October 21, 2003 | Broadcast

American Morning

Democratic consultant Victor Kamber is back with us, and former Republican National communications chief Clifford May back with us as well. Kamber and May, we call it.

Nice to see you, gentlemen. Good morning.

We started with Victor last time. We’ll start with Cliff this time. What do you consider a victory in Madrid this week?

CLIFF MAY, FMR. RNC COMM. DIR.: I would say a victory is if we get some help that — for the reconstruction of Iraq. The U.S. was the major donor to the Marshall Plan after we overthrew fascist dictatorships in Europe back in the 1940s. We would now like to say the Europeans and others, we’ve overthrown a fascist dictator, you should come in and help with us the reconstruction.

HEMMER: Define some help.

MAY: Look, I don’t think we’re going to get a whole lot. We’re getting some pretty good help from the Japanese, although their economy isn’t good. I don’t expect a lot of help from the French, unfortunately, for their own reasons. But I think — look, it was a victory that we got a 15-0 vote in the U.N., given the good housekeeping seal of approval to what we’re doing in Iraq. And we’ve also said if the donors want to give it to a separate fund for humanitarian cause, that’s OK, as long as we have political and military control. I think we do what we can to convince the world that it’s worth trying to establish the first democracy ever in the Muslim world in the Middle East.

HEMMER: Can you win in Madrid, Victor?

KAMBER: The only way we, the American public, can win is if the president of the United States steps back and says, yes, I want help, yes, I made some mistakes, yes, the world needs to join with us, and yes, I’m willing to give up some power, some control, so that there can be a world help in this area.

This cowboy attitude, this I’m the boss, I’m the only one that knows the right way to run the Mideast is crazy, it’s ludicrous. We’re losing lives. This president has no plan. I’m saying it every week on the show. It’s getting worse. We’re losing more lives with no direction. We need the world help. We need their money. We need to move forward.

MAY: Let me just point something out to you, Bill. Victor gets a warm, fuzzy feeling when he hears that money is going to the U.N. and the U.N. is working. If you’re an Iraqi, you don’t get that feeling. You get that feeling when you lose your wallet, because the Iraqis — ask them — they know what happened in the oil for food program. It was a corrupt program, and money in the billions was stolen from them. Ask the Iraqis, they’d rather the U.S. do it.

KAMBER: We’re not talking about under Saddam Hussein, we’re talking about today, and I get no fuzzy feeling seeing troops die every day, troops being injured every day.

MAY: And nobody does, Victor, that’s a…

KAMBER: The story you just heard was the most outrageous. Money should be going to these people. Our own soldiers don’t have proper care in this country. And I believe every word of that, because we’re not prepared, we weren’t prepared for 400 wounded soldiers in one camp in the United States. It’s outrageous…

HEMMER: Final word then move on to another topic.

MAY: If you want to argue we haven’t supported the military in the past years the way we should have, we don’t have a large enough military or clandestine services…

KAMBER: Today, we’re not supporting them in the way we should…

MAY: Then let’s vote for that $87 billion, $67 billion of which goes to the military. You’re for that, right?

KAMBER: I’m for…

MAY: You’re for it, or not?

KAMBER: I’m for…

MAY: Are you for the money for our troops?

KAMBER: I’m for our troops.

MAY: $87 billion.

KAMBER: I’m not for a continued presence in Iraq without support from the rest of the world…

MAY: You want to get out of Iraq? You want to cut and run?

KAMBER: You just heard what I said. Without support from the rest of the world, I am not for continued presence in Iraq.

MAY: So Victor would leave it to Jacques Chirac, whether we stay in Iraq or whether we give it back to terrorists.

HEMMER: Gentlemen, let’s move it back in this country to Iowa. Joe Lieberman, Wesley Clark, now skipping the caucuses on the 19th of January.

Victor, start us off here. Is this becoming irrelevant in the state of Iowa now?

KAMBER: No, I don’t think so. I think it’s smart politics on their part. It’s dangerous politics. What’s happened is two, three candidates have started to emerge in Iowa, Mr. Dean, Mr. Gephardt, and possibly Mr. Kerry. They’ve dominated the scene, they’ve got money. Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Dean — Mr. Clark have made the judgment that they’ll put their resources somewhere else. If one person wins Iowa, wins New Hampshire, the same person, it’s probably over and that person will probably be the nominee. On the other hand, if someone wins Iowa, someone wins New Hampshire, different then these primaries continue to have life and Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Clark may have a shot.

HEMMER: Bottom line, you need to pick up momentum at some point. Cliff, finish it off for us, quickly here.

MAY: Just that, skipping Iowa is risky, but if you skip Iowa and do well in New Hampshire, you can probably get away with that. If you skip both Iowa and New Hampshire, I don’t think you can make it up in the South afterwards. And my friends in Iowa won’t like the fact. But Iowa is a caucus state, not a primary state. And, look, let me just say this, the primaries are a game of expectations, you’ve got to do your strategy so you beat expectations whatever those are, and that may be one reason they’re not going into Iowa if they don’t think they can beat expectations.

HEMMER: We’ve got to run. Kamber, May thanks. Vic, Cliff, we’ll talk to you again.