July 20, 2005 | Broadcast

American Morning

Joining us from Washington, a couple of hardball players themselves. Democratic consultant Victor Kamber and former RNC Communications Director Clifford May. Vic and Cliff, good to have you with us this morning.



O’BRIEN: You know, there’s a big pile of money somewhere there in Washington with all these interest groups. They’ve been spoiling for a fight for so long. It’s almost inevitable, isn’t it? Cliff, you start.

MAY: It’s absolutely inevitable. I don’t see that they’re going to turn the money back over to the various donors. But I think Bush made a clever choice here for a number of reasons. For one, though the interest groups are probably right now looking for something in this guy’s record to harm him with, the fact of the matter is, just two years ago, he was overwhelmingly confirmed with Democratic support in a Congress that was more Democratic than the current one is.

This guy appears to be an originalist, somebody who doesn’t believe it’s his job to make the law or to make policy. It’s his job to interpret the laws that exist, the constitution, which is a contract between the American people and its government. So, yes, the interest groups will do their stuff, but this is going to be a tough one to beat.

O’BRIEN: And I suppose the American people would say, great, we want somebody who has a strict interpretation of the constitution. Right, Vic?

KAMBER: Well, I think some Americans want that. I think some Americans want a jurist with a heart who can look at the problems out there and make decisions based upon what’s in the best interest of the people and the cases involved. I’m less concerned about the special interest groups. I think they have an obligation to promote what they believe and educate the American public, and that’s one of the best ways to educate. But unless there’s a scandal here, my belief is that their impact will not have a great impact on the decision-making process.

O’BRIEN: So you think it’s a done deal? It’s just a matter of what…

KAMBER: No, I didn’t mean that. No, no. I — what I’m saying is, I don’t see many senators changing their vote because there were six ads going one way or the other. I think Bush, I mean, the president, frankly, made a mistake in that he could have used this opportunity to really create a legacy, to appoint somebody that — diverse, a person of color, a woman, an Asian, somebody — I mean, there are plenty of conservatives. None of us ever believed he wasn’t go to conservative…

O’BRIEN: There’s certainly a lot of white male conservatives out there, Cliff. You being among them. Let’s — why wouldn’t he have chosen — maybe not taken an opportunity here to at least have a woman replace a woman? MAY: I think most people expected that’s what he would do. I think what probably happened at the end of the day is he thought about it and he said, you know what, in 10, 20 years, I want to be very proud of my choice. Let me go for quality. Let me pick the person that I think is…


O’BRIEN: Women and Latinos don’t give you quality? What do you mean by that?

MAY: I think he picked the individual without regard to race, creed, color, gender. The individual he thought was most qualified rather than going on to a politically correct choice.

O’BRIEN: Vic, you can knock that one out of the park if you want. Go ahead.

KAMBER: Well, I mean, I just — there were so many qualified conservatives that fit the diversity issue. I just think it was a chance for him to hit that one out of the ballpark and stuff. But let me also say, I — you know, we’re going to have to know a lot more about this nominee. He looks bright, clean, you know, is a Washington establishment attorney.

But what sits in my craw a little bit, and it’s not a case that’s ever going to keep him from the judgeship, in my judgment, is, you know, he made the decision within the last two years with the french fry case, I call it, which made a lot of news here in Washington. A 12-year-old girl was arrested for eating a french fry on the subway or the Metro system here and it went to court. She was arrested, handcuffed. Her shoe laces taken off, in detention, you know, mugged, fingerprinted, you know, detention for three hours. For eating a french fry. He upheld that case.

O’BRIEN: Do you think the french fry will be a big issue before the committee?

KAMBER: Well, no. I’m just saying — I would…


KAMBER: It’s an issue for me because the guy doesn’t have a heart.

MAY: OK, let me just say this.

O’BRIEN: Let’s respond.

MAY: On something like that, and I don’t really know this case, often what that means is the laws are wrong. He doesn’t get to change the law. He says, Congress, you change the law. This is a guy who is uniquely qualified. He has argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court.

KAMBER: Only won 25.

MAY: That’s right. Not all of them has he won.

O’BRIEN: That will get you into the Hall of Fame. What are you talking about?

MAY: Arguing in the Supreme Court is not as hard as arguing against you and me, Vic. But it’s still pretty impressive. And he’s been on the appellate court. This guy has a great career.

O’BRIEN: All right, gents, I don’t think we settled that one. But we’re just getting started, aren’t we?

Democratic consultant Victor Kamber, former RNC Communications Director Cliff May, thank you both.