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Congressman Richard Gephardt
(#3102)
September 12, 2003

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IOWA PRESS #3102 >>

Borg: ATTACKS AMONG THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES INTENSIFIED THIS WEEK. WE'LL DISCUSS THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN WITH MISSOURI CONGRESSMAN RICHARD GEPHARDT ON THIS EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS."

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS," THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION... GENERATIONS OF FAMILIES AND FRIENDS WHO FEEL PASSIONATE ABOUT THE PROGRAMS THEY WATCH ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION.

AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: DEMOCRATS VYING FOR THEIR PARTY'S PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION CONTINUE THE BARRAGE AGAINST THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION BUT ALSO TURNED UP THE HEAT AGAINST EACH OTHER THIS WEEK. OUR GUEST TODAY, CONGRESSMAN RICHARD GEPHARDT, ON FRIDAY DREW SHARP DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN HIS VIEWS ON HEALTH CARE AND THE OTHER DEMOCRATS OPPOSING HIS BID FOR THE PRESIDENCY, AND HE WAS ESPECIALLY HARSH IN CRITICIZING THE FRONT-RUNNER, HOWARD DEAN. CONGRESSMAN GEPHARDT WON IOWA'S 1988 CAUCUS, AND IN RECENT POLLS, HE STANDS SECOND AMONG LIKELY 2004 CAUCUS-GOERS HERE. MR. GEPHARDT HAS BEEN IN THE DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP ALMOST FROM THE START, WHEN HE WAS ELECTED FROM MISSOURI IN 1976. CONGRESSMAN GEPHARDT, WELCOME BACK TO IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. YOU'RE A FAMILIAR FACE HERE ON "IOWA PRESS."

Gephardt: GREAT TO BE HERE.

Borg: AND, OF COURSE, YOU KNOW THE PEOPLE ACROSS THE TABLE: "KUNI PUBLIC RADIO" STATEHOUSE REPORTER JENEANE BECK AND "ASSOCIATED PRESS" SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: CONGRESSMAN GEPHARDT, YOU ARE USING THIS SWING TO DRAW SOME DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN YOURSELF AND FORMER GOVERNOR VERMONT -- OF VERMONT, HOWARD DEAN. WHAT'S YOUR CASE? WHAT'S THE CORE OF YOUR ARGUMENT?

Gephardt: WELL, WE'VE HAD LOTS OF BEGINNINGS OF GOOD DEBATES, AND THAT'S WHAT ELECTIONS ARE ABOUT. AND I'VE HAD DIFFERENCES WITH GOVERNOR DEAN AND OTHER CANDIDATES ON TRADE, ON OUR HEALTH CARE PROPOSALS, AND I HAVE DIFFERENCES WITH GOVERNOR DEAN ON MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY ISSUES. I TALK ABOUT THE FACT THAT WHEN I WAS FIGHTING, LEADING THE DEMOCRATIC FIGHT TO STOP THE GINGRICH $270-BILLION CUTS AGAINST MEDICARE IN THE MID '90S, HOWARD DEAN WAS SAYING THOSE CUTS WERE JUSTIFIED AND THAT WAS THE WAY TO BALANCE THE BUDGET. I DON'T AGREE ON THAT. HE'S ENTITLED TO HIS OPINION, AND THIS IS ONE OF THE DIFFERENCES THAT WE'LL BE DEBATING AS WE GO THROUGHOUT THIS CAMPAIGN.

Glover: HOW FUNDAMENTAL -- HOW CORE ARE THOSE DIFFERENCES? ARE THESE FUNDAMENTAL TO WHAT DEMOCRATS OUGHT TO BE LOOKING AT WHEN THEY PICK A NOMINEE?

Gephardt: WELL, THAT WAS A CRUCIAL TIME IN HISTORY. THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY WAS REALLY ASSAULTED ON ITS VIEWS ON MEDICARE BY NEWT GINGRICH AND THE HOUSE REPUBLICANS. THEY HAD JUST WON THE HOUSE. WE HAD JUST GONE THROUGH THE BIG 1993 BILL CLINTON ECONOMIC VOTE. WE LOST THE HOUSE. GINGRICH CAME WITH THE CONTRACT WITH AMERICA AND WAS SAYING THAT THE WAY TO FUND TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY WAS TO MAKE BIG CUTS IN MEDICARE. I THINK BEING AGAINST THOSE CUTS IS A CORE DEMOCRATIC ISSUE. THIS IS THE PARTY THAT FOUNDED MEDICARE, THAT FOUNDED SOCIAL SECURITY, AND WE'VE ALWAYS GOT TO BE THERE, IN MY VIEW, DEFENDING THESE PROGRAMS AGAINST THE EVER-PRESENT ASSAULT OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AGAINST THESE PROGRAMS.

Beck: CONGRESSMAN, MOST POLLS SHOW THAT YOU AND GOVERNOR DEAN ARE AT THE TOP OF THE FIELD OF CANDIDATES. IS THIS TRIP THROUGH IOWA SHOWING YOU'RE TAKING HIM ON MORE DIRECTLY?

Gephardt: WELL, WE'VE BEGUN TO HAVE AN ENERGETIC DEBATE WITHIN THE PARTY ABOUT A WHOLE RANGE OF ISSUES, AND THAT'S WHAT ELECTIONS ARE ABOUT. I LIKE ALL THE CANDIDATES. I LIKE HOWARD DEAN. I LIKE JOHN KERRY. I LIKE ALL THE CANDIDATES. I THINK THEY'RE WONDERFUL PEOPLE AND THIS IS NOT PERSONAL ATTACKS IN ANY WAY. THIS IS THE LEGITIMATE DEBATE OVER DIFFERENCES, OVER ISSUES THAT SHOULD GO ON IN A CAMPAIGN. AND I THINK AT THE END OF IT, DEMOCRATIC VOTERS HERE IN IOWA AND IN OTHER STATES DOWN THE LINE WILL MAKE THEIR CHOICE FOR THE CANDIDATE THAT THEY WANT TO BE OUR CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT AGAINST GEORGE BUSH.

Beck: SO WE'RE SEEING THAT SHIFT FROM WHERE AT THE BEGINNING YOU TRIED TO CRITICIZE THE PRESIDENT TO WHERE THE CANDIDATES MAY START CRITIQUING EACH OTHER NOW?

Gephardt: WELL, I'M VERY CRITICAL OF THIS PRESIDENT. HE IS NOT DOING A GOOD JOB, AND I WILL TALK ABOUT THAT EVERY DAY IN THIS CAMPAIGN. I BELIEVE THAT TO THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART. I THINK HE IS REALLY LEADING THIS COUNTRY INTO VERY DANGEROUS DIRECTIONS ON ALL POLICIES, AND THAT WILL BE THE MAIN THRUST OF MY CAMPAIGN THROUGHOUT. BUT WE DO HAVE A PRIMARY CONTEST THAT GOES ON STARTING HERE IN IOWA. IOWANS ARE GREAT JUDGES OF ALL THE CANDIDATES. IT'S A GREAT PLACE TO START. AND THIS KIND OF LEGITIMATE DEBATE ABOUT DIFFERENCES ON ISSUES IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF THAT DIALOGUE THAT GOES ON AS IOWANS MAKE UP THEIR MIND.

Glover: ARE YOU WORRIED AT ALL THAT DEMOCRATIC ACTIVISTS WILL VIEW THIS SOMEWHAT AS AN ACT OF DESPERATION, THAT YOU'RE BEGINNING TO STRIKE OUT AGAINST THE CANDIDATE WHO IS SURGING IN SOME POLLS?

Gephardt: NOT AT ALL. LOOK, I'M DOING GREAT HERE IN IOWA. I'M GOING TO DO REALLY WELL HERE. I'M GOING TO WIN IN IOWA. WE'VE GOT A GREAT ORGANIZATION. I'M GETTING GREAT SUPPORT. I FEEL VERY GOOD ABOUT WHERE OUR CAMPAIGN IS. I'M GOING TO WIN HERE AND I'M GOING TO WIN THE NOMINATION AND I'M GOING TO BEAT GEORGE BUSH AND I'M THE BEST EQUIPPED TO BEAT GEORGE BUSH BECAUSE I CAN BEAT HIM IN THE INDUSTRIAL HEARTLAND OF THE COUNTRY, WHICH IS WHERE YOU'VE GOT TO BEAT HIM TO WIN THE ELECTORAL VOTES.

Borg: BUT IN ORDER TO DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU'RE GOING TO DO, AND THAT IS WIN IN IOWA, YOU'VE GOT TO MOVE FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW, AT LEAST WHERE THE POLLS SHOW YOU ARE, AND THAT IS RUNNING SECOND BEHIND HOWARD DEAN. IF YOU DON'T WIN IN IOWA, IS IT DO OR DIE?

Gephardt: WELL, THAT'S A HYPOTHETICAL THAT I DON'T CONTEMPLATE. I'M GOING TO WIN IN IOWA, AND I'M GOING TO WIN THE NOMINATION. WE'RE AT AN EARLY POINT. THIS RACE HAS A LONG WAY TO GO. IOWANS -- MANY IOWANS HAVE NOT YET FOCUSED ON THE RACE VERY STRONGLY. IT'S JUST AFTER THE LABOR DAY HOLIDAY AND PEOPLE, AS WE GO THROUGH THE NEXT MONTHS, WILL INCREASINGLY BEGIN TO REALLY LOOK AT THIS RACE. I'M VERY HAPPY WITH WHERE WE ARE. I'VE GOT BOLD IDEAS OUT THERE. I'VE GOT, I THINK, THE BEST IDEAS ON HEALTH CARE, ON ENERGY, ON EDUCATION, ON JOBS, ON THE ECONOMY TO GET THIS ECONOMY MOVING AGAIN. I'M THE CANDIDATE WITH THE MOST EXPERIENCE AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF THIS GOVERNMENT WITH ALL THE DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN ISSUES THIS COUNTRY HAS FACED, AND I THINK I'M THE BEST EQUIPPED TO WIN THE GENERAL ELECTION AGAINST GEORGE BUSH. THAT'S WHAT WE HAVE TO DO. AND I THINK DEMOCRATS INCREASINGLY ARE GOING TO ADDRESS THE QUESTION OF WHO HAS THE BEST ABILITY TO TAKE ON AND BEAT GEORGE BUSH.

Borg: WHAT'S GOING TO CLOSE THE GAP AND ALLOW YOU TO PASS THE PACE SETTER THEN?

Gephardt: WELL, ELECTIONS ARE ALWAYS KIND OF THE SAME. PEOPLE SIZE UP YOUR IDEAS. PEOPLE SIZE UP YOU AS A HUMAN BEING, VIS-A-VIS ALL THE OTHER CANDIDATES, AND THEY PICK THE PERSON THAT THEY THINK IS THE BEST CANDIDATE TO CARRY THE PARTY'S BANNER INTO THE GENERAL ELECTION AND HAS THE BEST ABILITY TO DEFEAT GEORGE BUSH. I HAVE NEVER SEEN DEMOCRATS THIS ENERGIZED HERE IN IOWA AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY IN DEFEATING GEORGE BUSH. THE PEOPLE ARE ABSOLUTELY ENERGIZED AND MOTIVATED AS DEMOCRATS ALL OVER THIS COUNTRY. AND HIS NUMBERS ARE STARTING TO SINK. THEY'RE STARTING TO ERODE BECAUSE PEOPLE KNOW THAT HE'S NOT GETTING THE JOB DONE ON THE ECONOMY. HE'S LOST 3.2 MILLION JOBS IN THIS COUNTRY. HE'S LOST MORE JOBS THAN THE LAST 11 PRESIDENTS COMBINED. HE'S GOT A WORSE RECORD ON JOBS THAN ANY PRESIDENT SINCE HERBERT HOOVER, AND THEY KNOW THAT HE'S NOT MAKING IT SAFER. HE'S NOT DOING THE THINGS IN FOREIGN POLICY TO WORK WITH OTHER COUNTRIES TO SOLVE IMPORTANT PROBLEMS.

Beck: CONGRESSMAN, YOU'VE REFERRED TO YOURSELF AS THE MOST EXPERIENCED IN THIS CAMPAIGN. WE HAVE HEARD SOME IOWANS SAY, WELL, IT'S TIME FOR A FRESH FACE AND THAT'S THE ONLY WAY TO BEAT THE PRESIDENT. IS THAT FRUSTRATING OR CONCERN YOU AT ALL?

Gephardt: NO, I SAID IN MY ANNOUNCEMENT SPEECH IN ST. LOUIS THAT IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR THE FLAVOR OF THE MONTH OR THE FRESH FACE, THEN I'M PROBABLY NOT YOUR CANDIDATE. BUT IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR SOMEBODY WITH THE MOST AND REAL EXPERIENCE AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF THIS GOVERNMENT DEALING WITH EVERY ISSUE THIS COUNTRY HAS FACED OVER THE LAST TWENTY, TWENTY-FIVE YEARS, THEN I MAY BE YOUR CANDIDATE. AND I BELIEVE IN A TIME WHEN PEOPLE ARE WORRIED ABOUT TERRORISM, WORRIED ABOUT ALL KINDS OF OTHER PROBLEMS IN THE WORLD, WORRIED ABOUT AN ECONOMY THAT'S SAGGING AND NOT MOVING FORWARD, THEY'RE GOING TO LOOK FOR A CANDIDATE WITH EXPERIENCE TO GO UP AGAINST A GEORGE BUSH WHO HAS BEEN PRESIDENT FOR FOUR YEARS, ALBEIT A BAD ONE, BUT HAS BEEN PRESIDENT. WE HAVE TO DEFEAT THIS PRESIDENT, AND SOMEONE WITH EXPERIENCE THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL SEE WITH EXPERIENCE I THINK HAS THE BEST CHANCE TO DEFEAT HIM.

Glover: CONGRESSMAN, ROUGHLY ONE OUT OF THREE OF THOSE ACTIVISTS ATTENDING PRECINCT CAUCUSES IN JANUARY WILL COME FROM A UNION HOUSEHOLD. ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH YOUR LEVEL OF SUPPORT WITHIN ORGANIZED LABOR, AND DO YOU EXPECT, BEFORE THE PRIMARY SEASON BEGINS, TO GET THE FORMAL ENDORSEMENT OF ORGANIZED LABOR?

Gephardt: WELL, FIRST, I'VE BEEN ENDORSED BY 12 INTERNATIONAL UNIONS. I'M PROUD OF THAT. I ALWAYS TELL PEOPLE THE TRUTH, AND THAT IS I COME FROM A LABOR HOUSEHOLD. MY DAD WAS A TEAMSTER AND A MILK TRUCK DRIVER. AND HE DIDN'T GET THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL, BUT HE PROVIDED MY FAMILY WITH A DECENT LIVING IN PART BECAUSE HE WAS REPRESENTED BY THE TEAMSTERS AND GOT FAIR WAGES FOR HIS HARD WORK. THAT'S WHERE I COME FROM. THAT'S WHAT'S IN MY BONES. AND FOR TWENTY-SIX YEARS NOW, I HAVE WORKED FOR WORKING FAMILIES IN WHATEVER I'VE DONE IN PUBLIC SERVICE. THAT'S WHAT I BELIEVE IN AND THAT'S WHAT I'LL ALWAYS DO. I'M GOING TO GET A LOT MORE UNIONS, I BELIEVE, ENDORSING MY CANDIDACY. THAT'S NOT WHAT'S IMPORTANT. WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO ME IS THAT I HAVE GRASS ROOTS, STRONG LINE-MEMBER SUPPORT FOR MY CANDIDACY. WHEN I GO OUT IN THE COUNTRY, WHEN I GO OUT IN IOWA, STEEL WORKERS SHOW UP, BRICK LAYERS SHOW UP, TEAMSTERS SHOW UP, IRON WORKERS SHOW UP, PEOPLE WHO REALLY UNDERSTAND MY CANDIDACY, UNDERSTAND THE FIGHT THAT I'VE MADE FOR WORKING FAMILIES FOR TWENTY-SIX YEARS. AND THEY SEE THE COUNTRY AT A CROSSROADS. THEY SEE A COUNTRY THAT'S LOSING MANUFACTURING JOBS BY THE DAY. IOWA HAS LOST 10,000 JOBS IN THE LAST YEARS, AND THEY THINK THAT LABOR UNIONS ARE UNDER ATTACK BY THIS ADMINISTRATION, THE MIDDLE CLASS IS UNDER ATTACK, AND THEY ARE MOTIVATED TO GET OUT AND SUPPORT A CANDIDATE WHO HAS STOOD WITH THEM AND WILL STAND WITH THEM IN THE DAYS AND MONTHS AHEAD.

Glover: THE IMMEDIATE QUESTION IS CAN YOU GET THE TWO-THIRDS SUPPORT NECESSARY TO GET THE FORMAL ENDORSEMENT OF THE AFL-CIO. WHERE DOES THAT STAND?

Gephardt: WELL, IT'S A HIGH BAR; THERE'S NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT. IT'S HARD TO GET. BUT I'M WORKING AT IT ONE UNION AT A TIME. I'M GOING DOOR TO DOOR. I'M TALKING TO EACH UNION, BIG UNIONS, SMALL UNIONS, AND I THINK I HAVE A GOOD SHOT AT IT. WILL I GET IT DONE? NO ONE KNOWS THAT AT THIS POINT, BUT I'M WORKING HARD AT IT. I'M GETTING MORE AND MORE LABOR SUPPORT, AND I HAVE A CHANCE TO GET THAT TWO-THIRDS ENDORSEMENT. I WOULD -- I WANT IT. I SEEK IT BECAUSE IT'S THE FIGHT THAT I'VE PUT ON THROUGHOUT MY CAREER FOR WORKING FAMILIES.

Beck: TRADITIONALLY THE LABOR BACKING WILL GO TO WHOEVER DOES END UP BEING THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE. HOWARD DEAN MAINTAINS THAT HE CAN BRING IN OTHER PEOPLE THAT HAVEN'T VOTED IN THE ELECTIONS BEFORE OR HAVEN'T VOTED REPUBLICAN. CAN YOU EXPLAIN HIS PHENOMENON? AND WHOEVER WINS THE EVENTUAL NOMINATION, CAN THEY USE WHATEVER HE HAD GOING FOR HIM TO WIN THE PRESIDENCY?

Gephardt: WELL, HOWARD HAS, YOU KNOW, DONE SOME GOOD THINGS IN HIS CAMPAIGN, AND IT IS GOOD TO GET PEOPLE EXCITED AND TO SUPPORT THE CAMPAIGN. I THINK I HAVE THE BEST ABILITY TO ORGANIZE AND UNITE THIS PARTY AND PUT TOGETHER ALL PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE THEY'RE DEMOCRATS AND WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE CAMPAIGN AND ALSO BRING IN MODERATE DEMOCRATS, INDEPENDENTS, AND EVEN SOME REPUBLICANS, BECAUSE I BELIEVE THAT THE ISSUES I'M TALKING ABOUT, MY EXPERIENCE AND ABILITY -- PROVEN ABILITY TO GET THIS ECONOMY MOVING AGAIN, TO CREATE GOOD JOBS IN THIS COUNTRY, TO GET GOOD JOBS TO BE NOT ONLY KEPT BUT CREATED IN THIS COUNTRY, MY ANSWER ON HEALTH CARE THAT UNITES BUSINESS LABOR AND THE HEALTH CARE COMMUNITY, MY IDEAS ON EDUCATION, A TEACHER CORE TO SAY TO OUR YOUNG PEOPLE, "IF YOU'LL TRAIN TO BE A TEACHER, TEACH WHERE WE NEED YOU FOR FIVE YEARS, WE'LL PAY YOUR COLLEGE LOANS," THESE ARE IDEAS THAT WOULD UNITE THIS COUNTRY, NOT JUST THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY BUT THE ENTIRE COUNTRY, TO HAVE A PRESIDENCY AND A PRESIDENT THAT WILL REALLY MOVE THIS COUNTRY TO HIGHER GROUND. I OFTEN SAY THIS CAMPAIGN IS NOT ABOUT ME, IT'S ABOUT US. IT'S ABOUT THE COUNTRY. IT'S ABOUT WHAT KIND OF COUNTRY WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TEN YEARS FROM NOW.

Glover: I'D LIKE YOU TO PUT ON YOUR STRATEGIST HAT FOR A SECOND. YOU MENTIONED A LITTLE BIT EARLIER THAT PRESIDENT BUSH'S APPROVAL RATINGS HAVE SLIPPED A BIT, AND THEY HAVE. BUT ASSESS THE DIFFICULTY OF OUSTING AN INCUMBENT PRESIDENT, AN INCUMBENT PRESIDENT WHOSE APPROVAL RATINGS ARE STILL RELATIVELY GOOD AND AN INCUMBENT PRESIDENT WHO IS GOING TO HAVE $200 MILLION AND AN INCUMBENT PRESIDENT WHO IS FOCUSED ON REELECTION. HOW TOUGH A TASK IS THIS? AND REALISTICALLY, CAN ANY OF YOU GET THIS GUY?

Gephardt: WELL, I AM INCREASINGLY ENCOURAGED DAY BY DAY THAT I'M GOING TO WIN THIS NOMINATION BUT I'M ALSO GOING TO BEAT GEORGE BUSH. IF YOU LOOK AT AN ELECTORIAL MAP, WHICH IS WHAT YOU'VE GOT TO LOOK AT, WE'RE GOING TO WIN CALIFORNIA AND NEW YORK. WE'RE GOING TO WIN A FEW OTHER COASTAL STATES. THE KEY TO THIS ELECTION ARE THE INDUSTRIAL HEARTLAND STATES THAT EXTEND FROM MINNESOTA ALL THE WAY ACROSS TO WEST VIRGINIA. WE HAD A POLL LAST WEEK FROM ZOGBY THAT INDICATES THAT I DO THE BEST, AS GOOD AS JOE LIEBERMAN AND, FRANKLY, THE BEST IN DEFEATING GEORGE BUSH RIGHT NOW. IN THAT POLL, BUSH WAS AT 48.5. I WAS AT 43. I DID BETTER THAN BUSH DID IN THE INDUSTRIAL MIDWEST STATES. I DID BETTER THAN BUSH DID AMONG INDEPENDENT VOTERS. THAT'S THE KEY TO VICTORY. KARL ROVE IS NOT DUMB. HE KNEW THAT HE HAD TO DEFEAT THE DEMOCRATS AND AL GORE IN FOUR STATES: WEST VIRGINIA, OHIO, TENNESSEE, AND MISSOURI. IF WE HAD BEEN ABLE TO WIN ONE OF THOSE STATES AGAINST GEORGE BUSH, EVEN WITHOUT FLORIDA, AL GORE WOULD BE PRESIDENT TODAY. I CAN BEAT BUSH IN ALL FOUR OF THOSE STATES AND WILL.

Glover: WELL, TO WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE HIS DECLINE IN THE POLLS IN RECENT WEEKS? HE SLIPPED FOR A VARIETY OF THINGS: HANDLING OF THE ECONOMY, HANDLING OF FOREIGN POLICY. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE PROBLEM HE'S FACING NOW?

Gephardt: I THINK IT'S ON ALL FRONTS. I THINK THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE FINALLY FIGURED OUT THAT THIS PRESIDENT IS NOT DOING THE JOB THAT THEY WANT HIM TO DO. WE ARE LOSING JOBS BY THE DAY. 93,000 JOBS LOST IN THE MONTH OF AUGUST AND WE'RE NOT JUST NOW LOSING MANUFACTURING JOBS, ALTHOUGH THAT'S MOST OF THEM. WE'RE LOSING HIGH-TECH JOBS. WE'RE LOSING SOFTWARE ENGINEERING JOBS TO CHINA AND INDIA. WE'RE LOSING JOBS IN THE SERVICE SECTOR THAT WE WERE ALL TOLD WOULD NEVER BE LOST IN THE UNITED STATES, AND THIS PRESIDENT HAS NO PLAN AND, IN MY VIEW, NO IDEA OF WHAT TO DO TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM. HE ONLY HAS ONE IDEA: TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHIEST AMERICANS. HE KEEPS DOING IT. IT'S NOT WORKING AND PEOPLE NOW UNDERSTAND IT. AND THEY'RE -- AND THAT'S WHY HIS NUMBERS ARE ERODING. HE'S NOT DOING THE JOB HE WAS CHOSEN TO DO BY THE SUPREME COURT.

Borg: LET'S GO SPECIFICALLY TO ONE OF THE DIFFICULTIES, THEN, IRAQ. YOU TOLD ME PREVIOUSLY YOU'VE GOT A LOT OF EXPERIENCE, IN FACT, THE MOST EXPERIENCE AMONG THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES, YOU SAY, IN GOVERNMENT. IF YOU HAD THE POWER OF THE PRESIDENCY TODAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY THAT'S NOT BEING DONE RIGHT NOW?

Gephardt: MY GREAT CONCERN IS THAT THIS PRESIDENT ACTS ON MOST THINGS IN FOREIGN POLICY IN A UNILATERAL WAY. HE DOES NOT GO TO THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS THAT WE, FRANKLY, ESTABLISHED OVER TIME, IN BOTH REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC ADMINISTRATIONS, AND GET THE COOPERATION AND THE HELP THAT WE NEED. AND I HAVE TOLD HIM REPEATEDLY "THAT WE NEED" IN DEALING WITH TOUGH INTERNATIONAL PROBLEMS LIKE IRAQ OR LIKE GLOBAL WARMING OR LIKE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL PROBLEMS OR ALL THE OTHER PROBLEMS --

Borg: BUT THE ADMINISTRATION IS ASKING NOW FOR MORE GLOBAL HELP IN IRAQ. IS THAT SMART AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY OVERALL?

Gephardt: HE SHOULD HAVE HAD THAT HELP A LONG TIME AGO. I TOLD HIM A YEAR AND A HALF AGO THAT IF HE WANTED TO DEAL WITH IRAQ THAT HE HAD TO GET THE U.N., HE HAD TO GET NATO, THAT WE NEEDED HELP. WE DIDN'T HAVE EITHER THE FINANCIAL ABILITY OR THE PEOPLE ABILITY TO HANDLE THIS ALONE. NOW, HE FINALLY TRIED, TOO LATE IN MY VIEW. I WISH HE HAD STARTED THAT EFFORT LONG BEFORE HE DID, BUT HE DIDN'T GET THE HELP BEFORE THE WAR. I ALWAYS TOLD HIM, "YOU'RE NOT GOING TO NEED THE HELP GOING IN, YOU'RE GOING TO NEED THE HELP IN THE AFTERMATH." AND THAT WAS RIGHT. THAT WAS EXACTLY RIGHT. BUT AFTER THE WAR FINISHED, HE STILL HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO GO BACK TO THE U.N., TO GO TO FRANCE AND RUSSIA AND GERMANY AND INDIA AND PAKISTAN AND OTHER COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD AND GET THE HELP THAT WE NEED. IT IS INCOMPREHENSIBLE TO ME THAT HE HAS NOT GOTTEN US THE HELP THAT WE NEED. THIS IS COSTING A BILLION DOLLARS A WEEK. IT'S COSTING US LIVES AND INJURIES TO OUR PEOPLE. WE NEED HELP AND IT WOULD BE A FAR DIFFERENT SITUATION IN IRAQ TODAY IF THE IRAQI PEOPLE SAW A TRULY INTERNATIONAL FORCE AND NOT JUST AN AMERICAN FORCE WITH A FEW BRITISH ATTACHED.

Beck: CONGRESSMAN, THEN TALKING ABOUT COST, WILL YOU APPROVE THE 80 -- OR VOTE FOR THE $87 BILLION THAT THE PRESIDENT IS ASKING FOR NOW? YOU DID SUPPORT THE RESOLUTION GIVING HIM THE AUTHORITY TO GO TO WAR. WILL THAT VOTE HURT YOU?

Gephardt: I'M GOING TO SUPPORT OUR PEOPLE OUT THERE IN IRAQ OR AFGHANISTAN OR WHEREVER THEY ARE --

Beck: BY APPROVING THE MONEY?

Gephardt: WELL, LET ME FINISH. I'M GOING TO APPROVE THE RESOURCES THAT OUR PEOPLE NEED. WE'RE NOT GOING TO ABANDON OUR PEOPLE AND WE CAN'T CUT AND RUN IN IRAQ. IF WE DO THAT, WE'LL DO SOMEWHAT WHAT WE DID IN AFGHANISTAN IN THE LATE '80S, AND THEN IRAQ WILL BE ANOTHER TERRORIST TRAINING CAMP. WE CAN'T DO THAT. IT'S WHY I SAY EVERY DAY WE NEED HELP AND WE NEED TO GET THE HELP THAT WE NEED. SO I WILL ALWAYS APPROVE THE RESOURCES THAT OUR TROOPS NEED, BUT WHEN IT COMES TO RECONSTRUCTION -- AND I'LL CONTINUE TO TELL THE PRESIDENT THAT HE'S GOT TO GET OUR PEOPLE THE HELP THAT THEY NEED. ON THE RECONSTRUCTION OF IRAQ, WE MUST GET INTERNATIONAL HELP AND WE ALSO HAVE TO HAVE SOME APPROPRIATIONS FOR HOMELAND SECURITY AT THE SAME TIME. SO I'M JUST -- I'M JUST NOT GOING TO WALK IN AND SAY, OH, LET'S GIVE HIM WHATEVER HE WANTS. WE'VE GOT TO ASK SOME TOUGH QUESTIONS. WE'VE GOT TO FIND OUT WHEN WE'RE GOING TO GET THE HELP FROM OTHER COUNTRIES, AND WE'VE GOT TO COUPLE ANY MONEYS THAT WE'RE GOING TO PUT INTO A COOPERATIVE EFFORT FOR RECONSTRUCTION OF IRAQ WITH MONEYS FOR HOMELAND SECURITY THAT WE DESPERATELY NEED HERE.

Beck: THAT SAID, THAT INITIAL VOTE SUPPORTING THE RESOLUTION TO GO TO WAR, WILL THAT HURT YOU AMONG DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS VOTERS?

Gephardt: I DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER TO THAT, BUT I DID WHAT I THOUGHT WAS RIGHT. I TOLD THE PRESIDENT IN THE OVAL OFFICE ON 9/12, THE DAY AFTER THE HORROR IN NEW YORK, THAT WE HAD TO TRUST ONE ANOTHER AND WE HAD TO PUT POLITICS ASIDE TO THE BEST OF OUR ABILITY AND TRY TO DO WHAT WAS RIGHT TO PROTECT OUR PEOPLE AND KEEP OUR PEOPLE SAFE. THAT'S OUR HIGHEST RESPONSIBILITY. NOW, I REALIZE THAT THERE WERE OTHER VIEWS ON WHETHER OR NOT TO DEAL WITH IRAQ. I HAD FIFTEEN YEARS OF INTELLIGENCE IN FRONT OF ME, NOT ONLY FROM THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION BUT FROM THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION, FROM THE CIA, FROM THE U.N. AND OTHER COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD THAT SADDAM HUSSEIN EITHER HAD WEAPONS OR THAT HE HAD THE COMPONENTS OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION OR THAT HE HAD THE ABILITY TO QUICKLY MANUFACTURE THEM. MY RESPONSIBILITY, IN MY VIEW -- AND THIS IS MY VIEW -- IS THAT WE HAVE TO PREVENT A FURTHER ATTACK OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES. WE HAD COBAR TOWERS, WE HAD '93 WORLD TRADE CENTER, WE HAD EMBASSIES BLOW UP IN AFRICA, WE HAD THE USS COLE, AND WE NEVER BELIEVED IT COULD HAPPEN HERE. 9/11 IT HAPPENED HERE. IT'S THE ULTIMATE WAKE-UP CALL. IF WE DON'T UNDERSTAND THAT, I DON'T KNOW WHAT WE UNDERSTAND. AND I BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO PREVENT FURTHER ATTACKS ON THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES.

Glover: LET'S HOP AROUND ON ISSUES AGAIN. YOU WERE AMONG THE FIRST OF THE DEMOCRATS TO COME OUT WITH A HEALTH CARE PROPOSAL. YOUR HEALTH CARE PROPOSAL IS MORE SWEEPING AND MORE EXPENSIVE THAN THOSE OFFERED BY YOUR RIVALS. WHAT'S YOUR CASE FOR YOUR HEALTH CARE PROPOSAL?

Gephardt: WELL, I THINK THAT I'VE GOT THE BEST PROPOSAL, AND I THINK I HAVE THE ONLY PROPOSAL THAT CAN REALLY STIMULATE THE ECONOMY AS WE SOLVE A MAJOR, MAJOR PROBLEM THAT EVERYBODY FACES IN THIS COUNTRY. MY PLAN IS THE ONLY PLAN THAT DEALS BOTH WITH EMPLOYEES THAT ALREADY HAVE INSURANCE AS WELL AS THOSE THAT DON'T HAVE INSURANCE, AND THAT'S A MAJOR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MY PLAN AND JOHN KERRY'S AND GOVERNOR DEAN'S AND MR. LIEBERMAN AND THE OTHER FOLKS' PLAN. IT'S THE ONLY PLAN THAT COVERS PART-TIME AS WELL AS FULL-TIME PEOPLE. IT'S THE ONLY PLAN THAT COVERS RETIREE HEALTH CARE AS WELL AS ACTIVE PEOPLE'S HEALTH CARE. SO IT IS A BIG PLAN, BUT IT'S THE ONLY PLAN THAT GETS THE JOB DONE AND OFFERS HELP TO EVERYBODY. IT'S ALSO, FINALLY, THE ONLY PLAN THAT REALLY STIMULATES ECONOMIC GROWTH. IT PUTS MORE MONEY IN THE AVERAGE FAMILY'S POCKETS THAN THE BUSH TAX CUTS, WHICH I ADVOCATE LAYING ASIDE TO FUND MY PLAN.

Beck: AND THAT ADVOCACY OF LAYING ASIDE THOSE TAX CUTS HAS DRAWN SOME CRITICISM. JOE LIEBERMAN SAID THAT IF WE REPEAL ALL THE TAX CUTS, INCLUDING THOSE FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY WILL AGAIN BE CONSIDERED THE PARTY OF BIG SPENDING AND HIGH TAXES, AND HE'S AFRAID THAT WILL HURT YOU IN THE GENERAL ELECTION. HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

Gephardt: WELL, I JUST CAN'T FIGURE OUT WHY IN THE WORLD WE SHOULD BE DEFENDING ANY PART OF THE BUSH TAX AND ECONOMIC PLAN. IT'S A FAILURE. IT HASN'T WORKED. IT HASN'T CREATED JOBS. IT HASN'T MOVED THIS COUNTRY IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. I THINK WE'VE GOT TO GIVE PEOPLE REAL CHOICES TO WIN THIS CAMPAIGN. I'M READY TO SAY TO THE VOTERS, "IF YOU LIKE THE BUSH TAX CUTS, IF YOU THINK THAT'S GREAT, VOTE FOR GEORGE BUSH. BUT IF YOU WANT HEALTH CARE THAT CAN NEVER BE TAKEN AWAY FROM YOU, IF YOU WANT TO PUT MORE MONEY IN THE AVERAGE FAMILY'S POCKET THAN THE BUSH TAX CUTS, THEN VOTE FOR ME." MY PLAN PUTS BETWEEN $2,000 AND $3,000 A YEAR INTO THE AVERAGE FAMILY'S POCKET. THE BUSH PLAN PUTS $700 IN THE AVERAGE FAMILY'S POCKET. I'LL TAKE THAT COMPARISON ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.

Glover: CONGRESSMAN, WE'VE GOT WAY TOO MANY ISSUES AND WAY TOO LITTLE TIME, SO LET'S GO TO ANOTHER ONE. YOU'VE BEEN CRITICAL OF SOME OF YOUR DEMOCRATIC RIVALS ON TRADE. YOU'VE OPPOSED SOME FREE-TRADE PROPOSALS. HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO ON TRADE? WOULD YOU ADVOCATE STRICTLY BILATERAL TRADE? WOULD YOU END OUR INVOLVEMENT WITH THE WTO? HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO ON THAT?

Gephardt: I HAVE DEFINED WHAT I BELIEVE TO BE A PROGRESSIVE, GOOD TRADE POLICY FOR THE LAST TWENTY YEARS. I DID IT WHEN WE CONSIDERED NAFTA. I WAS THE ONE SAYING THIS NAFTA COULD BE FIXED, IT COULD SERVE WHAT WE NEED DONE TO HOLD JOBS AND BUILD GOOD JOBS IN OTHER COUNTRIES, BUT IT DOESN'T DO IT. AND I OPPOSED MY OWN PRESIDENT, UNLIKE ANY OF THE OTHER CANDIDATES IN THIS RACE, ON NAFTA. I WAS MAJORITY LEADER AND BILL CLINTON, BELIEVE ME, WANTED ME TO BE FOR THIS TREATY THAT HE HAD NEGOTIATED. AND I TOLD HIM, "THIS IS NOT A GOOD TREATY, SIR, AND THIS IS NOT WHAT WE OUGHT TO BE DOING." AND I TOOK HIM ON. THE SAME WITH CHINA. NOW, I BELIEVE IN TRADE. I ALWAYS HAVE. YOU'D HAVE TO BE KIND OF NOT IN TOUCH WITH REALITY TO NOT BELIEVE IN TRADE, BUT I AM THE ONE WHO HAS SAID FOR TWENTY YEARS THAT WE HAVE TO USE THE ACCESS TO OUR CONSUMERS, WHICH IS WHAT ALL THE COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD WANT, TO GET IMPROVEMENT IN STANDARDS IN THESE OTHER COUNTRIES SO THAT WE'RE BUILDING CONSUMERS AND WORKERS IN THESE OTHER COUNTRIES THAT ARE PAID A DECENT WAGE. WE'VE GOT TO TREAT HUMAN BEINGS WITH DECENCY AND DIGNITY WHEREVER THEY ARE AND WHEREVER THEY WORK. SO ONE OF MY IDEAS IS I'D GO TO THE WTO AND I'D SAY TO THE WTO, "I WANT AN INTERNATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE." IT WILL BE DIFFERENT IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES, BUT WE HAVE TO START TO GET STANDARDS IN EVERY COUNTRY IN THIS WORLD. I WILL BE A PRESIDENT WHO WILL LEAD GLOBALIZATION OF THIS ECONOMY AND AN INTERNATIONAL TRADING SYSTEM THAT WILL BE GOOD NOT ONLY FOR AMERICAN WORKERS BUT FOR PEOPLE ALL OVER THIS WORLD.

Glover: BUT YOU WOULD CONTINUE WITH AMERICA'S INVOLVEMENT WITH ORGANIZATIONS LIKE THE WTO.

Gephardt: BUT I WOULD MAKE THOSE ORGANIZATIONS GET STANDARDS AND REQUIREMENTS THAT THEY SHOULD HAVE HAD A LONG TIME AGO. AND IF MY OPPONENTS IN THIS RACE HAD VOTED WITH ME AGAINST A BAD NAFTA AND AGAINST A BAD CHINA AGREEMENT, WE WOULD HAVE BEGUN TO HAVE THOSE STANDARDS A LONG TIME AGO.

Beck: CONGRESSMAN, WE JUST HAVE A FEW SECONDS LEFT, BUT WHY AREN'T DEMOCRATS HITTING THE PRESIDENT HARDER ON THE ENVIRONMENT, BECAUSE THERE ARE ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS THAT DECRY HIS ADMINISTRATION? IS THAT NOT AN ISSUE IN THIS CAMPAIGN?

Gephardt: THERE'S ONLY SO MANY ISSUES. WE CAN'T HAVE TIME TO GET TO EVERYTHING. HIS ENVIRONMENTAL RECORD IS HORRIBLE. HE'S UNWINDING REGULATIONS FOR CLEAN WATER AND CLEAN AIR BY THE DAY. HE HAS NO ENERGY PROGRAM. I MEAN HIS ENERGY PROGRAM WOULD HAVE BEEN GOOD FOR 1950 AND FOR BIG OIL COMPANIES --

Borg: SOUNDS LIKE THERE'S PLENTY OF DISCUSSION THERE FOR THE FUTURE, BUT WE HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE. THANK YOU, CONGRESSMAN GEPHARDT, FOR BEING HERE WITH US TODAY.

Gephardt: THANK YOU.

Borg: AND THAT'S IT FOR THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." I HOPE YOU'LL WATCH NEXT WEEKEND: REGULAR TIME, 7:30 FRIDAY, SUNDAY AT NOON. UNTIL NEXT WEEK, I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

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