November 22, 2004 | Broadcast

American Morning

Two topics today for Democratic consultant Victor Kamber — Vic good morning to you.

VICTOR KAMBER, THE KAMBER GROUP: Good morning, Bill, how are you?

HEMMER: I’m doing fine thank you. Former RNC Communications Director Cliff May also in D.C. to talk about these topics. And Cliff, good morning to you as well.


HEMMER: I want to start with you, Cliff — 9/11 and the reforms that did not pass — what’s holding this up and why?

MAY: Well there are some members in Congress who think the bill is not as good as it should be and I don’t think that’s necessarily a terrible thing.

Look, Bill, for a long time on this show and others we’ve heard people say its not enough for President Bush to have yes men around him. You need some people who will say no, tell him when he’s wrong. Well a few members of Congress, a co-equal branch of government are saying you know what, Mr. President, we think you are wrong on some of these things, we think this bill can be stronger.

Now let me say I think this is probably a good bill. President Bush is behind it, Senator Joe Lieberman is behind it, it has good bipartisan support, but its not a terrible thing if a few of these differences are aired and if it takes a little longer.

Keep in mind that Porter Goss is at the CIA; he’s making important changes and by executive order, the president has made important changes as well.

HEMMER: You’re on the record — let’s get Victor on the record now. What do you think?

KAMBER: Well, first of all, I think that Cliff mischaracterizes. This isn’t about some think — people thinking that they could make it stronger. This is totally about a turf war between different groups within the Republican Party. Some who support the Pentagon, some who just want to fall in line with the president.

Obviously it looks like — we don’t know for sure — but it looks like the president’s own people, the Pentagon itself, maybe Don Rumsfeld has campaigned against this bill or the president didn’t go far enough in supporting it.

One of the problems the president has after this election — he has political capital, he says he wants to use it for the good of the country. He’s got a party that’s not in sync 100 percent with him. I don’t disagree with Cliff in terms of legislation shouldn’t be shoved through but we’ve had this 9/11 Commission Report, we’ve had this bill — we have the speaker in support of it, the Senate passed it overwhelmingly, the White House is for it.

It should have passed two barons, two barons within the House of Representatives decided they weren’t going to pass it and they didn’t even get a vote on it. The party is split.

HEMMER: Let me get back to Cliff on this. You said you can make it stronger or some people believe it should be made stronger or should be made better rather. In what way? How would you do that, Cliff?

MAY: There are two things that are being objected to. One is a question of battlefield intelligence, intelligence about what is taking place on the battlefield in a place like Iraq.

The Pentagon I think wants, or I should say the congressmen want, to make sure that it is the Pentagon that has that information first and fully, not through a process. The second has to do with immigration. There is a fear that there could be immigrants coming through who are not really — they’re here to work, we’ve heard about this a lot, they could be al Qaeda — it wants to make sure that we control our borders in a way that we have not.

Some people are saying leave that for another bill, they’re saying no; let’s put it in this bill now. We’re worried about people, terrorists, and materials (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

HEMMER: Let’s move on to issue number two and that is the issue of immigration, not necessarily what you mentioned, Cliff, but apparently the talks that are taking place now between Vicente Fox, the leader of Mexico and President Bush about hundreds of thousands of illegals working here in the U.S. and Victor I want you to start us off on this. That they may be granted asylum or possibly even the right to work here and not be sent back to Mexico if the employer agrees to keep them and if they have, let’s say, an upstanding record.

If that’s the case, and you’re going to do this for hundreds and thousands here, how does the U.S. win on this deal?

KAMBER: Well, the U.S. wins because we will one, have workers filling jobs that frankly we cannot fill any other way. Two we’ll be collecting taxes from these workers because they will be legitimate in the sense of being — not having to hide and run away. Three hopefully we’ll stop recalcitrant employers from exploiting people. They’ll get decent wages and decent conditions, which helps communities.

I think it’s a great step forward.



KAMBER: Well, I think you would if you could fill those jobs. You can’t fill them. We’re not talking about anchors on television or doctors or teachers. We’re talking about jobs that basically we’re not finding the ability to fill by the American workforce today.

MAY: I’m always glad to see Vic support President Bush and so I congratulate him on that. But let me take the other point of view then.

I think we have to be very careful. Before 9/11 illegal immigration we didn’t treat seriously. I think now we have to. Anything that rewards people who are breaking our laws is going to encourage other people to break the laws I’m afraid and say oh, I’m sure they’ll give me a break later on as well.

I think — look, I think we should have a guest worker program but I do think people who are in this country from other countries, they should be welcomed, they should be guests, they should be here legally. That has to be what we insist on.

KAMBER: And this will be again why the Republican Party will be split right down the middle… MAY: You know, Victor, I just have to say to you when you say split I — people like you, including you, were arguing that just a little while ago why does Bush only want yes men — shouldn’t’ there be somebody who says no — but that…

KAMBER: That’s the other party — that’s the other party, Cliff.

MAY: But you want — no, no. You want somebody at the State Department and the CIA who would say no.

KAMBER: I want people…

MAY: You can’t have Democrats in the cabinet of the president. You understand that, don’t you?

KAMBER: Cliff, I agree with you that we want a debate. I’m not suggesting to you that the Republican Party is a monolith. I am saying to you there are going to be differences of opinion. But I’m saying on this issue, they’re going to be split.

MAY: There are going to be differences, there’s going to be a debate within the Republican Party and the Democratic Party and that’s good.

HEMMER: Oh, Cliff.

MAY: Sorry, sorry.

HEMMER: Cliff May, Victor Kamber, thanks guys.

KAMBER: Thanks, Bill.

MAY: Thanks, Bill.