October 20, 2004 | Broadcast

American Morning

Hey, guys, I missed you guys.

Good morning.

Nice to see you.



KAMBER: And you look marvelous.

O’BRIEN: Thank you very much.

Well, thank you, thank you, thank you.

I’d say more and more and more, but we don’t have a lot of time, so let’s get right to it.

Cliff, we’re going to start with you.

And we’re talking about the polls all week, really. People talk about the Bush bounce. It does sort of fall within the standard of deviation when they look at polls. But analysts say the president did get a bump up after the last debate. Some people say it’s because of Senator Kerry’s comments about Mary Cheney.

What do you think? MAY: It’s certainly possible. Something certainly has hurt Kerry. Everybody has said that Kerry, not everybody, but certainly on this station and others, people thought that Kerry had been the better debater. I’ve said before on this program that I don’t think people necessarily say oh, that’s the better debater, therefore that’s who I’ll vote for. They’re looking for a glimpse behind the curtain, behind the orchestration, behind the spin.

For Kerry to use someone’s daughter for political benefit, for his campaign manager to say Mary Cheney is fair game — I also think for Edwards to say, you know, if Kerry is elected, people will get out of their wheelchairs and walk again, all that, I think, may have left a bad taste in a lot of voters’ mouths.

O’BRIEN: Vic, the vice president said what really bothered him the most about that comment about his daughter was that it seemed to be about political strategizing.

Do you find that ironic or do you think he has a point?

KAMBER: Well, I think it’s ironic since the only people who have raised Mary Cheney since the debate, frankly, are Republicans at every level. I think it was unfortunate he said Mary’s name, Cheney’s name. But frankly, she’s not an issue. But they’ve made it an issue, from Mrs. Cheney, Liz Cheney, Dick Cheney, Mary Matalin, you name it. Every single Republican since last Thursday, at least two or three times a day, says it’s an issue for something that they wanted to keep private.

It’s not an issue and I disagree with Cliff totally. The fact is that the debates made a difference. They reintroduced John Kerry to the American public. The polling is very close, marginal in any case, some polls ahead, some behind. People are not voting either for or John Kerry because of the Mary Cheney statement. That’s a ludicrous concept.

O’BRIEN: All right, let’s turn and talk about Social Security.

Here’s what Senator Kerry said about the president’s strategy. Let’s listen.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know what his January surprise is for next year? He said, he said, and I quote him, “We’re going to move quickly to privatize Social Security.” Those are his words.


O’BRIEN: Vic, obviously lots of debate over that and also what the president has said about privatizing Social Security.

Where is Senator Kerry getting this from?

KAMBER: Well, from the president. I mean he said it in the debate directly, that he believes we should take a portion of the money and — for the younger people and let them invest it themselves. That’s called privatization.

O’BRIEN: But isn’t the key point is the younger people? And many people say with a comment like that, he’s really trying to scare the older people, the voters, say, in Florida?

KAMBER: I hope he is. I hope he is trying to scare. I hope he’s trying to wake up America to say anybody that plays around and touches with Social Security is playing havoc with a plan that we know is successful. And George Bush, last campaign, tried to do — tried to play with it, and the Congress for the last four years hasn’t been willing to touch it.

Now, the president, I believe exactly what Kerry said, if George Bush wins again, that will be one of his plans in January, because he knows he doesn’t have to face election again and he can scare the world with it and it doesn’t matter.

O’BRIEN: Cliff, do you think… MAY: In every…

O’BRIEN: Go ahead. MAY: Well, I was just going to say, in every election in my lifetime, and probably way before that, Democrats have trotted this out at the end to scare people, that the Republicans want to do away with Social Security. It’s not true. Bush never — Bush has been president for four years. I can’t believe anybody is going to find this credible today…

KAMBER: Not do away, Cliff, change it. MAY: Look, well, you know what? Let me tell you something that Republicans and Democrats won’t say. We need to reform Social Security in the future or it’s not going to be available for people like you and me.

KAMBER: We totally agree. MAY: But it’s not going to be done in this way. It’s going to have to be done by Republicans and Democrats coming together over a plan, because it’s such a political hot button issue. KAMBER: Agreed. MAY: Meanwhile, this idea of, I guess privatization has been polled and it scares people, but, again, as Soledad said, what they’re talking about is younger workers who want to may get the opportunity to invest a very tiny fraction of their Social Security payments…

KAMBER: Touch Social Security… MAY: … into…

KAMBER: … in privatize (UNINTELLIGIBLE). MAY: This is what you think. You think this is a hot button issue.

KAMBER: You’re going to… MAY: You think it’s the third rail. But, by the way, it’s — by the way, the front page of the “Washington Post” today, “Social Security Benefits To Rise.” This is after…

KAMBER: Cliff… MAY: … four years of Bush.

KAMBER: Cliff, Social Security… MAY: A Republican Congress.

KAMBER: When you said it before, in your lifetime, Social Security happened in your lifetime and Social Security was a Democratic thing. MAY: You got it.

KAMBER: The Republicans were against it from the very beginning and Republicans would like to change it. They would like to get their hands on the… MAY: I think we should fix it…

O’BRIEN: Oh, you guys obviously… MAY: People would love to get some of that money to invest.

KAMBER: All of us.

O’BRIEN: … we’re not going to resolve it today.

Gentlemen, I’m — you know what? It’s nice to see that things haven’t changed in the little time I was gone.

Thanks for being with us this morning.

Victor, I like your haircut. It’s cute.

All right, you guys, we’ll check in with you later.

KAMBER: Thank you.

O’BRIEN: Bill.