'It's in the Internals'


J$P Instant Transcript! Pat Caddell and Ann Coulter on the polls and the upcoming debates.

From Hannity and Colmes, September 28 2004:

ALAN COLMES [FOX NEWS]: Joining us now is the author of Treason, Ann Coulter, and former Democratic pollster Pat Caddell. I notice they put Ann in a studio far away from New York tonight, not near me. Pat, you’ve been critical of the way this campaign has gone from the Kerry standpoint, but you saw what Dick Cheney said. That’s a pretty straight-on attack from the Vice-President. Should Kerry and Edwards fire back in the same regard?

PAT CADDELL [DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST]: Well, not necessarily. I think that Cheney, clearly the Bush people, you look at this attack and you look at their new ads, they are really going now hard on Kerry’s character, they may be going too hard on it, but they’re really going hard, I think, to try to close this out. Kerry’s got a unique opportunity Thursday night, and it’s important for him to do what he needs to do, not necessarily respond to these guys.

COLMES: Well, Ann, you’ve got, in addition to what we just saw Dick Cheney saying, Orrin Hatch said just a few days ago here on Fox News that terrorists are going to throw everything they can between now and the election to try to elect Kerry. Orrin Hatch saying that terrorists are favoring Kerry for President, as if they have a dog in that race. Isn’t that a little over the top, even for you?

ANN COULTER [AUTHOR: TREASON]: No, don’t you think they are?

COLMES: Oh gee, no, Ann, I really don’t. And you really think that’s appropriate rhetoric in a campaign to say that terrorists want Democrats elected?

COULTER: I don’t think it’s rhetoric. I don’t think it’s rhetoric, I think it’s true. Democrats are not particularly harsh with our enemies. Though I am--I think this is a unique opportunity for Kerry in Thursday night’s debate. I agree with Pat on that. He can finally tell us what his position is on the war with Iraq. I’m looking forward to that.

COLMES: He said it all along. You have Orrin Hatch saying that the terrorists want Democrats elected. You have Dick Cheney saying there could be danger if we elect the Democrats because we could get hit again. This is the kind of rhetoric--

COULTER: Right.

COLMES: --Denny Hastert, speaker of the House, said recently Al Qaeda wants Kerry elected.

COULTER: Well why do you think that’s--it’s not rhetoric. I mean, I think that is true. John Kerry can’t even tell us whether he wants to go into Iraq or not. He votes for the war and then he doesn’t vote to fund it. I mean, he’s part of a long tradition of Democrats who are in favor of going to war but won’t fight it to win. I think that’s an indisputable point.

COLMES: But Ann, that’s not what I asked. I asked about statements where they’re saying, top Republicans claiming that Al Qaeda wants John Kerry as President. I think that’s ridiculous.

COULTER: Well, in as much as I think it’s a true point, of course I think he should say it.

COLMES: All right, Pat, you want to respond?

CADDELL: Well, I think it’s going a bridge too far. You know, the Republicans always do this. They get really in a good position and they just got to push it just a little bit too far. And given where the election is right now, I think they’d be better not to go quite so far, because this is the sort of thing that backfires with moderates, with women, with the voters that they’re holding right now, that they’re holding precariously against Kerry.

COLMES: Ann, I’m just curious. I know you’re not exactly a Democrat, but if you were advising Kerry on this debate, what would you tell him?

COULTER: I’d tell him you’ve got to figure out what your position is on the war. I would tell him stop taking advice from Naomi Wolf on that orange tanning stuff right before the debate. And that’s all I can think of.

CADDELL: That’s cruel.

SEAN HANNITY [FOX NEWS]: Let me ask Pat. Pat, let me run the latest Bush ad, and I’ll ask you the question before I run it, and then you can respond right after it airs. Do you think this goes to far, this latest Bush ad?

ADVERTISEMENT:
GEORGE W BUSH: I’m George W Bush and I approved this message:
JOHN KERRY: It was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein, and when the President made the decision, I supported him.
KERRY: I don’t believe the President took us to war as he should have.
KERRY: The winning of the war was brilliant.
KERRY: It’s the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.
KERRY: I have always said, we may yet even find weapons of mass destruction.
KERRY: I actually voted for the 87 billion dollars, before I voted against it.
ON-SCREEN: How can John Kerry protect us...when he doesn’t even know where he stands?

HANNITY: I think it’s hard, but truthful. Truthful, Pat. What do you say?

CADDELL: If I were the Bush people, that’s what I’d be running right now, for sure. It goes right at the question of not just flip-flopping, but what he believes in, conviction. And that is what’s hurting him in the polls. I mean, they are really pouring it on right now. Obviously, the Bush campaign wants to shut this campaign down if they can Thursday night.

HANNITY: And you can’t blame them for that, Pat, and I mean, they may have an opportunity--

CADDELL: No, I’m not blaming them for it.

HANNITY: Yeah. Ann, one of the things I went back and found, fairly interesting, that back at Christmas Iowans for Dean gave John Kerry a present. You know what they gave him?

COULTER: A pair of flip-flops?

HANNITY: A pair of flip-flops, and they said Sen Kerry’s been flip-flopping on issues throughout his career and campaign, and we thought we’d make things a little more comfortable for him. Is there any way that you--

COULTER: Well, I think as--

HANNITY: Go ahead.

COULTER: I was going to say, I think as Alan will tell you, there is nothing that terrorists fear more than an irresolute President.

HANNITY: When I look at the internal poll numbers, Pat, on issues of decisiveness, on issues of Iraq and terrorism, Bush is up in most of these polls by about 20 points when you look at the internals. How does Kerry recover if at all? Is it possible?

CADDELL: Well, it’s possible. Look, debate is the vehicle normally, historically, of challengers, although I can’t think of a challenger’s coming into a debate quite in the situation needing it so badly as Sen Kerry does. He’s got a problem both in terms of likeability but also in terms of leadership. The problem is he has not gotten, he has fallen short on getting over what I call passing the test for being President. If you look at the rest of the polls, if you look to just the other numbers in the polls, you’d think that George Bush would be behind right now. He’s not because it’s being blocked up by people not--

HANNITY: Wait a minute, Pat, I’m looking at the internals of all the latest polls, and on every issue imaginable, President Bush is ahead. Which poll are you talking about?

CADDELL: No, I’m talking about whether people think Iraq is going well, how comfortable they are with the economy, those kinds of things. You would think that Bush is in trouble; he’s not because Sen Kerry has not been able to penetrate over the barrier, get over the hump of being acceptable as a Commander in Chief or as a President. And he in fact seems to be falling shorter and shorter on that.

HANNITY: What do you make, what do you make of this new--

CADDELL: And that is the problem he’s got Thursday night.

HANNITY: What do you make of the aggressive mean Kerry, the Carville Kerry, the Begala Kerry?

CADDELL: Well, if you look at the polls, it hasn’t helped very much. If anything it’s seems to have backfired somewhat. I described it as kind of like going up, being in Gettysburg on the third day and going up Cemetary Ridge, going right into the teeth of the enemy.

HANNITY: Ann, you’re laughing. I see humor, a smile on that face. You’re very optimistic about this week, Ann Coulter?

COULTER: Yes I am, yes I am.

HANNITY: Why?

COULTER: For all of the obvious reasons. I mean, the Democrats chose John Kerry because they thought they could fake out the American people with a war hero. But I think he was not the best candidate of the Democrats. I think they probably should have gone with someone like Howard Dean, just, if you’re going to be the anti-war candidate, then make that case and stick with it. I think, and I hope that position would lose in the end. But it’s not comical the way Kerry is.

HANNITY: Yeah, well, do you agree with that Pat?

CADDELL: I think that Kerry has proven to be a very difficult general election candidate; I always thought he would be. Look, this issue is right now down to one thing, which is women. It is unbelievable that the Democratic candidate for President is trailing with women, or running even with women, based on which poll you see this week.

HANNITY: It’s unbelievable.

COLMES: Well it could all change overnight.

CADDELL: That group is very volatile, and that’s what this debate is about. Both candidates are going to be pitching to them.

COLMES: We’re going to take a break...

[commercial break]

HANNITY: All right, we all know their positions here. So they have this big debate, and this big build-up, Pat, and we watch the dramatic shift in Kerry. What strategy could he bring into this debate where he could walk away and say he scored points, he re-invigorated his candidacy in some way?

CADDELL: Well, first of all, if the expectations are low for you, if people are negative to you, it’s easier to come out more positive, if you do certain things. One of the things I would do if I were him, he’s been so negative, is I would turn and do what we had Mondale do with Reagan in 1984, which is say something nice about the President. That would certainly take people aback. And I would also admit some mistakes. Part of Kerry’s problem is he never says he did anything wrong.

HANNITY: All right, but how to you go from pounding and pounding and calling the President a liar every day, and then shift on a dime? I mean, if he took your strategy--

CADDELL: I didn’t say let up on differences. I said as a personality matter, as a personal matter, that it is not personal, that it’s not just angry. And then I would speak very forcibly on what his positions are, because the problem is people don’t know what they are.

HANNITY: Yeah.

CADDELL: And then, bang, bang, bang, but I would change the perception--

HANNITY: He doesn’t know what they are.

CADDELL: Well that may be, but I would change the perception of him as just an attack dog right now, which I think last week has contributed to. And that might even throw Bush off.

HANNITY: Listen, you know why I don’t think that’s possible? I don’t think that’s going to happen, and I’ll throw it to Ann, but you know why?

CADDELL: Oh, having said it, I’m sure it won’t happen once I’ve suggested it. You can be sure of that.

HANNITY: Yeah, why listen to someone who actually may help you to win an election? Good point, Pat. Why I don’t think it’s going to happen is look at the people around him. He has now bought into the line, pound away, call him a liar, show you’re tough, even though his position now sounds totally incoherent, because it contradicts everything else he said up to this point, Ann?

COULTER: Right. Not only that, I think Pat Caddell’s advice is absolutely right. He needs to pursue the Mondale strategy. Even I kind of liked Mondale in that debate. He was very friendly and he seemed genial and human. But I think part of the reason Kerry won’t do it is he seems to be trying to shore up his vote among the moveon.org crowd now.

HANNITY: Yeah.

CADDELL: His problem is women.

COULTER: I mean, he’s trying to shore up the black vote, he trying to shore up the women’s vote.

HANNITY: How many states did Mondale win, right Pat? Maybe that’s--

CADDELL: Mondale won that debate, and it helped him. It threw the President off and opened the race for a few days, not for very long. It opened for a few days, but the problem for Kerry is women, women, women.

COLMES: Hey Pat, hasn’t the race narrowed though in the last week or so, and Kerry’s picked up a couple of points? And I keep hearing him criticized for bringing these other people, attack dogs they say, on board. But the gap has narrowed a bit. So hasn’t that helped?

CADDELL: Well, the average polls, the last three, three in the last 24 hours, that showed 6-8 points, Pew, Gallup and--

HANNITY: ABC.

COLMES: That’s more than had been.

CADDELL: But I’ll tell you, it’s in the internals. It’s falling so far behind on the major points of who you trust on the big issues. They’ve abandoned domestic issues now, they’ve agreed to fight it on Bush’s ground. That’s a real problem, because you’ve got to win something--

COLMES: But the point is, it is narrowing. It is narrowing.

CADDELL: But you cannot, I don’t care how narrow it gets overall if you’re still running an 11-point negative favorable rating, and the other guy’s running a positive. You’ve got a problem. It’s in the internals. But that’s--

COLMES: Ann, what about the old Bob Dole line when he says stop lying about my record. Sean showed an ad earlier tonight that takes Kerry totally out of context. For example, he calls the military winning of the war brilliant, but they leave out the next part where he says Bush dropped the ball afterwards. They have Kerry saying it was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein, leave him out when he says I would have preferred if he had given diplomacy a greater opportunity. That commercial is a fraud, it takes Kerry out of context.

CADDELL: Well, of course it does. We’re at that stage of the campaign. This stuff is running on the air right now on both sides.

COULTER: Right, that’s what a commercial is.

COLMES: But it’s not good, it’s not right, it’s not ethical.

COULTER: No, I think in general it’s never a good defense to say that remark was taken out of context. I mean, provide the context for us then.

COLMES: I just did.

COULTER: Republicans are going to run their own commercials.

COLMES: Well I just provided the context, and you know it’s disingenous to do that.

COULTER: No but that, and I disagree with you. I think it’s not that helpful, I mean, Kerry’s--

CADDELL: That opens the opportunity for Kerry to finally state what he is and say, look, I’ve made some mistakes, I’ve got some differences, but here is where I stand. Here are the important issues.

COULTER: Right. That’s what he ought to do. I don’t think those commercials are unfair.

COLMES: Pat, is it a case of Kerry not knowing where he stands, or is it they’ve left a perception that Kerry has changed his minds a couple of times. But is that perception or reality? Does he not really stand for something? Do you really believe that?

CADDELL: Well, I’m not, look, don’t look to me. A week ago the New York Times was complaining about John Kerry’s position on Iraq, which is a little bit like having the Observatore Romano criticizing the Pope, as John Kennedy once said about Nixon, in the Wall Street Journal. The problem is he’s finally got his position but he’s on the attack with it, it’s not Presidential. He needs to raise it up a little bit, because people are concerned.

HANNITY: Hey Pat, I’m glad they don’t listen to you, no offense.

CADDELL: Well you don’t have to worry about that.

HANNITY: Your Democratic brethren are not listening and I’m actually very appreciative of that, but good to see you, thanks for being with us.

CADDELL: Good to see you all.

HANNITY: Ann, we’ll see you Monday. Congrats on the new book, How to Talk to a Liberal, If You Must. It’ll be out next week.

posted: Tue - September 28, 2004 at 10:24 PM       j$p  send 
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