March 16, 2004 | Broadcast

American Morning

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That’s not your business; it’s mine.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But it is our business when a candidate for president claims the political endorsement of foreign leaders. At the very least, we have a right to know what he is saying to foreign leaders that makes them so supportive.


O’BRIEN: Time to hear from both sides on that issue, and from Washington, we’re joined by Democratic consultant Victor Kamber.

Hey, Victor, good morning to you. Nice to see you as always.


O’BRIEN: Cliff May is a former communications director for the Republican National Committee, joining us, as well.

Good morning to you, Cliff. How are you? Nice to see you.


O’BRIEN: Well, Cliff, you were listening to the vice president, Dick Cheney, calling on Senator Kerry to name some names, give us the names of those foreign leaders. Why do you think the senator should actually do that?

MAY: Well, I think the truth is that there’s a suspicion that he never spoke to any foreign leaders, and no foreign leaders have endorsed him, and this was, shall we say, a flight of fantasy on the part of Senator Kerry.

But if he did, I think it would be fine for him to say, yes, you know, Jacques Chirac and I the other night were sharing a crisp chardonnay and eating some runny cammanbart (ph), and he said to me, you know, you would be a lot better than that Bush to be president, Mr. Kerry. Why not? I think it’s important for us to know which foreign leaders. Again, Jacques Chirac will not influence my voting behavior very much, but if it was Tony Blair, I would take it very seriously.

O’BRIEN: As much as I think you did an excellent French accent there, I have to say I see Victor laughing through virtually every single thing…

MAY: If I can make victor laugh.

O’BRIEN: You know, if you can make Victor laugh, then it’s a good day, isn’t it? Because, to some degree, many people have come to the defense of Senator Kerry, Victor has said. Well, why would he name names? It would only put those world leaders in a very awkward position.

KAMBER: No question. First of all, he never said they endorsed. He said that there were several world leaders that thought — whatever the term was that he should replace Bush, or be a better president, whatever the terms where. We know this administration retaliates against people that disagree with them. World leaders do not affect world opinion in the United States in terms of voting.

You know, and when this administration is prepared to share information that it is keeping secret, like who at the CIA gave the information to the president about the weapons of mass destruction, who at the CIA gave information about the Taliban and Iraq, I mean, who Dick Cheney met with in secret energy meetings. When they’re prepared to share a lot of information they’ve determined to keep secret, then I think John Kerry can share who he talked on the phone with about changing the presidency in 2004.

O’BRIEN: At the same time. And he said met, he didn’t say talk on the phone, he said met. It was I think Dan Bartlett from the White House who said, well, you know what, if the senator can’t name the names, then maybe everybody should conclude that, as Cliff sort of indicated, it was a flight of fantasy, he was out and out lying, he made it up.

KAMBER: Well, why should we, unless, again, we have an administration that only wants people to believe anybody who doesn’t agree with them is lying. I mean, we have an administration that’s known to be retaliatory. If you disagree with them, whether you’re an American, or a foreign leader, or a foreign power or foreigner, you’re going to be retaliated against. We have seen it time and time again in this country. Why should he share the names? What’s the big deal?

O’BRIEN: Things got more complicated, Cliff, when the reporter who actually was taking notes and transcribed this comment said, you know what, he never said foreign leaders, I went back and listened to it again, he actually said more leaders. Does that change things?

MAY: Well, all he needs to do is explain here’s what I meant and here’s what I was talking about. By the way, I don’t know what Vic is talking about in terms of retaliation. Do they think John Kerry is going to be knee-capped? Victor, when we leave this building, I am going to be with you and I will protect you from retaliation.

KAMBER: Thank you. Thank you.

MAY: Don’t you worry about it. I’m not going to let it happen.

KAMBER: You know, the love, you guys, between you two, it’s choking me up. All right, I want to turn hear. We have just a little bit of time left, to talk about the No. 2 spot. Some people have said with Vice President Dick Cheney’s approval rating, that 45 percent is pretty darn low. He should be ditched from the ticket. It should not be Bush-Cheney, that he should — it should be Bush/fill-in-the-blank- with-somebody-else. What do you think, Cliff. Do you think that’s a possibility at all?

MAY: I don’t think it’s a possibility at all. You know, there was some vice president, Victor may remember, who said the job isn’t worth a bucket of warm spit. Spit is not the precise word he used. Usually vice presidents get up in the morning, find out if the president is alive. If the president is alive, they go back to bed, unless they have a funeral to attend for a foreign leader, maybe one of the ones John Kerry knows.

This vice president, Dick Cheney, has been the most consequential vice president in American history. He was the most prepared for the job based upon his previous experience in government and the private sector. American taxpayers get their money worth with Dick Cheney. Whether you agree with him or not, that’s true. I happen to think he’s a wonderful public servant.

O’BRIEN: What do you think, Victor, with just a few seconds left?

KAMBER: I don’t want him off the ticket either, for all the reasons that Cliff just said. I want his record to be the one that we vote on. I want the American public to remember that it’s a Cheney- Bush ticket, and I think it’s in that order probably. But a Cheney- Bush, or Bush-Cheney ticket. But the economy in this country, the problems of this country, the problems overseas, that he’s as much a part of them as George Bush is. I want the country to remember that and vote that ticket down.

O’BRIEN: Victor Kamber, Cliff May, nice to see you guys, as always. You two are all over it today. Wow. Thanks, guys.

HEMMER: Next week, Kamber and May from Paris.

O’BRIEN: Did you like his accent?