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Liz Cheney and James Carville Debate

Liz Cheney and James Carville Debate

By Larry King Live - June 10, 2009

KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE in Washington, Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who served as deputy assistant secretary of State under President George W. Bush.

And in New Orleans, James Carville, Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor.

Our original topic -- and we will get into it -- was the future of the Republican Party. But one cannot go into any discussion tonight without asking about their reaction to today's fatal shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, of all places, in Washington. An African-American guard is killed. The suspect, an 88-year-old white supremacist.

Liz, what do you say?

LIZ CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY'S DAUGHTER: Well, I think it was obviously a horrific event, Larry. And I think that, as I understand it, they have apprehended the man who was guilty. We know who he was.

I do think people need to be a little bit careful about using words like terrorism before we know exactly -- you know, clearly, he was psychotic. But we don't really know much yet about whether or not he was representing any sort of an organization. I think we need to be a little bit careful.

But, obviously, it was -- it was a horrific event.

KING: All right, James, is it larger than this or is it just down to the point of a white supremacist kills a black American, in a Jewish museum?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Well, the first thing is, is he's a criminal. It's a criminal act. We don't -- there's no -- it is not a political act. What he did was a criminal act. So let -- let's call it what it is. If he's 88 or eight or 18, it doesn't matter. He's a criminal.

Of course it has huge significance. I mean 27 million people have visited the Holocaust Museum. It's, you know, probably the most dastardly deed in -- or one of them -- in the history of the world, in that you would have a hate -- somebody -- a criminal come in there with some hate motivation is -- certainly, it's newsworthy and it's significant. And, you know, this kinds of stuff has gone on in the world, it is going on and, in all likelihood, will continue to go on.

KING: Yes.

CARVILLE: But hopefully we'll use this as some kind of a teaching moment.

KING: Liz, is -- does -- is it parallel to some of the political discourse going on in America -- not to murder, of course -- but to what's happened to our politics with screaming talk shows and wild people on the other side and everybody's angry?

CHENEY: No. I mean, I think that we really -- it's very important to be careful here. I mean, I think, you know, in every society -- certainly in our society at every moment in history, we have had people -- criminals, as James puts it -- people who are, you know, crazy, psychotic.

Clearly, this man was a white supremacist, if you look at his writings; an anti-Semite; you know, a really vile human being. Every society has those.

But I really think it's a stretch too far to sort of say that somehow...

KING: All right...

CHENEY: ...can be connected to our political discourse.

KING: OK. Well said.

James, let's get to the topic at hand.

CARVILLE: OK. KING: The new "USA Today"/Gallup Poll, they asked people to specify the main person who speaks for the Republican Party. Fifty- two percent can not come up with a name.

What do you make of that?

CARVILLE: Well, I'm not into -- to making apologies for Republicans. But that very often will happen if you have a party that -- that's out of power. And I don't know what the answer would have been in, say, 2003 for the Democrats, or even in 2005.

But the problem for Republicans is, is they've been in the wilderness since 2005, which is the worst year I think any political party ever had in history. And they've been in negative territory since then. And they have not been able to break out of their sort of white Southern talk radio base.

And if you look at the people that think they're leaders, they pretty much fit hard core, white Southern talk radio base. And that's their problem. They can't expand beyond that. And until they figure out how to do that, they're going to continue to have problems.

KING: We're going to ask for Liz Cheney's comments in a moment.

CHENEY: Well...

KING: As soon as we come back, we'll get Liz's thoughts.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: OK, Liz Cheney, 52 percent in this poll couldn't come up with a name, who speaks for the GOP. Of those who did cite a name, Rush Limbaugh had 13 percent; Dick Cheney, your dad, had 10 percent; John McCain and Newt Gingrich, 6 percent; George W. Bush, 3 percent; and Sarah Palin, below 3 percent.

What do you make of that?

CHENEY: Well, I think, you know, James was right. Actually, there was a very similar poll done back in August of 2001 by "USA Today" which showed, at that point, the Democrats didn't know who their leader was.

So it's a healthy thing for a party to go through. It's not surprising that we are the party out of power. We've got a lot of great young talent; people like Adam Putnam in Florida; people like Rob Portman in Ohio; folks like Eric Cantor in the Congress. We have a lot of talent.

We've also got a lot of terrific ideas. And I think that that's where the next election will be decided.

And as people, those sort of -- the vast -- those Independents in the middle, who, really, actually identify more as conservatives than as liberals, when they actually take a look at some of the things this administration is doing, whether it is now, we learned today, reading Miranda rights to terrorists on the battlefield; whether it's massively expanding the size of the government; whether it's insisting that -- that the bureaucracy ought to choose your doctor and prescribe your medicine.

I think that sort of that, those middle class, fundamentally conservative voters, will very likely find that their home in 2010 and in 2012 is with the GOP and not in the Democratic Party.

KING: What's your read into it, James...

CARVILLE: Well, that the Republican Party is...

KING: ...the fact that Sarah Palin was billed 3 percent...

CARVILLE: Right...

KING: ...and that Rush Limbaugh had the highest percentage, at a low 13?

CARVILLE: Well, look, Sarah Palin couldn't even -- she doesn't even have a scheduler. So the idea that she -- she was going to be, you know, the leader of the Republican Party is ludicrous.

And Michael Steele can't even -- makes a fool of himself every other time he goes out there.

But that's their problem.

But their larger problem is, is that they are held in as -- in as low esteem as any political party in modern American polling. And the fact is that they -- when they had government, they completely botched it up.

If you look at 2005, which I keep referring to as a disastrous year, remember, it was the Republican Party who wanted to have people their money -- their Social Security money in the stock market. Now, that would have been a brilliant idea, wouldn't it?

And it was the Republican Party that, at 1:30 in the morning, came to the Terry Schiavo case, which people found repulsive.

And it was the Republican Party that completely botched the response to Hurricane Katrina.

And now we find out that they're largely responsible for the catastrophic fiscal mess that we're in.

So they've got a...

CHENEY: James...

CARVILLE: ...they've got a little digging to do...

CHENEY: James... CARVILLE: ...digging out to do here and...

CHENEY: Yes, but, James, you and I know...

CARVILLE: ...and they would be...

CHENEY: ...you and I know that -- that those are not the issues that people are going to be focused on in 2010.

CARVILLE: They're not?

CHENEY: You and I have a big difference about your interpretation of the last several years.

CARVILLE: Right.

CHENEY: But people are looking and saying, wait a second. President Obama didn't tell us he's raising everybody's taxes. President Obama didn't tell us that he was going to stop treating the war on terror like a war.

In fact, during the campaign he mocked the idea we were going to read Miranda rights like a terrorist. But we learned today that Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan, we're picking these guys up. Instead of interrogating them to find out what they know, this administration has decided we should say to them, you have the right to remain silent.

KING: James -- Liz, let him respond.

CARVILLE: I'm a little flummoxed here that people are not concerned about the debt that the Republicans created by three tax credit and wars. I'm also a little flummoxed --

(CROSS TALK)

KING: Liz, let him speak. Liz -- Liz, don't interrupt.

CARVILLE: This is a one-person show. Thank you. I'm also -- That general Powell and General Petraeus and Admiral Mullen and people like that agree with this administration's policy when it comes to fighting the war on terror. I think it's always interesting that we shift the thinking.

The American people have caught held on this. That's why the Republican party is held in the lowest esteem of any political party in modern polling.

CHENEY: You and I will come back and do the same debate in 2010.

CARVILLE: We're not debating. You're talking and I'm listening.

KING: Mike Huckabee, the former Republican presidential candidate, warns the GOP about moving to the mushy middle. Do you agree with that, Liz? CHENEY: I think it's really important that the Republican party stay true to those core values we were just talking about. The nation itself is fundamentally conservative. People want a strong national defense. They want low taxes. They want individual freedoms.

KING: Then how did Obama win?

CHENEY: We got flummoxed and we got trounced in 2008. And I think a lot of things happened, including the economy went completely south. We had a total economic meltdown. President Obama ran a brilliant campaign. There's no doubt that the Republican party has got to rebuild. We've got to restructure. We've got to let new leaders come to the fore.

But at the end of the day, those fundamental core principles are the ones that have made the nation great, not just the party affecting them.

KING: I'll have Jim pick up right after this break. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: It's time for our remarkable questions. Our first one is a voice mail from Margaret. Listen.

CALLER: My question is, why do you have that microphone on your desk, and does it work? That's the old style microphone. Thank you.

KING: It is, Margaret. It's typical of the microphones I started with back in 1957. This was the widest microphone in use, this RCA-Victor. And it does not work. But I'm proud to have it. It's sort of my blanket.

Our next is an e-mail from Shirley in St. Paul park in Minnesota. "Who do you think had the most positive influence -- has the most -- had in history the most positive influence in our country."

That is a tough one to pick out. Pick out one positive influence. In the turn of events, I would say Martin Luther King Jr. If you have a question for me, ask it at CNN.com/LarryKing. If I read it on the air, you get an autographed copy of "My Remarkable Life." You'll have a chance to win a trip to Los Angeles to see our show live. I hope you find it an enjoyable read.

Back with Liz Cheney and James Carville. Are the Republicans going to be -- how do they handle the choice of Sonia Sotomayor to come to the Supreme Court, James?

CARVILLE: I think they'll still go through the process. There will be 25 Republicans will vote against it. She'll Pass 75 to 25.

KING: But is there a danger if they take on a Latin -- a Latin person in a strong manner?

CARVILLE: Yes, there is a danger of that. But I don't think that they're going to do that. I think they will question here. I think about 25 of them will find a reason not to vote for her. And she'll pass. I don't think it's going to be some kind of Armageddon or anything like that. I think they're pretty cognizant of that. I don't think there's much appetite on their side to have some kind of big confrontation here.

KING: Liz, what does your dad say about that appointment?

CHENEY: Larry, I can tell you what I think. I haven't asked him what he thinks about it. I think she deserves a fair hearing. She deserves a hearing, just like any other judicial appointment has had. I suspect she'll get that. I think the notion we should somehow treat her differently because of her gender or ethnicity is wrong. I don't think that's how this country should operate.

I think there's some questions that I think she will have to answer. She should be asked -- I think she will be asked to identify for us what cases it is on which her gender or her ethnicity had an impact, made a difference in how she decided those cases. I think that people need to be able to spend the time looking at her record and understanding better what her judicial philosophy is, and how the empathy that she's talked about played a role in deciding specific cases.

KING: Why, James, despite many downs and a lot of ups, does the president remain popular?

CARVILLE: Well, I mean, first of all, he's a very, very skilled person. It's been a very active presidency. You couldn't help but see him over in Egypt, and whenever he goes, the kind of reaction he gets. He's doing a lot of things.

People want it to work, obviously. I think that, you know, he's doing a good job so far. And people got a lot vested in it. And they would like to see this continued. But, you know, look, this is politics. If popularity got everything, I remember that President Bush at one time was at like 90 percent and ended up with the lowest poll ratings -- consistent poll ratings of any president ever.

So I wouldn't place too much into where we are 4.5 months in this. But I would say people are certainly encouraged about the early signs. People are feeling better about the country. Consumer confidence is up.

KING: Is it troubling to Republicans, Liz?

CHENEY: No, I think it's not unusual for a new president to have high approval ratings. But I would say one of the things that is troubling to Americans, I think, is extent to which this administration is focused on the president's popularity overseas. We've now seen several different occasions when he's been on the international trips, where he's not willing to say, flat out, I believe in American exceptionalism. I believe unequivocally, unapologetically, America is the best nation that ever existed in history, and clearly that exists today. Instead we've seen him do what we saw him do in the speech in Cairo, which is sort of, on one hand this, on the other hand that, and then attempt to put himself sort of above it all. I think that troubles people. Americans, whether Democrats or Republicans, want to know their president is the staunchest, strongest defender of the nation.

KING: Guys, sadly, we have run out of time. We'll have both of you back as quick as we can, because you're terrific guests. Liz Cheney and James Carville. Katie Couric is here in 60 seconds. Don't go away.
KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE in Washington, Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who served as deputy assistant secretary of State under President George W. Bush.

And in New Orleans, James Carville, Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor.

Our original topic -- and we will get into it -- was the future of the Republican Party. But one cannot go into any discussion tonight without asking about their reaction to today's fatal shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, of all places, in Washington. An African-American guard is killed. The suspect, an 88-year-old white supremacist.

Liz, what do you say?

LIZ CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY'S DAUGHTER: Well, I think it was obviously a horrific event, Larry. And I think that, as I understand it, they have apprehended the man who was guilty. We know who he was.

I do think people need to be a little bit careful about using words like terrorism before we know exactly -- you know, clearly, he was psychotic. But we don't really know much yet about whether or not he was representing any sort of an organization. I think we need to be a little bit careful.

But, obviously, it was -- it was a horrific event.

KING: All right, James, is it larger than this or is it just down to the point of a white supremacist kills a black American, in a Jewish museum?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Well, the first thing is, is he's a criminal. It's a criminal act. We don't -- there's no -- it is not a political act. What he did was a criminal act. So let -- let's call it what it is. If he's 88 or eight or 18, it doesn't matter. He's a criminal.

Of course it has huge significance. I mean 27 million people have visited the Holocaust Museum. It's, you know, probably the most dastardly deed in -- or one of them -- in the history of the world, in that you would have a hate -- somebody -- a criminal come in there with some hate motivation is -- certainly, it's newsworthy and it's significant. And, you know, this kinds of stuff has gone on in the world, it is going on and, in all likelihood, will continue to go on.

KING: Yes.

CARVILLE: But hopefully we'll use this as some kind of a teaching moment.

KING: Liz, is -- does -- is it parallel to some of the political discourse going on in America -- not to murder, of course -- but to what's happened to our politics with screaming talk shows and wild people on the other side and everybody's angry?

CHENEY: No. I mean, I think that we really -- it's very important to be careful here. I mean, I think, you know, in every society -- certainly in our society at every moment in history, we have had people -- criminals, as James puts it -- people who are, you know, crazy, psychotic.

Clearly, this man was a white supremacist, if you look at his writings; an anti-Semite; you know, a really vile human being. Every society has those.

But I really think it's a stretch too far to sort of say that somehow...

KING: All right...

CHENEY: ...can be connected to our political discourse.

KING: OK. Well said.

James, let's get to the topic at hand.

CARVILLE: OK. KING: The new "USA Today"/Gallup Poll, they asked people to specify the main person who speaks for the Republican Party. Fifty- two percent can not come up with a name.

What do you make of that?

CARVILLE: Well, I'm not into -- to making apologies for Republicans. But that very often will happen if you have a party that -- that's out of power. And I don't know what the answer would have been in, say, 2003 for the Democrats, or even in 2005.

But the problem for Republicans is, is they've been in the wilderness since 2005, which is the worst year I think any political party ever had in history. And they've been in negative territory since then. And they have not been able to break out of their sort of white Southern talk radio base.

And if you look at the people that think they're leaders, they pretty much fit hard core, white Southern talk radio base. And that's their problem. They can't expand beyond that. And until they figure out how to do that, they're going to continue to have problems.

KING: We're going to ask for Liz Cheney's comments in a moment.

CHENEY: Well...

KING: As soon as we come back, we'll get Liz's thoughts.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: OK, Liz Cheney, 52 percent in this poll couldn't come up with a name, who speaks for the GOP. Of those who did cite a name, Rush Limbaugh had 13 percent; Dick Cheney, your dad, had 10 percent; John McCain and Newt Gingrich, 6 percent; George W. Bush, 3 percent; and Sarah Palin, below 3 percent.

What do you make of that?

CHENEY: Well, I think, you know, James was right. Actually, there was a very similar poll done back in August of 2001 by "USA Today" which showed, at that point, the Democrats didn't know who their leader was.

So it's a healthy thing for a party to go through. It's not surprising that we are the party out of power. We've got a lot of great young talent; people like Adam Putnam in Florida; people like Rob Portman in Ohio; folks like Eric Cantor in the Congress. We have a lot of talent.

We've also got a lot of terrific ideas. And I think that that's where the next election will be decided.

And as people, those sort of -- the vast -- those Independents in the middle, who, really, actually identify more as conservatives than as liberals, when they actually take a look at some of the things this administration is doing, whether it is now, we learned today, reading Miranda rights to terrorists on the battlefield; whether it's massively expanding the size of the government; whether it's insisting that -- that the bureaucracy ought to choose your doctor and prescribe your medicine.

I think that sort of that, those middle class, fundamentally conservative voters, will very likely find that their home in 2010 and in 2012 is with the GOP and not in the Democratic Party.

KING: What's your read into it, James...

CARVILLE: Well, that the Republican Party is...

KING: ...the fact that Sarah Palin was billed 3 percent...

CARVILLE: Right...

KING: ...and that Rush Limbaugh had the highest percentage, at a low 13?

CARVILLE: Well, look, Sarah Palin couldn't even -- she doesn't even have a scheduler. So the idea that she -- she was going to be, you know, the leader of the Republican Party is ludicrous.

And Michael Steele can't even -- makes a fool of himself every other time he goes out there.

But that's their problem.

But their larger problem is, is that they are held in as -- in as low esteem as any political party in modern American polling. And the fact is that they -- when they had government, they completely botched it up.

If you look at 2005, which I keep referring to as a disastrous year, remember, it was the Republican Party who wanted to have people their money -- their Social Security money in the stock market. Now, that would have been a brilliant idea, wouldn't it?

And it was the Republican Party that, at 1:30 in the morning, came to the Terry Schiavo case, which people found repulsive.

And it was the Republican Party that completely botched the response to Hurricane Katrina.

And now we find out that they're largely responsible for the catastrophic fiscal mess that we're in.

So they've got a...

CHENEY: James...

CARVILLE: ...they've got a little digging to do...

CHENEY: James... CARVILLE: ...digging out to do here and...

CHENEY: Yes, but, James, you and I know...

CARVILLE: ...and they would be...

CHENEY: ...you and I know that -- that those are not the issues that people are going to be focused on in 2010.

CARVILLE: They're not?

CHENEY: You and I have a big difference about your interpretation of the last several years.

CARVILLE: Right.

CHENEY: But people are looking and saying, wait a second. President Obama didn't tell us he's raising everybody's taxes. President Obama didn't tell us that he was going to stop treating the war on terror like a war.

In fact, during the campaign he mocked the idea we were going to read Miranda rights like a terrorist. But we learned today that Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan, we're picking these guys up. Instead of interrogating them to find out what they know, this administration has decided we should say to them, you have the right to remain silent.

KING: James -- Liz, let him respond.

CARVILLE: I'm a little flummoxed here that people are not concerned about the debt that the Republicans created by three tax credit and wars. I'm also a little flummoxed --

(CROSS TALK)

KING: Liz, let him speak. Liz -- Liz, don't interrupt.

CARVILLE: This is a one-person show. Thank you. I'm also -- That general Powell and General Petraeus and Admiral Mullen and people like that agree with this administration's policy when it comes to fighting the war on terror. I think it's always interesting that we shift the thinking.

The American people have caught held on this. That's why the Republican party is held in the lowest esteem of any political party in modern polling.

CHENEY: You and I will come back and do the same debate in 2010.

CARVILLE: We're not debating. You're talking and I'm listening.

KING: Mike Huckabee, the former Republican presidential candidate, warns the GOP about moving to the mushy middle. Do you agree with that, Liz? CHENEY: I think it's really important that the Republican party stay true to those core values we were just talking about. The nation itself is fundamentally conservative. People want a strong national defense. They want low taxes. They want individual freedoms.

KING: Then how did Obama win?

CHENEY: We got flummoxed and we got trounced in 2008. And I think a lot of things happened, including the economy went completely south. We had a total economic meltdown. President Obama ran a brilliant campaign. There's no doubt that the Republican party has got to rebuild. We've got to restructure. We've got to let new leaders come to the fore.

But at the end of the day, those fundamental core principles are the ones that have made the nation great, not just the party affecting them.

KING: I'll have Jim pick up right after this break. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: It's time for our remarkable questions. Our first one is a voice mail from Margaret. Listen.

CALLER: My question is, why do you have that microphone on your desk, and does it work? That's the old style microphone. Thank you.

KING: It is, Margaret. It's typical of the microphones I started with back in 1957. This was the widest microphone in use, this RCA-Victor. And it does not work. But I'm proud to have it. It's sort of my blanket.

Our next is an e-mail from Shirley in St. Paul park in Minnesota. "Who do you think had the most positive influence -- has the most -- had in history the most positive influence in our country."

That is a tough one to pick out. Pick out one positive influence. In the turn of events, I would say Martin Luther King Jr. If you have a question for me, ask it at CNN.com/LarryKing. If I read it on the air, you get an autographed copy of "My Remarkable Life." You'll have a chance to win a trip to Los Angeles to see our show live. I hope you find it an enjoyable read.

Back with Liz Cheney and James Carville. Are the Republicans going to be -- how do they handle the choice of Sonia Sotomayor to come to the Supreme Court, James?

CARVILLE: I think they'll still go through the process. There will be 25 Republicans will vote against it. She'll Pass 75 to 25.

KING: But is there a danger if they take on a Latin -- a Latin person in a strong manner?

CARVILLE: Yes, there is a danger of that. But I don't think that they're going to do that. I think they will question here. I think about 25 of them will find a reason not to vote for her. And she'll pass. I don't think it's going to be some kind of Armageddon or anything like that. I think they're pretty cognizant of that. I don't think there's much appetite on their side to have some kind of big confrontation here.

KING: Liz, what does your dad say about that appointment?

CHENEY: Larry, I can tell you what I think. I haven't asked him what he thinks about it. I think she deserves a fair hearing. She deserves a hearing, just like any other judicial appointment has had. I suspect she'll get that. I think the notion we should somehow treat her differently because of her gender or ethnicity is wrong. I don't think that's how this country should operate.

I think there's some questions that I think she will have to answer. She should be asked -- I think she will be asked to identify for us what cases it is on which her gender or her ethnicity had an impact, made a difference in how she decided those cases. I think that people need to be able to spend the time looking at her record and understanding better what her judicial philosophy is, and how the empathy that she's talked about played a role in deciding specific cases.

KING: Why, James, despite many downs and a lot of ups, does the president remain popular?

CARVILLE: Well, I mean, first of all, he's a very, very skilled person. It's been a very active presidency. You couldn't help but see him over in Egypt, and whenever he goes, the kind of reaction he gets. He's doing a lot of things.

People want it to work, obviously. I think that, you know, he's doing a good job so far. And people got a lot vested in it. And they would like to see this continued. But, you know, look, this is politics. If popularity got everything, I remember that President Bush at one time was at like 90 percent and ended up with the lowest poll ratings -- consistent poll ratings of any president ever.

So I wouldn't place too much into where we are 4.5 months in this. But I would say people are certainly encouraged about the early signs. People are feeling better about the country. Consumer confidence is up.

KING: Is it troubling to Republicans, Liz?

CHENEY: No, I think it's not unusual for a new president to have high approval ratings. But I would say one of the things that is troubling to Americans, I think, is extent to which this administration is focused on the president's popularity overseas. We've now seen several different occasions when he's been on the international trips, where he's not willing to say, flat out, I believe in American exceptionalism. I believe unequivocally, unapologetically, America is the best nation that ever existed in history, and clearly that exists today. Instead we've seen him do what we saw him do in the speech in Cairo, which is sort of, on one hand this, on the other hand that, and then attempt to put himself sort of above it all. I think that troubles people. Americans, whether Democrats or Republicans, want to know their president is the staunchest, strongest defender of the nation.

KING: Guys, sadly, we have run out of time. We'll have both of you back as quick as we can, because you're terrific guests. Liz Cheney and James Carville.

 

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