height of the draft. He
used his father's contacts to get a spot in the Texas
Guard. He then wanted to go work on an Alabama Senate
race. He went to Alabama for one year. He didn't show

Call it whatever you want, AWOL, doesn't matter. But
if this is the way the Republicans are going, you bet,
bring it on, legitimate debate.

When this election happens, they (inaudible) know the
Democrats are going to keep them safe here and abroad.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So how do you answer, then, people who
would say, Wait a second, Democrats all defended Bill
Clinton back in 1992, despite the questions about his
draft record. Isn't this hypocrisy here?

MCAULIFFE: How is it hypocrisy? When our -- this
election's going to be fought about what all Americans
will tell you it's going to be fought about, on
domestic issues. It's going to be fought on jobs,
jobs, jobs, education, and health care.

And there will be legitimate questions on the
president's conduct as it relates to Iraq. But
gigantic budget deficits -- I mean, look at this week,
George. The president had to come out and admit that
he misled the American people and he misled members of
Congress by saying that his Medicare plan would cost
$400 billion. Lo and behold, this week we find out
that it's $130 billion more.

The president has misled us day in and day out on
every single issue.

But I warn Democrats, this is not going to be an easy
fight, because you know what they will do, George.
They outed a CIA operative, they put this woman's life
in jeopardy because they had the audacity to question
the president, what he had said in his speech in the
State of the Union a year ago.

Now we got a criminal investigation going on.

I look forward to this contest. Look what happened,
George, in Iowa and New Hampshire, record turnout in
Iowa, 55 percent new voters. New Hampshire, 220,000
voters, broke every record, 45 percent were
independent voters. New Hampshire's in play. We're
going to win Iowa.

There's something going on.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we got seven states coming up on

But before I get to a question about that, just want
to get this very, very clear. There's no question that
you and your nominee are going to make an issue of
George Bush's military record in this campaign.

MCAULIFFE: Well, I'll let the nominee speak for
himself. But I can tell you this, when the president
and his henchmen, and when Karl Rove and the rest of
them come after our nominee and try to attack our
nominee and our party as it relates to national
security, we are going to raise all legitimate
questions as relates to the president's conduct of
foreign affairs and his past.

You bet. They're going to do it to us. Listen, this
administration will do anything to keep power. We know
it, we saw what they did to us in 2000, we know what
they're going to do to us going forward.

We're going to have $200 million spent against us in
the next six months. We need to be prepared.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Let's look ahead to February 3,
because the primaries are not over yet.


STEPHANOPOULOS: You've said that any candidate who
doesn't win a state on Tuesday has to reassess their
campaign. And I want to show you what Howard Dean said
when he was asked about that.


to help me out a little bit a couple of months ago
when all the guys were piling on. And he decided to
stay neutral, and I'd recommend he continue that


STEPHANOPOULOS: And he said very, very clearly that he
is not going to get out of this race even if he
doesn't win anything on Tuesday. He doesn't seem to be
following your advice.

MCAULIFFE: Well, he has to make an assessment about
his own campaign. Clearly, every candidate's got to
make one. It's not up to me to determine when to get
out of the race or anybody else...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's clearly what you want,
isn't it? That's why you were sending that signal
after Iowa.

MCAULIFFE: Well, no, I made that statement, George, in
December, when we had nine candidates running.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And repeated it several times.

MCAULIFFE: Do I want...

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... including...

MCAULIFFE: ... nine candidates going through all of
February? Of course not. If you can't mathematically
win, then you need to assess your candidacy. The
voters are going to make this decision. And if you're
not winning, then you can't raise money, and you can't
get your message out.

Howard Dean has already made it clear that he's not
going to advertise on these February 3 states, but he
is going to play there. That's his assessment. I --
good luck. He may be the nominee of the party. We
don't know that today.

But if you can't win the nomination, we need to rally
together and unify as a party. George Bush and his
administration are going to have $200 million to
Bush-Cheney Reelect. That is coming after us beginning
in March. It all has to be spent before he gets to the
convention in New York in the beginning of September.

That's a lot of money against us. We need to be
unified as a party...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But since that -- since all that money
is going to be spent, Howard Dean now says he's going
to stay in at least until February 17, the Wisconsin

MCAULIFFE: Right, right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... and then move on into Super
Tuesday. Isn't that going to hurt the eventual nominee
the longer this goes on?

MCAULIFFE: Well, I have always said, going back for
the last year, George, that I believe we'll have a
nominee by March 10. We have 35 more contests between
now and March 10. I mean, as you know, March 2, huge
states, California, New York, Ohio, Georgia. Then, of
course, on March 9 we've got Florida, Texas.

I mean, we've got huge states coming up. Let the
voters decide.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But when does someone like Howard Dean
-- you're right, let the voters decide. But when does
someone like Howard Dean turn in -- turn from an
insurgent, legitimate insurgent, into a spoiler?

MCAULIFFE: I can guarantee you this, that Howard Dean
will never be a spoiler. This man is passionate about
the Democratic Party. This man is passionate about
beating George Bush. And if he or any of the other
candidates at some point realize they can't get the
nomination, the magic number is 2,161. That's the
number of delegates. The second that we as a party,
somebody has that, we have a nominee.

And Howard Dean will do the right thing, as well as
all the other candidates. This pin, ABB, that I wear
every day, Anybody But Bush, that is the sentiment
across this country.

But let me tell you this. Howard Dean has energized an
awful lot of people. He has done great things for our
party, he and all the other candidates. He may be the
nominee. We don't know it today.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yet there's no question, Terry, I
mean, you're probably getting a lot of the same phone
calls I was getting, I would suspect many more.
Establishment Democrats in Washington breathed a huge
sigh of relief when John Kerry won again in New
Hampshire. That's true, isn't it?

MCAULIFFE: Well, as chairman of the party, as you
know, I have to love all seven equally. And sure, a
lot of people did call me and had concerns about the
different candidates. But I have to defend all
candidates. I have continually, as you have watched me
on television over the course of the last six weeks,
when people have asked questions about Governor Dean,
I have defended him, as I do in private conversations.

It is up to the voters to make these decisions, not
the chairman of the party. My job is to put this party
in the best shape it's ever been in, leading up into
the nomination. I got to tell you, today, the DNC is
in the best shape we've ever been in, millions in the
bank, 170 million named voter file. We just moved into
the new national headquarters.

We are better prepared than we have ever been. The
only thing I'm missing is a nominee. And I think,
George, that will come March 10.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you say that, the DNC is better
prepared than ever before. Yet the Democrats have lost
a lot of ground since 2000.

I want to show you something that Ken Mellman (ph),
the Bush campaign manager, said on Friday.


2000, the red states have turned redder, and the blue
states have turned purple. We made historic gains in
2002, the first time a president's party gained seats
in the U.S. -- won back, gained seats to win back the
U.S. Senate, and the second time we gained seats in
the House in their first midterm election.

For the first time since 1952, the four largest states
in America all have Republican governors, and for the
first time since 1954, there are more Republican than
Democratic state legislators in the United States.


STEPHANOPOULOS: He goes on to point out that according
to recent Gallup and Pew polls, more people are
identifying themselves as Republicans than Democrats
for the first time in years.

All that has happened on your watch.

MCAULIFFE: Well, first of all, I tell you, we have
more governors than we had when George Bush became
president of this country. And I got to tell you, we
now have governorships in key states that we must win
this November. But, you know, we've got the governor
of Pennsylvania now, we have the governor of Michigan
now, we have the governor of Illinois.

We didn't have these states in the 2000 presidential
election. But we won in other places. We won in
Tennessee, we won in Kansas, I mean, Oklahoma. We won
in places people not thought possible. We now have the
governor of Wyoming.

So what I worry about is making sure that we have 270
electoral votes. We now have governors in key states
because there's not a state today that Al Gore won in
2000 that today we wouldn't win again.

But I'm telling you, we'll win Arizona. We're going to
win Ohio. I can add states to it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And if not, I mean, do you concede
that if the Democrats do not win this presidential
election, we're in for a major realignment? This is a
realigning election. Republicans will be controlling
every major branch of government and possibly getting
up to three picks on the Supreme Court.

MCAULIFFE: Couldn't agree with you more. And this is
the message that I do six days a week traveling around
this great country. We as a party, we have to win this
presidential election. The stakes have never been more
important. This is my seventh presidential campaign. I
always say it's the most important.

This one is, George. It's justices to the Supreme
Court, it's more right-wing judges on the federal
courts. All of these issues, education, health care,
jobs. The stakes could not be any bigger.

You bet it's the message I give every day. That's why
we need Democrats, independents. That's why we're
having record turnouts in these primaries and
caucuses. That's why we're ahead today in the polls.

George Bush has failed America. And we're going to
have our positive vision to get this country moving

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, it's Super Bowl Sunday. I'm
not going to ask for your pick, because we try to stay
away from pundit picks here. But I did read that just
a couple days ago, you were helping P. Diddy with his
halftime show. What's that about?

MCAULIFFE: Well, I was in New York the other night,
and I went over at midnight over to his studio. He is
going to be helpful to the Democratic Party, go out
and register young voters, get the hip-hop community
active. He's agreed to do events. He's coming go our
major event March 25 here in Washington. He's going to
travel all over the country.

I asked him if he needed me to sing or dance with him.
He turned me down. But he's looking forward to it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I didn't think you were a hip-hop kind
of guy.

MCAULIFFE: Oh, I am. I just was in Atlanta last week
with 2,000 people with 112. I just did an event with
Ginuwine and Outkast. I'm all over this hip-hop stuff.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Terry McAuliffe, thanks very much.

MCAULIFFE: Very good, George.

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Posted by richard at February 2, 2004 09:43 AM