February 10, 2005 | Broadcast

American Morning

Vic, good morning to you.

How’s the shoulder?

VICTOR KAMBER, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: It’s healing. It will be about two more weeks and this cast will be off.

HEMMER: Nice. It wasn’t your shoulder, it was your wrist. I’m sorry.

Cliff May is also down there, former RNC communications director.

Cliff, good morning to you. Nice to have you.

CLIFF MAY, FMR. RNC COMM. DIR.: I did not do that to victor, I just want to make it clear to the viewers.

HEMMER: Really, are you sure?

Victor, start us off, a $2.6 trillion budget. What don’t you like?

KAMBER: That it’s not a real budget. It’s now true. And I liked what Jack said earlier. This is — I don’t think he used the word baloney, but I think that’s as close to it as possible. We have a budget that doesn’t reflect the war in Afghanistan or Iraq, it doesn’t deal with the Social Security, that frankly, he’s going to have more problems, or as many problems, with his own party. And we’ve heard already about everything from Amtrak, beach reclamation, vocational educational, prescription drugs for veterans, that Republicans are going to fight. So it’s a budget that’s unrealistic, that doesn’t tell us the true story, and it’s the president just again shooting from the hip.

HEMMER: What about it, Cliff? from the hip, Not the true story. I hear you smirking there.

MAY: Well, no, I hope — I don’t mean to be smirking, but look, everybody wants to cut the deficit. Nobody wants to cut any programs. Unfortunately, you can’t do one without the other. You can’t say we don’t want the tax taxpayers to pay for this, we want the government to pay. It’s all the same thing.

I think this budget begins to get us on the road back to fiscal responsibility, but it’s just a beginning.

And, hey, Victor is right, there will be as many arguments among Republicans as with Democrats. In fact, you’re going to see some odd coalitions.

KAMBER: There are ways to cut.

MAY: Tell me one.

KAMBER: You don’t have to make the tax cuts that he’s made permanent, which would allow an increase in revenue. You don’t have to spend what they want to spend on the war in Iraq. You don’t have to do the Social Security program, for sure, at this point. There’s a number of things. And yes, you should cut fat from waste programs, but not from veterans drug benefits at a time when we’re calling veterans our heroes.

HEMMER: Do you see any fat that’s being trimmed effectively, though, Victor?

KAMBER: Well, I haven’t seen the details of every program. All I know is that when you start cutting the basic programs that service this country and service the people domestically, and when, on top of it, you’re really not going to make much of a dent in the budget by all of those cuts, it doesn’t make sense. I don’t know if this is the wisdom of the new policy Karl Rove, the new domestic policy person at the White House, and all he’s doing is applying political litmus tests to things he doesn’t like. I don’t know why they made the judgment.

HEMMER: $2.6 trillion, there’s plenty to talk about. We’re going to be back to this topic for days, if not weeks to come.

Let’s go to another topic. And, Cliff, start us of here — Condoleezza Rice overseas, how is her first major mission going as secretary of state?

MAY: I give her an ‘A.’ I think the secretary did really well. She stood up for American principles, which have been different from European principles since, oh, around 1776. She gave a robust defense of the Bush administration’s policies, and essentially, she diplomatically challenged the Europeans to get on board for a policy that promotes freedom and democracy in areas where those values are lacking. She was complimentary to the French, which they liked, but overly so. When she says, look, look what we accomplished together during the Cold War, anybody who understands knows the Cold War knows that the French were sort of neutral during the cold war. It was perfectly respectable to be a French communist then. But I think she’s been doing a very good job, she seems to getting good reviews, and she hasn’t backed an inch from the principles I think she should stand for.

HEMMER: Victor, you on board with that?

KAMBER: Well, I think she did a good job, given what she had to work with, which is the program of this administration. I thought most importantly, she reached out for the first time that George Bush and — with his foreign policy had not been willing to reach out in the way that she reached out.

I thought some of the analogies she used to justify the position of America were a little over the top. The comparison with Rosa Parks, the talking about the French Revolution, all of those things were over the top.

But I give her high marks for going, for talking, for reaching out. The only way to solve Iraq is if it’s a world united against the terrorists, and we needed to reach out. She started doing that.

HEMMER: I heard a guffaw from Cliff doing that. What’s going on over there?

MAY: I liked that, what Victor didn’t. What she did was to draw a straight line, from blacks in the South, who didn’t have a right to vote, and she comes from a family in the South that was denied the right to vote. And that’s why her, I think, it was her grandfather became a Republican, because they gave her that right, to Iraqis who dipped their finger in the ink and said I don’t care if the terrorists know I voted, I’m voting and I am willing to risk my life. She drew the line and made the comparison, and I think it’s a very powerful argument, and I think it’s a correct argument.

HEMMER: Thank you, gentlemen. We’ll talk again.

Victor, Cliff, thanks. Two weeks and counting down, Victor. We’re watching the calendar on your behalf.

KAMBER: Thank you. Thank you.