October 14, 2003 | Broadcast

American Morning

CLIFF MAY, FMR. RNC COMM. DIR: Well, probably. But you know, I hope that the Bush administration is not guiding itself only by polls. The administration needs to do the right thing, have the right policies, defend them correctly, and then hope over time people will come along and see.
And my one complaint about the PR campaign so far is not that it’s not correct, it is correct. Things are going much better in most of Iraq than people understand or realize. There’s been great progress. My complaint is it doesn’t go far enough. The violence that Soledad just talked about, it is taking place, and the Bush administration needs to explain that this is the way war looks in the 21st century. Since 9/11, we’ve decided to fight back against the terrorist, and that often means the kind of violence we’re seeing in a country that still has 130 ammunition supply dumps, some the size of Manhattan, that has terrorists coming in from Syria and Iran. We’re going to fight there a long time. But if we don’t fight in Baghdad, we’re going to fight in Boston, so let’s understand that.

HEMMER: I mentioned the polls numbers. Look at another one here, Victor, get you to respond to it. Asked whether or not they would vote for the president in the year 2004, on this polling, it’s even, 38 percent to 38 percent. Large number could go either way, 24 percent. Does that tell you the country is still a 50/50 nation?

VICTOR KAMBER, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: No question about it. I think the country has been 50/50. The president lived off of some crises earlier on that shot his ratings up, and lived off of some photo opportunities. He’s running a PR campaign. And as John Kerry said recently, we don’t need PR, we need policy.  The fact is there is no policy in Iraq today. Last week are the four principle advisers of the president, Condoleezza Rice, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, each one saying something different about where we stand in Iraq and what the policy in Iraq is. When the president got on television a few minutes ago and said, you know, we need to tell the American people the truth, I agree. And I think he’s been lying to the American people.

HEMMER: Lying?

KAMBER: Absolute lying. We do not have the truth from this man, or he doesn’t know the truth, one or the other. The fact is, we do not have a policy that is consistent in this country, we do not have someone calling the shots. We don’t have a direction right now in Iraq.

MAY: You know…

HEMMER: Go ahead, cliff.

MAY: The policy is pretty simple — for about 20 years, Republicans and Democrats alike, we tried to ignore terrorism, or appease terrorism. We didn’t fight back. On 09/11, we began to fight back, not because a general ordered it or not because a government official ordered it, but because Tom Bremer (ph), aboard one of the planes said, you know what, we’re not going to die like sheep. Now that policy that Todd Bremer started is the policy now — we’re going to fight terrorists whenever we find them. Right now, the major theater in this war is Iraq. That’s too bad. We have to win there. I don’t think even Victor would say, let’s cut and…

HEMMER: You meant Todd Beamer, is that right, Cliff?

MAY: Todd Beamer, I’m sorry.

KAMBER: That’s the policy. We can’t cut and run, yet there is no answer how to end the chaos that’s there. The president’s unwilling to go to world leaders and ask for the kind of help we need. He’s unwilling to surrender power. I mean, just this week, Dick Cheney says once again that Saddam Hussein and 9/11 were, were a link together. Last week, Condoleezza Rice says that’s just not correct. What is correct? What’s true? What’s true? I just want one set of truth from this administration.

MAY: There’s nothing we can say to Victor that’s going to satisfy him.

KAMBER: I just want one line.

MAY: Victor is glad Saddam Hussein is gone, but didn’t want to do anything about it. Victor understands that we can’t cut and run from Iraq, but he also doesn’t want to stay there. He’s like to give it over to, I don’t the French or something.

KAMBER: The French, the Germans, the world.

HEMMER: Let me interject one thing here. The president did a number of interviews yesterday with local media outlets, to essentially circumvent the whole national media and communicate to a different audience.  I want to play you part of what he said yesterday about polls and also how he says the world is now being reshaped based on his decisions. Listen to this carefully.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, I just don’t make decisions on polls, and I can’t worry about polls. I mean, I put in place policies that have got big ramifications for America, big positive ramifications. And not only is the country more secure, but the world is going to be more peaceful based upon some of the decision I made. And I fully recognize that you know, not everybody agrees.


HEMMER: The president from one interview yesterday. the world is going to be more peaceful based on some of the decisions I made, heavy statement there.

MAY: Yes, what he was saying — and I think the way the world did change after 9/11, and most people agree with that, is that now we are going to fight those who sponsor terrorism, those who encourage terrorism, we’re going to fight the ideologies that drive terrorism. That means Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

MAY: So how do you convince people the policies are indeed the right ones?

MAY: Because for 20 years, our policy of ignoring and appeasing terrorist who attacked us in 1993 at the World Trade Center, who attached our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, who the attacked USS Cole and our embassy and Marine barracks in 1983, those policies failed. Now we’re trying something different, which is fighting back.

KAMBER: We need one thing the president needs to do. He told us yesterday what he doesn’t do. He doesn’t make decision based on polls. Let’s find out what he makes decision based on. Because right now, there are no decisions. His four principle leaders — Dick Lugar questioned him just yesterday. His four principle leaders are saying four different things. So how is the man making a decision, or is he making one?

HEMMER: We’ve got to leave it there. Cliff May, Victor Kamber, good discussion, thank you.