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State Party Chairs Steve Roberts and Rob Tully

(#3148)
July 23, 2004

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IOWA PRESS #3148>>

Borg: DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS PREPARE FOR THEIR NATIONAL NOMINATING CONVENTIONS. INSIDER PERSPECTIVE FROM TWO FORMER STATE PARTY CHAIRS, THE REPUBLICANS' STEVE ROBERTS AND THE DEMOCRATS' ROB TULLY, 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, JULY 23 EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: DEMOCRATS GO FIRST. THEY'LL BE IN BOSTON NEXT WEEK TO OFFICIALLY ANOINT THEIR PRESIDENTIAL AND VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEES. REPUBLICANS FOLLOW NEXT MONTH IN NEW YORK CITY. CONVENTION TIMES ARE HIGH HOLIDAYS FOR PARTY ACTIVISTS WHO, THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, DO THE GRINDING CAMPAIGN WORK THAT WINS ELECTIONS. AND POLITICAL CONVENTIONS FEED POLITICAL JUNKIES TOO. AND WITH THAT IN MIND, I'LL REMIND YOU THAT PBS AND IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION WILL BRING YOU GAVEL-TO-GAVEL COVERAGE FROM BOTH THE DEMOCRATIC AND THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTIONS BEGINNING MONDAY EVENING. OUR COVERAGE FROM BOSTON IS EVERY EVENING FROM MONDAY THROUGH THURSDAY NEXT WEEK, 7:00 TO 10:00 EACH EVENING. AND THEN A MONTH LATER, DOING THE SAME THING, AUGUST 30 THROUGH SEPTEMBER 2, THE SAME COVERAGE, THREE HOURS NIGHTLY FROM THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTION IN NEW YORK CITY. FOR A PREVIEW OF WHAT THOSE CONVENTIONS AND THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS MIGHT LOOK LIKE, WE HAVE TWO POLITICAL INSIDERS: FORMER REPUBLICAN STATE PARTY CHAIR STEVE ROBERTS... HE'S NOW ON THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE; AND FORMER STATE DEMOCRATIC CHAIR ROB TULLY HEADED SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS' CAMPAIGN IN THE IOWA CAUCUSES TOO. GENTLEMEN, WELCOME BACK TO "IOWA PRESS." YOU'RE FAMILIAR FACES HERE.

Tully: GOOD TO BE HERE.

Roberts: ALWAYS GOOD TO BE HERE.

Borg: AND ACROSS THE TABLE: NEWS DIRECTOR KAY HENDERSON FOR "RADIO IOWA" AND "ASSOCIATED PRESS" SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: MR. TULLY, LET'S START WITH YOU. WE'RE HEADING INTO A CONVENTION SEASON AND YOURS COMES FIRST. THERE ARE THOSE WHO ARGUE THAT THE POLITICAL PARTIES AND TAXPAYERS ARE GOING TO SPEND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS ON AN ANACHRONISM THAT DOESN'T MATTER AND ISN'T RELEVANT ANYMORE. TELEVISION VIEWERSHIP IS DOWN. NETWORK TELEVISION PAYS LESS ATTENTION TO IT. WHY ARE WE HAVING CONVENTIONS?

Tully: WELL, IF I WAS TO GIVE YOU A FORMAL LINE, I WOULD SAY, YOU KNOW, IT IS TO OUTLINE OUR PLATFORM, ET CETERA. BUT IN REALITY THEY REALLY HAVE BECOME MAJOR COMMERCIALS, AND IT'S A THREE- OR FOUR-DAY EXPOSURE OF THE CANDIDATES TO MAYBE SOME OF THE PEOPLE THAT HAVEN'T BEEN PAYING ATTENTION. LIKE THE IOWA CAUCUSES, YOU KNOW, I KEPT TELLING PEOPLE NOT UNTIL AFTER JANUARY 1 IS THERE REALLY ANYBODY GOING TO PAY ATTENTION. AND REALLY IT ISN'T UNTIL AFTER JULY 4, AND I WOULD EVEN SAY EVEN AFTER LABOR DAY BEFORE PEOPLE ARE PAYING ATTENTION TO THE CAMPAIGNS.

Glover: MR. ROBERTS, SAME QUESTION TO YOU. WHY ARE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND TAXPAYERS GOING TO SPEND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR A CONVENTION THAT WILL HAVE, IF EVERYTHING GOES AS PLANNED, NO SURPRISES?

Roberts: I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT FOR THE NATIONAL PARTY TO GET TOGETHER AT LEAST ONCE EVERY FOUR YEARS. I PERSONALLY AM AN ADVOCATE FOR SHORTENING THE CONVENTIONS DOWN, AND I'VE BEEN -- I THINK IT'S A WASTE OF TIME TO BE AS LONG OF A CONVENTION. I THINK YOU COULD DO THE WORK IN AT LEAST THREE DAYS AND MAYBE TWO. AND IT'S ALSO VERY EXPENSIVE, SO I WOULD SAY THEY'RE IMPORTANT TO HAVE THEM BUT NOT FOR THE LENGTH OF TIME THAT WE HAVE THEM.

Glover: MR. TULLY, ANOTHER RELATED QUESTION. SINCE ATTENTION IS BEING PAID TO THESE CONVENTIONS AND TELEVISION VIEWERSHIP IS DOWN, CANDIDATES TRADITIONALLY COUNT ON GETTING A BOUNCE OUT OF THEIR CONVENTION. IS THAT BOUNCE IN DANGER?

Tully: YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT WE'RE GOING TO SEE A BOUNCE. AND IT'S JUST NATURALLY GOING TO HAPPEN BECAUSE THERE ARE GOING TO BE PEOPLE THAT ARE PAYING ATTENTION, THAT WILL WATCH. AND SPECIFICALLY, YOU KNOW, THE MAJOR NETWORKS AREN'T GOING TO CARRY UNTIL BASICALLY WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY, WHICH IS THE VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION AND THE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION. AND SO IT WILL BE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR BOTH JOHN EDWARDS AND JOHN KERRY, AND ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE THEIR CANDIDATES, TO BE ABLE TO LAY OUT, AT LEAST BRIEFLY, YOU KNOW, WHAT THEY WANT TO DO FOR THE COUNTRY. SO I THINK IT WORKS.

Henderson: MR. ROBERTS, YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU THINK THE CONVENTIONS CAN BE SHORTENED AND YOU THINK THERE IS VALUE IN HAVING PEOPLE COME TOGETHER ONCE EVERY FOUR YEARS. IS IT MORE VALUABLE TO THE PARTY TO HAVE THIS SORT OF A CORONATION, OR WAS THE PARTY ITSELF HEALTHIER WHEN YOU HAD SORT OF A FOOD FIGHT ABOUT WHO YOUR NOMINEE WOULD BE?

Roberts: WELL, I THINK IT'S MORE EXCITING TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC, BUT WE HAVEN'T HAD A FIGHT SINCE 1976. AND SINCE THEN IT'S BEEN -- THEY HAVE JUST BEEN BIG ADVERTISING THINGS. AND I THINK, UNFORTUNATELY, SOME OF THE POWERS THAT BE AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL THAT RUN THESE CONVENTIONS YEAR IN AND YEAR OUT THINK THEY'RE PUTTING ON A GREAT SHOW AND THAT THE PUBLIC IS JUST GOING TO LOVE IT. BUT I DON'T SEE IT MYSELF. I THINK THE BUSINESS OF THE CONVENTION, OBVIOUSLY RULES AND THE PLATFORM AND THEN HAVING THE VICE-PRESIDENT NOMINEE AND THEN THE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE SPEAK, I THINK THAT'S PLENTY AND THAT'S WHAT REALLY PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR. THE OTHER THING I THINK IS KIND OF ARTIFICIAL IS THIS ROLLING NOMINATION PROCESS WHEN YOU KNOW -- JUST HAVE IT AND GET IT OVER AND GET IT DONE AND GET ON WITH SOMETHING THAT'S MORE RELEVANT.

Henderson: MR. TULLY, SAME QUESTION TO YOU. IS YOUR PARTY HEALTHIER BECAUSE YOU HAVE THESE PREDETERMINED CONVENTIONS, OR IS IT HEALTHIER WHEN YOU HAVE A DEBATE AT THE NATIONAL CONVENTION WITH PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY IN ONE ROOM DEBATING ISSUES OF THE DAY?

Tully: WELL, I WILL SAY THIS AS A FORMER STATE CHAIR AND ALSO BEING AT THE CONVENTION IN 2000. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT IS THE GREATEST FEAR BY MOST OF US THAT ARE IN LEADERSHIP, THAT THERE MAY BE A FIGHT BECAUSE IT'S AN INCREDIBLE AMOUNT OF WORK BUT IT ALSO ZAPS A LOT OF ENERGY OUT OF PEOPLE. I MEAN, YOU KNOW, BY THE TIME THAT YOU GET TO THE NATIONAL CONVENTION, IT SHOULD BE ALL BUT OVER BUT THE SCREAMING BECAUSE WE NEED TO BE COMING TOGETHER, BECAUSE WHEN YOU GET INTO AUGUST, YOU HAVE TO BE LOOKING STRAIGHTFORWARD TOWARD NOVEMBER AND REALLY HAVE YOUR MARCHING ORDERS IN LINE AND TO DO YOUR BUSINESS.

Borg: WRAP UP JUST WHAT WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT HERE IN THE LAST FEW MINUTES. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE FUTURE OF THE POLITICAL CONVENTIONS?

Tully: WELL, YOU KNOW, IT'S INTERESTING. YOU KNOW, STEVE MADE A POINT. I THINK EVERYBODY WANTS THE NOMINATING TIME WINDOW TO BE SHORTER, TO GET US TO THE NOMINEES, AND THEN GET ON WITH THE CAMPAIGN. I WOULD SUSPECT -- AND MAYBE IT'S HOPEFUL THINKING THAT WE ACTUALLY DO SHORTEN THE CONVENTION. A FOUR-DAY CONVENTION TO ME IS KIND OF SILLY BECAUSE, AS GOING THROUGH IT IN 2000, YOU KNOW, A COUPLE OF DAYS WERE JUST LIKE [ YAWNING ] OH BOY, WHO IS THIS PERSON. THIS PERSON IS FROM RHODE ISLAND, AND THEY'RE A CITY COUNCILMAN, YOU KNOW. AND SO YOU REALLY WANT TO GET TO LET'S GET DOWN TO THE VICE PRESIDENT, THE PRESIDENT, AND LET'S GET MOVING.

Borg: IS THERE A WAY, STEVE ROBERTS, TO PUT SOME MORE INTRIGUE, BECAUSE THAT'S REALLY WHAT DROVE VIEWERSHIP AND LISTENERSHIP DECADES AGO?

Roberts: I THINK AS LONG AS YOU HAVE THE PROCESS WE HAVE NOW -- AND THERE'S BEEN SOME EFFORTS IN THE PAST TO CHANGE THAT AND, OF COURSE, WE IN IOWA ARE A LITTLE MIXED ABOUT THAT BECAUSE WE WANT TO KEEP OUR FIRST-IN-THE-NATION STATUS. AND IF YOU START CHANGING THE PROCESS, WE MIGHT GET HURT BY IT. BUT CLEARLY, YOU DON'T HAVE -- EVERYBODY IS WORRIED ABOUT A DEBATE OF NATIONAL ISSUES -- NATIONAL CONVENTION ON ISSUES OR ON RULES. THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS WE DIDN'T HAVE A DEBATE IN 2000 ABOUT CHANGING THE PRESIDENTIAL BECAUSE NOBODY WANTED TO HAVE ANY APPEARANCE OF CONFLICT AT THE CONVENTION. YET YOU LOOK BACK AT HISTORIC CONVENTIONS, I MEAN THEY WERE EXCITING AND YOU REALLY DID HAVE DEBATES. TAFT/EISENHOWER IN '52 AND WE COULD GO BACK TO THE ROOSEVELT CONVENTIONS IN THE '30S AND '40S, EVEN IN TIMES OF WAR.

Glover: MR. TULLY, MR. ROBERTS HAS RAISED THE ISSUE OF IOWA'S CAUCUSES. LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT BECAUSE THAT'S AN ISSUE THAT'S NOT GOING TO BE DEBATED AT THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION. BY TRADITION, AT THE CONVENTION THE RULES COMMITTEE SETS THE CALENDAR FOR THE NEXT ELECTION. THAT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN THIS TIME. THERE'S GOING TO BE A COMMISSION THAT'S GOING TO MAKE A RECOMMENDATION ABOUT THE CALENDAR AFTER THE ELECTION. ARE IOWA'S CAUCUSES IN DANGER?

Tully: WELL, I THINK IT DEPENDS. I THINK IF KERRY/EDWARDS TICKET WINS, WHICH I'M ANTICIPATING IT WILL, THE ANSWER IS IT'S NOT GOING TO MOVE, BECAUSE THE IOWA CAUCUSES WERE VERY GOOD TO JOHN KERRY AND JOHN EDWARDS AND I ANTICIPATE THAT'S REALLY WHERE THE POWER COMES IN THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS -- OR THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE IS THAT IF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES SAYS THIS IS THE WAY I WANT TO THE CALENDAR TO BE, THAT'S THE WAY CALENDAR IS GOING TO BE IN THE NOMINATING ASPECT.

Glover: BUT AREN'T YOU, IN EFFECT, BY GOING THROUGH THIS PROCESS, PUTTING THE FATE OF THE CAUCUSES IN THE HANDS OF JOHN KERRY: IF HE WINS, THE CAUCUSES STAY WHERE THEY ARE; IF HE LOSES, THAT GIVES ALL OF THESE OTHER STATES AN EXCUSE TO DO WHAT THEY WANT TO DO ALL ALONG?

Tully: WELL, LET'S PUT IT -- YOU KNOW, THE THING IS THAT THE CAUCUSES WERE VERY GOOD TO GEORGE W. BUSH AS WELL, AT LEAST ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE. AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE'VE DONE IN THE PAST IS TRY TO WORK -- AND I DID SUCCESSFULLY WITH ONE OF STEVE'S OTHER STATE CHAIRS -- IS THAT WE DID WORK TOGETHER TO KEEP THIS PROCESS MOVING SO THAT BOTH THE DEMOCRATS AND THE REPUBLICANS WOULD PRESERVE OUR FIRST-IN-THE-NATION STATUS. BUT TO GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE, IN 2000 THERE ACTUALLY WAS A MOVE IN THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE TO BRING TO THE FLOOR OF THE CONVENTION IOWA'S FIRST IN THE NATION. THAT WAS ONLY THE THIRD TIME THAT I FOUGHT THAT BATTLE DURING MY TENURE AS STATE CHAIR, AND WE WERE SUCCESSFUL TO KEEP IT FROM COMING TO THE FLOOR. AND OF COURSE, IT CAME THROUGH MICHIGAN. YOU KNOW, AS LONG AS THIS PROCESS IS GOING TO BE, MICHIGAN IS GOING TO FIGHT US EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.

Glover: MR. ROBERTS, WHAT ARE REPUBLICANS DOING?

Roberts: WE WILL BE IN FINE SHAPE AS FAR AS FIRST IN THE NATION. THE RULES HAVE BEEN MORE OR LESS FINALIZED. THEY'LL BE FINALIZED AT THE CONVENTION IN NEW YORK CITY. AND THEY WILL BE THE RULES FOR THE 2008 CONVENTION, AND IOWA STAYS FIRST IN THE NATION.

Glover: DO YOU THINK DEMOCRATS MADE A MISTAKE?

Roberts: WELL, I WOULDN'T PRESUME TO GET INTO THE WORKINGS OF THE OTHER PARTY. I WILL SAY -- SECOND WHAT ROB SAYS. WE WORKED VERY CLOSELY WITH THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY ON THIS ISSUE. IN FACT, WE WORKED WITH GORDON FISHER WHEN MICHIGAN REARED ITS UGLY HEAD THIS CYCLE. I DON'T CARE HOW THEY GET THERE, BUT WE WANT TO HAVE -- BE FIRST IN THE NATION, AND WE HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER TO GET THAT DONE.

Glover: JUST PUT ON YOUR, SORT OF, STRATEGIST HAT HERE FOR A SECOND. DO YOU AGREE WITH MR. TULLY THAT THE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUSES, AT LEAST, ARE IN THE HANDS OF JOHN KERRY?

Roberts: I THINK WE'RE GETTING OUT INTO SPECULATION RELATIVE TO THE NOMINEES AND THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN 2008, BUT I THINK HILLARY CLINTON BEING ANOTHER PRIMARY PROSPECT WOULD VIEW IOWA FAVORABLY AS WELL, SO I'M NOT AS -- I MEAN I WOULD TRUST MR. TULLY TO HAVE A BETTER HANDLE ON THAT, BUT FROM THE OUTSIDER'S VIEW, IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THERE'S A NUMBER OF DEMOCRATIC PROMINENT PEOPLE WHO LIKE THE IOWA CAUCUSES. IT'S WORKED WELL FOR THEM AS IT HAS WORKED WELL FOR OUR PARTY.

Henderson: THIS MONTH THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF FOCUS ON THE NUMBER TWO PERSON ON BOTH TICKETS. LET'S TALK ABOUT SENATOR EDWARDS. YOU SUPPORTED HIM IN THE CAUCUSES, MR. TULLY.

Tully: I DID.

Henderson: WHEN HE GETS UP TO GIVE THAT ACCEPTANCE SPEECH ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT, WILL IOWANS BE ABLE TO RECITE WORD FOR WORD ALONG WITH HIM THE SPEECH HE'LL GIVE? [ LAUGHTER ]

Tully: WELL, YOU'LL PROBABLY NOTE THAT HE WAS BORN IN A SMALL TOWN AND HIS FATHER WAS A MILL WORKER AND THAT HE WORKED HIS WAY THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE --

Henderson: I THINK THE ANSWER IS YES. [ LAUGHTER ]

Tully: SO YOU WILL PROBABLY SEE A LITTLE BIT OF THAT. BUT I ALSO THINK THAT YOU WILL ALSO SEE MORE OF WHAT YOU SAW TOWARD THE END OF HIS CAMPAIGN, AND THAT IS WHAT REALLY I THINK FUELED THIS CAMPAIGN TOWARD THE END: THE TWO AMERICAS AND TALKING ABOUT POVERTY IN AMERICA AND, YOU KNOW, HIGHLIGHTING AN AGENDA THAT I THINK THAT THE KERRY/EDWARDS TICKET WANTS TO TAKE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND HOPEFULLY TO A VICTORY IN NOVEMBER.

Henderson: LET'S TURN TO THE REPUBLICAN TICKET. THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF TALK ABOUT THE NUMBER TWO PERSON ON THAT TICKET. WILL DICK CHENEY GET BOOTED OFF WAS THE SUBJECT OF SPECULATION THIS MONTH. IN YOUR OPINION, IS DICK CHENEY SORT OF A DRAG ON PRESIDENT BUSH'S REELECTION CHANCES?

Roberts: I DON'T THINK SO. I MEAN I THINK HE'S PLAYED -- HE'S A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF THAT ADMINISTRATION. HE'S VERY IMPORTANT TO THE PRESIDENT. IT'S A WINNING TEAM, AND I THINK THAT'S MAINLY MEDIA SPECULATION. IN FACT, UNTIL IT STARTED POLLING FOR DELEGATE POLLS ABOUT WHETHER CHENEY WAS GOING TO BE ON THE TICKET, NONE OF US HAD EVER EVEN CONTEMPLATED --

Glover: WELL, WHAT DOES IT SAY WHEN NATIONAL REPUBLICAN FIGURES -- PROMINENT NATIONAL REPUBLICAN FIGURES SUGGEST THAT CHENEY NEEDS TO BE REPLACED?

Roberts: WHICH ONES ARE THOSE?

Glover: AL D'AMATO.

Roberts: WELL, HE'S A FORMER SENATOR. I THINK YOU'RE ALWAYS GOING TO HAVE THOSE KINDS OF SITUATIONS. BACK IN THE '50S, EISENHOWER -- THERE WAS A SUGGESTION THAT EISENHOWER SHOULD REPLACE NIXON IN 1956. IT DIDN'T HAPPEN. AND CLEARLY IN THIS CASE, BECAUSE CHENEY HAS BEEN PROBABLY THE MOST ACTIVE VICE PRESIDENT IN TERMS OF ACTUALLY WORKING IN POLICY THAT WE'VE HAD --

Henderson: YET IS THERE A DANGER IN HAVING DICK CHENEY BE THE NUMBER TWO? AND IF GEORGE BUSH IS INDEED REELECTED FOR ANOTHER TERM, HE MAY NOT RUN FOR PRESIDENT. SO YOU WOULD HAVE A FREE-FOR-ALL. THERE'S NO SUCCESSOR APPARENT. I MEAN IS THAT A PROBLEM FOR YOUR PARTY IN THAT DICK CHENEY PROBABLY WOULD NOT RUN FOR PRESIDENT?

Tully: I THINK WE'RE GOING TO -- WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A CHALLENGE IN 2008 BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE A COUPLE OF MAJOR STARS LIKE THE DEMOCRATS DO IN HILLARY CLINTON AND JOHN EDWARDS. SO REGARDLESS OF WHETHER CHENEY IS THE NOMINEE, I THINK THAT'S GOING TO BE A CHALLENGE FOR US. NOW, WE DO HAVE JOHN MCCAIN, BUT THERE ARE OTHER --

Glover: DO YOU? [ LAUGHTER ]

Roberts: WELL, HE DIDN'T SIGN UP WITH THE OTHER TICKET, AND HE CAME OUT VERY STRONGLY FOR BUSH.

Glover: MR. TULLY, LET'S LOOK PAST THE CONVENTIONS FOR JUST A SECOND AND LOOK TO THE FALL ELECTIONS. THIS IS A BATTLEGROUND STATE THAT'S PRETTY EVENLY DIVIDED. IT WAS SETTLED BY 4,000 VOTES FOUR YEARS AGO. WHAT'S YOUR SENSE OF WHAT'S DRIVING THE ELECTORATE IN THIS STATE?

Tully: WELL, YOU KNOW, IF YOU LOOK AT THE CAUCUSES, WE REALLY DID HAVE RECORD TURNOUTS. MY OWN PRECINCT THAT NORMALLY WE HAVE AT THE MAX 100 PEOPLE, 309 PEOPLE SHOWED UP. AND THERE IS AN UNDERLYING ANGER AMONG DEMOCRATS OVER THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION POLICIES. AND MORE SO THIS YEAR THAN ANY YEAR I'VE EVER SEEN BEFORE, PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY FIRED UP. THEY'RE SAYING TO THEMSELVES: YOU KNOW, WHAT CAN I DO; IS THERE ENVELOPES FOR ME TO LICK; ARE THERE PHONE CALLS FOR ME TO MAKE; DO YOU WANT ME TO GO DOOR TO DOOR? AND I THINK THE ADDITION OF JOHN EDWARDS TO THE TICKET HAS EVEN FUELED THAT EVEN MORE THAT PEOPLE -- DEMOCRATS I CAN TELL YOU ARE ACTUALLY EXCITED ABOUT THIS ELECTION, WHERE BEFORE THEY WEREN'T QUITE SURE. AND, YOU KNOW, I'D LIKE TO GO BACK AND JUST SAY BRIEFLY, I REALLY THINK IT WOULD BE A TOUGHER TICKET IF BUSH PUT GIULIANI OR SOMEBODY OF THAT STATURE ON THE TICKET THIS TIME AND, YOU KNOW, THEY COULD USE ALL SORTS OF EXCUSES TO LET CHENEY BOW OUT GRACEFULLY, WHETHER IT BE HEALTH OR ANYTHING ELSE. YOU KNOW, RIGHT NOW I'D RATHER HAVE CHENEY ON THE TICKET BECAUSE ALL THE THINGS WITH HALLIBURTON AND EVERYTHING ELSE, IT MAKES FOR GOOD FODDER FOR THE TV.

Glover: MR. ROBERTS, SAME QUESTION TO YOU. YOU'VE BEEN AROUND POLITICS FOR QUITE A WHILE. THIS IS AN EVENLY DIVIDED STATE, A FLIP-OF-THE-COIN STATE. WHAT'S YOUR SENSE OF WHAT'S DRIVING VOTERS, AND NOT JUST REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC VOTERS BUT THOSE VOTERS IN THE MIDDLE?

Roberts: I THINK IT WAS THE ECONOMY. I NOW THINK IT'S THE WAR ON TERROR, BUT MORE SPECIFICALLY IRAQ. I THINK THAT'S A BIG ISSUE, AND THE QUESTION OF THE POLICIES THERE.

Glover: ISN'T THAT A PROBLEM FOR YOUR PRESIDENT? MOST OF THE POLLS I'VE SEEN ARE NOT TERRIBLY FAVORABLE TOWARDS HIS HANDLING OF THE WAR ON TERROR.

Roberts: I THINK WE'RE WAY TOO EARLY TO TELL THAT. THIS IS A SITUATION THAT IS SO VOLATILE THAT IT MAY DEPEND LITERALLY ON THE WEEK AND WHAT'S GOING THAT WEEK. YOU'VE SEEN, FOR EXAMPLE, LAST FALL WHEN SADDAM HUSSEIN WAS CAPTURED, THEN PEOPLE FELT BETTER ABOUT THE WAR, BUT CLEARLY --

Glover: FOR A WEEK OR SO.

Roberts: FOR A WEEK OR SO. BUT CLEARLY, MODERN WAR TODAY WITH TELEVISION AND COMMUNICATION AND, FRANKLY, I HEAR A LOT OF COMPLAINTS FROM PEOPLE, PARTICULARLY THAT HAVE BEEN IN IRAQ, THAT THEY'RE NOT GETTING THE FULL STORY, THAT IT'S ALWAYS THE NEGATIVE. IT'S A CHALLENGE.

Borg: WELL, TELL ME, WHAT WORRIES YOU THE MOST THAT COULD HAPPEN?

Roberts: YOU MEAN --

Borg: EVENTS.

Roberts: WELL, I -- MY VIEW IS THAT THINGS ARE GETTING BETTER THERE BUT --

Borg: WHAT WOULD TORPEDO THE PRESIDENT IF IT WERE TO HAPPEN?

Roberts: I -- I SUPPOSE -- IT'S VERY HARD TO SPECULATE ON THAT. I'M MORE THINKING THAT SOMETHING GOOD IS GOING TO HAPPEN THAT WILL MAKE IT A BETTER SITUATION FOR THE PRESIDENT.

Glover: MR. TULLY, LET'S LOOK AT THE DYNAMICS THAT'S GOING ON HERE. MR. ROBERTS SAYS HE THINKS THAT THE ELECTION IS INCREASINGLY ABOUT THE WAR ON IRAQ. MOST OF THE POLLS SHOW THAT THE PUBLIC IS NOT ENAMORED OF THE PRESIDENT'S HANDLING OF IRAQ, AND YET YOUR CANDIDATE DOESN'T HAVE A TERRIBLY DIFFERENT POSITION. ARE YOU IN A POSITION TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT?

Tully: WELL, I THINK THAT KERRY'S POSITION HAS BEEN ARTICULATED THAT BUSH HAS GONE ABOUT POST IRAQ IN A MOST ERRATIC WAY, IN FACT, BASICALLY HAVING NO PLAN AND NOT REALLY BRINGING IN THE U.N. AND WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE DONE AT THE BEGINNING, AT LEAST BASED UPON KERRY'S OWN ADMISSIONS. YOU KNOW, I THINK IRAQ IS -- I THINK DEAN BRINGS UP A GOOD POINT THAT THERE MAY BE SOME THINGS THAT MAY HAPPEN BETWEEN NOW AND NOVEMBER THAT NONE OF US HAVE ANY CONTROL OVER THAT MAY PUSH THINGS ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. IF THERE'S ANOTHER TERRORIST ATTACK AND, YOU KNOW, BUSH IS DECISIVE IN HIS RESPONSE, YOU KNOW, HIS POSITIVES COULD FINALLY GO UP, BECAUSE HIS NEGATIVES HAVE BEEN GROWING INCREASINGLY OVER THE POST IRAQ WAR. YOU KNOW, I'M LIKE ANYBODY ELSE EXCEPT THAT I DON'T WANT ANYTHING BAD TO HAPPEN ANYMORE IN IRAQ. I DON'T WANT MORE AMERICANS BEING KILLED. WE NEED TO HAVE SOMETHING AT LEAST HOPEFULLY FOR AMERICA TO GO RIGHT. BUT I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF THINGS THAT CAN GO WRONG THAT COULD BE EITHER DETRIMENTAL TO EITHER DEMOCRATS OR REPUBLICANS, DEPENDING ON THE VIEW.

Roberts: I WANT TO ADD ONE OTHER THING. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THERE'S ALL THIS TALK ABOUT GETTING THE UNITED NATIONS INVOLVED BUT I -- I NOTE THAT IT SEEMS TO BE VERY DIFFICULT TO GET THE UNITED NATIONS INVOLVED IN IRAQ. AND I'M WONDERING WHETHER THEY EVER WOULD HAVE GOTTEN INVOLVED EVEN IF WE HADN'T GONE THE WAY WE'VE GONE. I MEAN IT'S JUST A REAL FRUSTRATING THING. SO TO SAY THAT WE'RE TRYING TO GET THE UNITED NATIONS INVOLVED, THAT'S ALL WELL AND GOOD, BUT I DON'T THINK THEY'RE REAL WILLING TO DO THAT.

Henderson: MR. ROBERTS, HAVE YOU SEEN FAHRENHEIT 911.

Roberts: I HAVE INDEED.

Henderson: WHAT DID YOU THINK?

Roberts: I THOUGHT IT WAS A RIVETING PRESENTATION. IT'S OBVIOUSLY PROPAGANDA -- I MEAN IT'S ONE-SIDED BUT IT CLEARLY MAKES YOU THINK AND I THINK IT'S SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE SHOULD SEE. BUT KEEP IN MIND THAT IT IS A ONE-SIDED VIEW OF A VERY DIFFICULT SITUATION.

Henderson: DOES IT HURT YOUR CANDIDATE?

Roberts: I DON'T THINK IT HURTS MY CANDIDATE AS MUCH AS IT MIGHT -- AS ONE MIGHT THINK BECAUSE, FRANKLY, THE PEOPLE -- MOST OF THE PEOPLE THAT ARE GOING TO SEE IT ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE ALREADY CONVINCED AND HAVE ALMOST A --

Glover: THE BOX OFFICE SAYS $100 MILLION, MR. ROBERTS. I DON'T THINK THERE'S $100 MILLION WORTH OF DEMOCRATS OUT THERE. [ LAUGHTER ]

Roberts: WELL, ARE YOU INDICATING THAT DEMOCRATS CAN'T AFFORD TO GO TO THAT KIND OF --

Glover: NO, I'M INDICATING THAT IT'S REACHING A LARGE MASS AUDIENCE.

Roberts: I THINK IT IS BUT I DON'T THINK THE EFFECT OF IT IS NECESSARILY THAT EVERYBODY BUYS INTO THE SITUATION. I WITNESSED THE LITTLE INCIDENT THAT HAPPENED WITH LINDA RONSTADT OUT IN LAS VEGAS, WHICH IS NOT EXACTLY A REPUBLICAN STRONGHOLD.

Henderson: MR. TULLY, IS THERE A HIDDEN ISSUE THAT REPORTERS ARE MISSING THAT'S PERHAPS PERCOLATING THROUGH THE ELECTORATE THIS YEAR, OR IS IT BASICALLY WHAT YOU TWO HAVE OUTLINED, THE WAR AND THE ECONOMY AND THAT'S IT?

Tully: YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT IS BUT I ALSO THINK ALSO UNDERNEATH IS THERE IS A GROWING DISTRUST AGAIN OF OUR GOVERNMENT IN THAT THEY'RE NOT BEING TOTALLY HONEST WITH US. YOU KNOW, AS YOU GET THE REPORTS COMING OUT OF WASHINGTON IN TERMS OF, YOU KNOW, THE 9/11 REPORT THAT, HOLY BUCKETS, YOU KNOW, WE WERE WAY OFF IN TERMS OF SOME OF OUR PREPARATIONS. BUT ADDED TO THAT, THE WAR IN IRAQ THAT NO WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. AND YOU KNOW, I STILL HEAR -- I WAS TALKING TO NOT A PERSONAL FRIEND OF STEVE'S BUT A REPUBLICAN THE OTHER DAY THAT WAS SAYING, "WELL, YOU KNOW, THEY FOUND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION." I SAID, "THEY DID?" "OH, YEAH." WELL, THERE'S PEOPLE THAT BELIEVE THAT. AND SO I MEAN THERE IS A -- I THINK THERE'S AN UNDERLYING ASPECT THAT SOME PEOPLE ARE JUST BEING VERY ANGRY ABOUT THE FACT THAT WE'RE JUST NOT BEING TOLD THE TRUTH ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT'S GOING ON.

Roberts: WELL, AND IT'S ALSO SO CONFUSING BECAUSE YOU WANT TO TAKE TIME ON THIS PROGRAM ON THIS WILSON THING, BUT APPARENTLY THE BRITISH NOW HAVE THAT THERE WAS SOME CONNECTION IN NUCLEAR WEAPONS WITH NIGERIA OR WHATEVER THAT WAS. AND PEOPLE ARE BEGINNING TO WONDER WHAT IS THE BASIC TRUTH BECAUSE IT'S ALL OVER THE PIKE, AND NOW SANDY BERGER HAS RUN OFF WITH -- ALLEGEDLY RUN OFF WITH DOCUMENTS. IT'S VERY CONFUSING FOR PEOPLE.

Glover: LET'S MOVE FROM NUCLEAR WEAPONS TO THE STATEHOUSE, MR. ROBERTS.

Roberts: A MUCH NICER TOPIC. [ LAUGHTER ]

Glover: YOU SPEND A LOT OF TIME AROUND THE STATEHOUSE. ONE OF THE QUIETER RACES THAT'S GOING ON THIS YEAR -- IT'S NOT GETTING A LOT OF ATTENTION -- IS THE BATTLE FOR CONTROL OF THE IOWA LEGISLATURE. REPUBLICANS CONTROL BOTH CHAMBERS BY RELATIVELY NARROW MARGINS. BOTH PARTIES TELL ME THEY'VE GOT GOOD CANDIDATES. BOTH PARTIES TELL ME THEY'RE SET TO HAVE A GOOD FALL. HANDICAP THAT.

Roberts: I THINK THE REPUBLICANS WILL CLEARLY KEEP CONTROL OF THE HOUSE. I THINK THE SENATE AT THE MOMENT IS MORE CHALLENGING. AGAIN, WE'RE IN JULY AND A LOT CAN HAPPEN, AND SO WE HAVE TO TEMPER ANYTHING WE SAY AT THIS POINT WITH THAT KIND OF A COMMENT. BUT WE'VE GOT SOME CONCERNS IN THE SENATE THAT I THINK ARE VALID. AND WE'VE GOT GOOD CANDIDATES BUT WE'VE GOT GOOD OPPONENTS AND THEY'VE GOT SOME ISSUES THAT COULD HURT US THERE.

Glover: MR. TULLY, SAME QUESTION TO YOU. HANDICAP IT. DO THE DEMOCRATS HAVE A SHOT AT EITHER CHAMBER?

Tully: I THINK THEY DO AND I DO THINK THAT WE HAVE A GOOD SHOT AT THE SENATE, BUT I DON'T DISCOUNT PAT MURPHY'S LEADERSHIP IN THE IOWA HOUSE AND THAT WE'LL -- WE'RE GOING TO ACTUALLY DO SOME THINGS THAT WE HAVEN'T DONE BEFORE THAT THE REPUBLICANS HAVE DONE EXTREMELY WELL, AND THAT IS POLL IN OCTOBER. AND WHEN THAT PROCESS GOES THROUGH, YOU CAN TARGET A LOT BETTER. YOUR DIRECT MAILINGS HIT ON THE MARK A LITTLE BIT BETTER. THEY HAVE BEEN VERY GOOD AT THAT IN THE PAST, AND WE'RE GOING TO TAKE A PAGE OUT OF THEIR PLAYBOOK TO DO THE SAME THING BACK AT THEM. AND I THINK THAT WE CAN BE VERY SUCCESSFUL WITH THAT.

Henderson: GENTLEMEN, WITH ALL DUE RESPECT TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ON THE BALLOT THIS YEAR, IT'S KIND OF A BORING ELECTION IN IOWA, AND A LOT OF HEADS ARE TURNING TO THE NEXT ELECTION, THE GOVERNOR'S RACE THAT WILL BE COMING UP. MR. ROBERTS, WHO ARE THE HORSES THAT ARE LINING UP ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE, AND WHO DO YOU THINK HAS THE INSIDE SHOT?

Roberts: WELL, WE PROBABLY DON'T HAVE TIME TO GET YOU A COMPLETE LIST -- [ LAUGHTER ] -- AND I'D PROBABLY MISS SOME IN THE PROCESS. AT ONE TIME I HAD ABOUT TEN CANDIDATES. BUT, CLEARLY, SOME OF THE ONES THAT ARE OUT THERE, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER: JIM NUSSLE -- JIM NUSSLE FROM OVER IN MANCHESTER; BOB VANDER PLAATS FROM SIOUX CITY; DOUG GROSS FROM DES MOINES. OTHER POSSIBILITIES WOULD BE CHRIS RANTS OF SIOUX CITY, DANNY CARROLL, JEFF LAMBERTI, MIKE WHELAN, ON AND ON. I MEAN THERE'S JUST A LOT OF PEOPLE.

Glover: MR. TULLY, SAME QUESTION TO YOU. THIS GOVERNOR HAS SAID HE'S NOT GOING TO RUN FOR A SECOND TERM. WHO'S LINING UP TO RUN --

Tully: WELL, I THINK THAT YOU WOULD BE REMISS IF YOU DIDN'T MENTION THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR AT THAT. ALSO, SECRETARY OF STATE CHET CULVER HAS MADE SOME SERIOUS INROADS IN LOOKING AT A POSSIBILITY OF A RUN. THERE HAS BEEN TALK ABOUT MIKE BLOUIN, OUR ECONOMIC DIRECTOR, ABOUT POSSIBLY PUTTING HIS HAT IN THE RING. AS YOU KNOW, HE'S A FORMER CONGRESSMAN FROM MY NECK OF THE WOODS AND I THINK STILL FAIRLY POPULAR OVER IN THAT SIDE OF THE THING. BUT HERE'S THE THING THAT I WILL TELL YOU, THAT IF KERRY/EDWARDS, IF THE WAR COMES TO AN END AND THEY DO NOT GET ELECTED IN NOVEMBER, DON'T BE SURPRISED IF GOVERNOR VILSACK MAY CHANGE HIS MIND AND POSSIBLY RUN FOR A THIRD TERM.

Glover: AND WHY DO YOU SAY THAT? WHAT DO YOU BASE THAT ON?

Tully: I DON'T BASE IT ON ANYTHING, AND MAYBE IT'S WISHFUL THINKING. BUT, YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU HAVE A FAIRLY SUCCESSFUL GOVERNOR THAT HAS BEEN GOOD AND VERY POPULAR AMONG IOWANS, I THINK THAT HE MIGHT RECONSIDER IT FOR THE GOOD OF THE STATE.

Borg: I THOUGHT MAYBE CHRISTIE VILSACK MIGHT HAVE BEEN WHISPERING TO YOU. [ LAUGHTER ]

Borg: THANKS, GENTLEMEN. WE'RE OUT OF TIME. THANKS FOR YOUR INSIGHTS. ALWAYS INTERESTING. NEXT WEEK ON "IOWA PRESS," MORE PERSPECTIVE ON THE SUMMER CAMPAIGN SEASON FROM IOWA POLITICAL REPORTERS WHO COVER THE CANDIDATES. A REPORTERS ROUNDTABLE IS NEXT WEEKEND, REGULAR TIME: 7:30 FRIDAY; SUNDAY AT NOON. AND I LEAVE YOU WITH A PROGRAM REMINDER THAT I MENTIONED EARLIER. PBS AND IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION WILL BRING YOU GAVEL-TO-GAVEL COVERAGE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY CONVENTION NEXT WEEK IN BOSTON AND IN LATE AUGUST FROM THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATING CONVENTION. THAT'S IN NEW YORK CITY. COVERAGE BEGINS EACH EVENING AT 7:00, AND IT STARTS THIS MONDAY NIGHT. IT CONTINUES WITH THREE HOURS NIGHTLY THROUGH THURSDAY. SAME TELECAST SCHEDULED FOR THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTION BEGINNING MONDAY, AUGUST 30. WELL, THAT'S IT FOR THIS WEEKEND'S EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." NICE TO HAVE YOU ALONG. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

 

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