My job at CNN, some of you may know, I'm not really a correspondent or technically a commentator, I'm an explainer, I'm a political analyst. So my job is really to explain what's going on. Our correspondents will tell you this is what happened today and then I come on the air and try to explain what it means.
I should hasten to point out there are some things I cannot explain. I call them the eternal mysteries of American politics. Among, them, why liberals cannot do talk radio. Al Franken is trying to give it a good try and we wish him luck, but it's not the format that liberals are very skillful at, and for that matter, it would say to me it is an eternal mystery why conservatives cannot do protest marchers. A conservative protest march is truly a pitiful thing. So those remain eternal mysteries.
I'm honored and pleased to be here in some part because it means finally this very disagreeable election is over. This is probably one of the most difficult and distasteful elections for many, many years, and people often ask me, "What's the best election you've ever covered?" And I would have to say that was the 1992 presidential campaign, which was truly exciting because in 1992 we had three candidates running for president, the first President Bush running for re-election, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot, remember him?
There was a time during that campaign when each of those three candidates was ahead. Believe it or not, you have to scratch your memories real hard to remember, but in May and June of 1992 Ross Perot was leading in the race for president and poor Bill Clinton, who had just won the California primary, was very upset because he beat Jerry Brown in California and Ross Perot was still leading in the race for president, until he got out of the race at the Democratic Convention, before he got back into the race later that year.
That was a wonderful campaign, very exciting. The issues really got engaged. I mean, it started early in the year with Jennifer Flowers and ended with the, of course, plurality victory of Bill Clinton. That was a true rock and roll and a great political story. And for the matter one of the best political stories I ever covered in an election campaign was just one year ago in California, the California recall. I mean, Arnold Schwarzenegger, it doesn't get much better than that, you know, and the firing of an incumbent governor who had just been re-elected one year before, and was fired by an upsurge of anger on the part of the voters. That was a real political story.
One of the worst political campaigns I suppose I ever covered, unfortunately for you here in Kansas, was 1996, when Bob Dole ran against Bill Clinton for president, and it was my misfortune to go on the air week after week and report that Bob Dole was losing. He had been losing the week before and I would say, "He's losing today, I imagine he'll be losing next week," and I wish I could make this story more interesting, but we had done 105 public opinion polls during the course of that campaign and Clinton was winning every single time. Dole is remembered and still honored and cherished as a great statesman in American political life, but in that year and under those circumstances, there was just no way it looked like he was going to be able to defeat Bill Clinton.
So some elections in the forces are very powerful and some elections in the forces are not overwhelming, and that as the case this year. You know, in 2000, like in 2004, we had fifty-fifty election. 2000, of course was famous for being as close as we've come in a long time to a perfect tie in American politics. But fifty-fifty can have two very different meanings. Fifty-fifty can mean, as the kids say today, whatever, and that is what it meant really in 2000.
Things were pretty good, you may recall, under Bill Clinton as president. Then we regarded it as a boom in the 1990's. Today more people would call it a bubble. Nevertheless, people were making a lot of money and they were pretty happy with the way things were under Bill Clinton. No one threatened us, the Cold War was over, and times looked pretty good. So they thought maybe we should just keep the Democrats in the office, because they had done a pretty good job.
On the other hand, Bill Clinton had a lot of problems as president, and a lot of voters thought it might be time for a change, so they were right on the line, they sort of wanted a change, but they sort of wanted to keep things the way they were under the Democrats.
And so a lot of voters looked at the choice that year, Bush and Gore, and they said, "Bush, Gore; Gore, Bush, whatever, I could go either way." And for week after week the polls were showing Bush a little bit ahead or Gore a little bit ahead and it would shift back and forth, because a lot of voters said it didn't make much difference who won. That was a fifty-fifty election where the real meaning of the choice was, "Whatever, we could live with either outcome." It was like if we were to do a poll and ask people, "Which would you prefer, chocolate cake or apple pie?" the answer you would get would probably be fifty-fifty, because people would say, "I don't know, chocolate cake, apple pie, whatever."
That's the way they felt in 2000 until the day after the election when suddenly millions of voters who didn't much care whether Bush or Gore won, suddenly when it became a sporting event that went into overtime, suddenly people cared desperately that the right candidate won, and we saw a sudden upsurge and interest in the election when it went into a Florida recount. And people were suddenly desperately interested that the right guy did get elected, and there was much more interest in that election after election day than before election day. And people, of course, retained their anger for years after election day 2000, because then it became fifty-fifty with a very different meaning, a meaning that was carried over to the election this month.
It wasn't "whatever." I can assure you that between Kerry and Bush very few voters said "Whatever." Most voters were bitterly and deeply divided. It was a different meaning of fifty-fifty. And if you look at the map of the election this year, one of the most striking things about this year's election was how similar the 2004 election map looks to the 2000 election map. It's almost the same map. Only three states changed parties in 2004 from their vote in 2000. The astute political science students among you will, of course, know the states I'm talking about. Two states switched from Gore to Bush. One of them was Iowa, and the other one was New Mexico, although New Mexico is still counting ballots, so we're not entirely sure where they're going to end up, but for the moment it looks like Bush will carry New Mexico, while their counting their absentee ballots.
One state switched from Bush to Kerry, and that was, of course, New Hampshire, which is in Kerry's back yard. It went narrowly for Bush last time and it went narrowly for John Kerry this time. Other than that, red and blue were about the same throughout the country.
An imagine that. We've had a very dramatic four-year period. We've had a devastating terrorist attack, the first ever in the United States, the first attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, and right in a major American city. We've had anthrax attacks, we've had a serious recession, we've had a wave of corporate scandals, we had same sex marriages, we've had two wars, one in Afghanistan, one in Iraq, we've had a sequence of very dramatic - I should say traumatic changes in this country, and yet, most amazingly, I think, the map of the 2004 election looks pretty much like the map of 2000.
Things have not really changed that much, which is remarkable, if you think about it. You recall that John Edwards, the Democratic candidate for vice president talked about two Americas. He meant two Americas that were divided by class, the haves and the have nots. "The truth is," he told the Democratic Convention in Boston in July, "we still live in two Americas, one for people who have lived in the American dream and don't have to worry, and another for Americans who work hard and still have to struggle to make ends meet.
That kind of class division is a familiar subject for Democrats. Most Americans fall in the "have not" category in the Democratic Convention, New York Gov. Mario Cuomo said of the Republicans, "Their policies divide the nation into the lucky and the left out, into the royalty and the rabble." Republicans constantly accuse Democrats who use this rhetoric of stirring up class warfare and dividing the country.
But I'm here to tell you that the division that dominates American politics right now is not social class or education or income, it's culture. Red and blue does not mean haves versus have nots. If it did, the Democrats would be in better shape, because there are a lot more have nots than there are haves. And that's the division that works for Democrats.
But that division does not dominate American politics. Red versus blue means liberals versus conservatives. It's culture, and certainly our poll show that more people call themselves conservatives than liberals. So that's a division that Democrats are quick to denounce.
The keynote speaker at the Democratic Convention, Barak Obama, said "There is not a liberal America and a conservative America, there's only the United States of America.
Republicans demonize Democrats by calling them a liberal party. Democrats demonize Republicans by calling them the party of the rich. And what's interesting is these two divisions cut across each other. The Democratic party includes rich and poor, and so does the Republican party. There are not limousine liberals who nest along the two coasts of the country in very high property value areas, and there are not country club conservatives who vote very strongly Republican, both rich.
There are still lunch bucket liberals, working class voters who vote for the Democrats because they think the Democrats will protect them economically, and there are a lot of populist conservatives, many of them church goers who vote Republican, even though they're not particularly affluent, because they believe the Republican party will protect their values, and they are less affluent voters. Both party coalitions cut right across class lines, much more than they have in many decades.
An astute political observer, possibly the most astute in American politics, Bill Clinton, acknowledges that today's politics has a lot more to do with values than with class. And at the core of what value split in America we have a very, very ancient cultural conflict. In fact, I would describe it as a cultural civil war, the civil war of the 1960s, which is now nearly 50 years old.
Clinton told the American book sellers after his book was published last summer, "If you look back on the '60s and on balance you think the '60s did more good than harm, you're probably a Democrat. If you that that the '60s did more harm than good, you're probably a Republican."
And that's about as concise a definition as I can give you of what the two parties stand for. It's a split between two figures who came of age in the '60s. Bill Clinton, who clearly sees more good than harm in the '60s, and George W. Bush, who is of the same generation, the same baby boomer generation, but who sees more harm than good in the culture clashes of the 1960s. That continues to define American politics.
I describe it as a cultural civil war, and it's a cultural civil war we have never gotten over in Americans politics. In some ways, it is like the real civil war of the 1860s Americans did die. Fifty-eight thousand Americans died in the Vietnam war, and that remains and remained a bitter memory of that generation. But we can't seem to get over the cultural civil war of the 1960s.
I thought we had, and I, in fact, went on the air to talk about it after Sept. 11th, when the country for one year pulled together. For one year we had unity in this country. It was a tragic unity, it was borne of a terrifying terrorist attack on American soil, but for one year, from September 2001 to September 2002, the country was unified, and for one year - it sounds amazing to report this - but for one year - I have the evidence, I have a Ph.D. I'm supposed to have evidence and do - a majority of Democrats supported George W. Bush and approved of the job he was doing as president.
And I went on the air and said, "Finally after September 11th - finally perhaps we have put the divisions that have poisoned American politics since the 1960s behind us and we are entering a new era in American politics."
Ladies and gentlemen, it lasted exactly one year. Something happened in September 2002 that brought all the old divisions back. It was September 2002, that the Bush White House began the Iraq rollout. Remember the chief of staff announced, "You don't roll out a new product until after Labor Day," and they were ready to present the Iraq war as the new policy of the Bush administration. They waited until Labor Day 2002, then they started talking about the need to go to war in Iraq, to remove Sadam Hussein, and then to my dismay, all the old divisions of American politics came roaring back and the red and the blue map once again prevailed in American politics.
Now, the figure who exploited that division most effectively in this election was, of course, Carl Rove. He's now the toast of Washington, the successor to Lee Atwater and James Carville as the boy genius of American politics. I suppose you can call him a boy, he's 52 years old, but he is the great genius of American politics. President Bush hailed him as the architect of this election victory.
What did Carl Rove do exactly? Well, it has become the prevailing theory of this election, particularly among Democrats, that what Carl Rove did was organize a stealth army below the media radar screen, a stealth army of evangelical voters because we didn't see it coming, nobody reported on it. We didn't ask too many questions about moral values, and they pulled a surprise attack on election day and overwhelmed Democrats at the polls, who did a very good job of mobilizing the Democratic base.
Young people, minorities, single women, they came out to vote in very large numbers, but they were overwhelmed by Rove's raiders at the polls, because they massed in the churches all over the country, and the media didn't see it coming, so it came as a shock and a surprise to the Democrats that there was this army out there. And after, as we all know by now, our network polls showed moral values as the number one issue of concern for voters this year.
And it was, because the voters were otherwise divided on the issues. They were split. Those people who said the big issues were the war in Iraq, the economy and jobs, health care, they voted for Kerry, that was about half the voters. Those voters who said the biggest issues were moral values and the war on terrorism, they were about half the voters - and taxes - they voted for George W. Bush. So the voters were really divided on the issues and that enabled those who came out to vote and make a statement on moral values to show up as the single largest issue.
They were only 22 percent, they didn't dominate the electorate, but it is true that the evangelical voters did show up in large numbers, as did everybody else. And it is also true that they voted about 80 percent for George W. Bush.
Rove's strategy of rallying the conservative base worked. It's not the whole story of this election, because what we found was that most voters on election day thought that abortion should remain legal. Sixty percent favored some form of legal recognition of same sex relationships, if not by marriage, then at least by civil unions. The voters this year were no more religious, no more church going than they'd been in the past. Yes, religious voters favored Bush by a couple of points more than they had in 2000, but so did non-church going voters than in the past.
Issues like abortion and gay rights and stem cell research are the most divisive issues in the electorate, so it's very easy to read Mr. Rove's strategy of energizing the conservative base as a strategy of divide and conquer. But I don't think that's exactly what happened in this election.
You know, throughout the campaign Republican critics of Rove's strategy were fearful that a sharp-edged campaign to rally the conservative base would end up alienating moderates. And they were very worried about that, that the swing voters, if Bush ran hard on stem cell research and a federal marriage amendment and anti-abortion that they would alienate the moderates. I don't think Rove's achievement was simply to energize the party's base, it was to do that without alienating moderates. And that was the real miracle that he achieved, because from 2000 to 2004 Bush's support held steady among moderates and independents.
Bush actually carried the Catholic vote against a Roman Catholic candidate. When Kennedy ran, the second Catholic to be nominated for president in 1960, he got almost 80 percent of the Catholic vote. But this year the only voters for whom Kerry's Catholicism was an issue seemed to be the Catholic Church, who seemed to be offended that he didn't follow teachings of the church on a lot of issues, including abortion. Most other voters didn't care and the Catholic vote went by a narrow margin for George Bush.
Bush's biggest gains came among women. Kerry carried women, but by only three points, where Gore had carried women by 11 points. And perhaps the most significant gain by George Bush this year - a very significant gain, because they're the largest minority group and one of the fastest growing in American politics - was among Hispanic voters. That came as a real shock. Bush carried 44 percent of the Hispanic vote across the country. No Republican presidential candidate, including Ronald Reagan, have ever done that well among Hispanic voters. In fact, he got almost 60 percent of the Mexican-American vote in Texas, his home state.
Why? Well, the easiest explanation is a lot of Hispanic voters not only are religious and follow the teachings of the church, but they have ties to the military. Hispanics volunteer and serve in the military in disproportionate numbers. So Bush, the candidate who had a strong appeal to military families, did exceptionally well among Hispanic voters.
And that suggests that he had something going for him besides religion and conservative values, and that was the that was a strong leader and he had a clear stand on the issues. For eight months the Bush campaign kept up a relentless attack on John Kerry as a flip-flopper. It goes all the way back to March 3rd, the day after Super Tuesday, when Bush went before a Republican audience and said, "Senator Kerry has been in Washington long enough to take both sides on just about every issue." And it ended at midnight on November 1st, the Monday night before the election, when Bush came home to Texas and at a rally in Dallas he said - he denounced Kerry's vote against funding the troops in the Iraq, and he said "Then when he cast that vote he entered the flip-flop hall of fame when he said 'I actually voted for the 87 billion dollars before I voted against it.'"
And the voters got the message. On election day most voters described John Kerry not as a man who said what he believes, but as a man who said what he thinks most people want to hear.
I think the problem was Kerry never had a coherent narrative message, a theme for his campaign. Bush got there first, or Carl Rove, or both of them, and portrayed him for eight solid months relentlessly, mercilessly as a flip-flopper, as a man who was wavering and inconsistent and that prevent Kerry from getting across the message he needed to get across to win this election.
What was the message that Kerry tried to win on, that could have won this election? You know, my job at CNN, I like to portray, is an explainer, as someone whose job is to understand the times. When he was prime minister of Britain, a great statesman, Benjamin Disraeli, once received a note from an Oxford University undergraduate, who wrote the great prime minister and said, "Prime Minister, I am considering a career in public life. What is it that I must know to make a career in public life?" And Disraeli said, "Young man," he wrote him back in longhand, the note is preserved at the Disraeli home in London - he said, "Young man, there are only two things you must know to pursue a career in public life. You must know yourself and you must know the times."
Now, we have a entire journalistic industry which sees as its mission explaining who the candidates are, what they eat for breakfast, how they're brought up. We know a lot about John Kerry, we know a lot about George W. Bush, his religious values, etc. My job is a little bit different. My job is to try to understand the times, which is crucial in politics, because the times can change in a week. And my job is to look at the polls, to go out there and travel the country, to understand what there is - and this is - frankly, if some of you are in marketing, you know this is just market research. You have to go out and find what there's a market for in any political year.
Kerry needed a defining theme, and that has to be something the voters want that they're not getting from the incumbent. In 1960, after eight years of President Eisenhower, voters thought the country was slowing down. Particularly after the launching of Sputnik and after the U2 incident, people thought the United States was losing ground to the Soviet Union. Americans after Eisenhower were looking for a leader who offered youth, dynamism, vigor. That was John Kennedy, who won the election very narrowly on a promise to get the country moving again.
The Democrats got elected, they served for eight years, and as we all remember from the 1960s, the country was torn apart by racial protest, by violence in America's cities, by student disruptions at universities, by the war in Vietnam. The country was torn apart and Americans desperately wanted an experienced professional who could bring order to America. And so what did we do? We resurrected a politician from the political dead.
Clinton liked to call himself the comeback kid. He had nothing on Richard Nixon. Richard Nixon had lost the presidency and two years later he ran for governor of California and he lost that, too. Who could come back from two defeats like that? The answer is Richard Nixon did it. He came back because he had something to offer in 1968 that Americans were desperate for. He looked like a man who could bring order to the country. And after the turmoil of the '60s that's exactly what Americans wanted. At the end of the campaign Nixon saw in the crowd a young girl with a sign that said, "Bring us together," and he went over to the young girl and he grabbed the sign, and he said, "Yes, that's what I'm running to do. I'm running to bring the country together," at a time when America was even more divided than - is it difficult to imagine - more divided than it is today.
He ran as a candidate who could bring order to the country. It helped that he was right in the middle in 1968. In the Republican party he had Nelson Rockefeller on his left and he had Ronald Reagan on his right. And in the general election he had Hubert Humphrey on his left and he had George Wallace on his right. But perhaps more importantly, wherever Humphrey and Wallace showed up there was a riot.
Richard Nixon was a man of order, who could bring order to the country. So we elected him and, of course, we got Watergate. After Watergate, after that bitter and terrible experience, one candidate figured out what there was a market for in 1976. He came out of nowhere. I've been to Plains, Georgia, fold, believe me, it's nowhere. He came out of nowhere, a one-term former segregationist governor of Georgia, totally unknown, who ran on a simple promise that he brought to Iowa and New Hampshire. The promise was "I will never lie to you." And after Watergate millions of Americans heard that promise and they said, "At last, a president who will never lie to us."
He promised integrity in the White House, and, you know what, we got it, we got a man of integrity and Jimmy Carter is honored throughout the world, he's a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who is honored still as a man of honor, decency and morality. Morality in government was what he sold and morality in government was what there was a powerful market for after Watergate.
But when we elected Jimmy Carter we discovered we were missing something. He was criticized as wishy-washy and ineffectual. He didn't seem to be much of a leader at a time of great challenge, when inflation was out of control and there was terrible unemployment in the country, and a gas shortage that brought long lines at the gas pumps, and at the end, the hostage crisis where he seemed totally ineffectual in getting anything resolved. The country in 1980 yearned for strong, decisive leadership. Enter Ronald Reagan.
I don't think Ronald Reagan could have been elected in any other year but 1980, because he scared people. They were afraid if we voted for Ronald Reagan he's start a war, or he'd throw old people out into the snow. He said scary things. And if you remember, many of you who were around for the 1980 election, it wasn't until the last week of that campaign, after the one and only debate with Jimmy Carter, when he gave the famous closing statement, "Ask yourself if you're better off than you were four years ago. Is it easier to buy things in the store?"
One debate, and Americans breathed a sigh of relief and took a calculated risk that Ronald Reagan wasn't a dangerous man, that he wouldn't the terrible things he sometimes said he wanted to do. And it was safe to vote for Ronald Reagan. So we took a change, we elected him, and for 12 long years the Democrats are out of power.
It took Bill Clinton to finally figure out the right message to compete with the Republicans. George Bush was president and under the first President Bush, who served with honor, who was a hero of the world, he stood astride the world like a colossus after the Gulf War, 90 percent approval. The everything began to fall apart when the country had a bitter recession of the early 1990s, and George Bush the father was famously out of touch with ordinary Americans.
Remember when he showed up in a supermarket and seemed unfamiliar with the working of a supermarket scanner, and in the town hall debate - I think that was in St. Louis - he looked at his watch as if he was impatient to get out of there, didn't want to answer questions from voters. He was out of touch with ordinary voters at a time when ordinary voters were in deep anxiety and pain and were looking for a president who felt their pain. Bill Clinton marketed empathy. That was his stock and trade. George Bush, it wasn't a problem of his competence, he could do the job, but people thought he didn't understand what life was like for ordinary Americans. Now, Clinton had a strength, empathy, he also had an obvious weakness. We elected Clinton knowing full well that there was a problem. Because the first thing we ever learned about Clinton before the Hampshire primary of 1992, was about some relationship with Jennifer Flowers. And the second thing we ever learned about Bill Clinton was about his peculiar relationship with the draft board during the Vietnam war. So Americans were fully aware that Clinton might have problems of character.
And even on election day when we asked Americans, "Do you think Bill Clinton is honest and trustworthy?" most Americans said, "Well, honestly, no." And only 43 percent voted for him. That's why there was such a thing as Ross Perot, because Americans were completely convinced that George Bush didn't deserve a second term, but they weren't confident in Bill Clinton because they had problems with his integrity and character. But they took a chance.
I like to describe the voters as going to the polls in 1992 with their eyes wide open and their fingers crossed that Clinton could do the job of turning the economy around because he was smart, he was knowledgeable, he was surrounded by a lot of very bright people, he could get the job done. And they crossed their fingers his problems of character would not create a constitutional crisis. Well, guess what? We got what we voted for. He could do the job.
With the Republican Congress he helped to turn the economy around and we got the deficit under control and had for several years a budget surplus in this country. The job got done and in his second term his problems of character did create a constitutional crisis, which wasn't a surprise to people, because they knew perfectly well that he had certain problems and they could come home and become and issue, which, of course, they did.
What did voters want in 2000 that they weren't getting from Bill Clinton? The candidate who captured the times was not Bush and it wasn't Al Gore. It was the candidate who ran in New Hampshire by driving a bus around the state. The bus had a very memorable name. It was called "The Straight Talk Express," because when John McCain ran for president he ran as the un-Clinton. The one thing people were not getting from Bill Clinton was straight talk.
When I would go around the country in 2000 and ask voters what they thought of President Clinton, they would usually say, "Well, he's a bit of a rascal, but, you know, he feels your pain, he connects with you, I can listen to him for hours." And I would ask them, "What has Bill Clinton ever said that you find memorable as president?" And they would sit in silence and then they'd start to giggle and someone would say, " I did not have sexual relations with that woman." And I'd say, "Is there anything else Bill Clinton ever said as president that you find memorable?" "I didn't inhale." "Anything else?" And they'd think for a minute and someone would say, "It depends on what the meaning of is is."
Those are all the opposite of straight talk. Not only that, McCain was a war hero, Clinton is still regarded by many Americans as a draft dodger. And McCain attacked the power of big money in politics. Clinton broke all records to date in brining big money into American politics. So McCain was the hero. His problem was he couldn't find a party that would nominate him because he insulted conservatives. He said the Republican Party cannot win as a conservative party, it has to turn itself into a reform party. And conservatives listened to that and said, "We have fought and suffered and sacrificed for decades to win control of the Republican Party, we're not turning it over to you."
So the result is McCain could have easily been elected; instead there was a choice between Bush and Gore, and as I've said, most voters didn't see a big difference.
Eventually they did see something in George Bush that they thought was valuable, they saw good character, which was the brand name Bush. Bush meant good character, because his father was always regarded and honored as a man of character and decency and they saw that in the governor of Texas.
Not only that, but they saw a guy in George W. Bush who was remote from the evil, mean-spirited politics of Washington. He wasn't part of Newt Gingrich's contract with America. He had nothing to do with impeachment, and he governed Texas with Democratic coalitions. So they thought, "This is a guy who can fulfill the promise that George Bush made in the 2000 election."
Remember when George Bush ran for president? He said "I'm running to be a uniter and not a divider." And after Bill Clinton, that's what Americans wanted.
I submit to you that as president the country is much more divided than it's been in decades. He took a divided country under Bill Clinton, and after the Iraq war brought out all the old divisions, the country is more divided than ever.
What were Americans looking for this year? They were looking for a candidate who could fulfill the promise that Bush made in 2000, and did not deliver, to be a uniter and not a divider. That's how Kerry could win, to run as a uniter. And he promised all the time, "I will be a president who unites our country," he said in rally after rally. He knew that that's what voters wanted, that's what there was a market for this year.
But Bush and Rove had gotten to him first. It is difficult for people - for voters to see you as a uniter if they see you as wavering and inconsistent. That was the image that Carl Rove worked hard to create and he did it in full view of the media radar screen. It wasn't an evangelical army, it was to portray Kerry was wavering and inconsistent, which immediately undermined any effort he might make to present himself as someone who could unite the country.
There are some candidates out there who could unite this bitter partisan culture. John McCain who got re-elected with almost 80 percent of the vote this month in Arizona, is still regarded as a heroic figure and unifier.
I can think of another one. Early on in this year I said the way Kerry can win this election is to find his inner Arnold. Arnold Schwarzenegger has emerged in a very strong Democratic state, California, and has been a remarkably successful governor. On Nov. 2, when Californians were voting 54 percent for John Kerry, we asked the voters of California "What do you think of Arnold Schwarzenegger?" Sixty-nine percent of California voters, the same ones who were voting for John Kerry, 69 percent approved of the job Arnold Schwarzenegger is doing as governor. The problem is, of course, at the moment he can't run for president, although as you probably know, there is an Amend for Arnold movement going on right now starting in California.
Schwarzenegger could be the great uniter of American politics but at the moment he's ineligible.
Rudy Giuliano? Maybe, But he's not much of a team player. Colin Powell could unify the country, but he's shown he's not really interested in politics. Any of them could be elected in a moment. Interestingly, they're all Republicans. Isn't that interesting? The great uniters in American politics.
There is a theory, which I'll just leave you with, that in 2008 we could have a very interesting election, the first election since 1952 in which there is not incumbent president or vice president on the ballot. If the incumbent president can't run like Reagan, the vice president usually runs, Bush. Clinton, Gore. This could be the first time since 1952 in which there is no incumbent president or vice president on the ballots, because Dick Cheney is not expected to run for president.
So it could be wide open in both political parties, unless - and this is all the gossip in Washington - unless Dick Cheney decides that his age or his health do not permit him to serve out his term as vice president, in which case if he leaves the ticket, George Bush will be able to name a new vice president, who then has to be confirmed by a majority vote of the House and Senate.
He will then have the opportunity to name his designated successor, who would then be the Republican nominee. And I can tell you that in Washington there are lots of names being floated around, who will replace Cheney as vice president and be the Republican candidate in 2008?
And at the top of the list is a man, who though he disagrees with Bush on many issues, is acceptable to conservatives, he's anti-abortion, he calls himself a conservative, who would be the great unifier of American politics, who campaigned loyally for George Bush this year and gave a dramatic speech at the Republican Convention. So many, many smart people are saying if Bush is smart he'll designate John McCain as his vice president and then he would sew up the nomination for 2008 and the country could at least find a unifying figure who could heal the bitter divisions that were created in this country in the 1960s and made worse by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.. Thank you very much.