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Will Hillary Clinton Run for President in 2004?

Aired August 29, 2003 - 20:35   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The hot topic in politics today doesn't concern any of the nine Democrats who are running for president, but a Democrat who's not. Syndicated columnist Richard Reeves says that shortly after Labor Day, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and her advisers are going to discuss whether she should get into the 2004 race. Nevermind that she has repeatedly said she won't run. Or that she said it again today.
Joining me from Miami for a little what-if this evening is David Bossie. He is the president of Citizens United.

And from Chicago this evening, Democrat Nancy Skinner. She's running for one of the Illinois Senate seats.

Good evening, guys. Nice to see you. Thanks for joining me.

NANCY SKINNER, (D), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: Hello, Soledad.

DAVID BOSSIE, PRES., CITIZENS UNITED: Thanks for having us.

O'BRIEN: My pleasure.

Mr. Bossie, let's start with you. A year ago -- this was a year ago -- you wrote an article that said this -- "Whether you love or hate Hillary Clinton, she will be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004."

You wrote that a year ago. Why were you so certain then and are you just as certain now?

BOSSIE: You know, I am. I still feel very strongly that this is her time. If I was advising her, I would urge her to consider getting in the race. She can vanquish all of the Democratic possible candidates right now from Kerry, Lieberman, and on down. She beats them all easily -- even Howard Dean -- very easily for the nomination. It's clearly whether or not they think George W. Bush is vulnerable. And I think if you're a Democrat you have to see his numbers have come down dramatically.

O'BRIEN: Miss Skinner, then, is all this debate about Senator Clinton entering the race precisely because the -- there's the lack of enthusiasm about the candidates who've already entered the race?

SKINNER: I don't think so. I think there's tremendous enthusiasm out there. I'm on it on the campaign trail myself, Soledad. So I'm talking to average people. And the Democratic base is on fire. They see assault after assault by this administration on the issues they care about -- jobs and the economy and the environment -- and they blame the Bush administration. And they like the candidates.

O'BRIEN: Well, but you're saying they are they're on fire behind who?

SKINNER: Well, I think we saw -- we've seen Howard Dean pick up tremendous momentum, but Kerry's not far behind and Dick Gephardt has great union support. I don't see that they're lacking.

Now, having said that, I think they love Hillary Clinton. I think women, in particular -- and I admit to voting for a person with ovaries myself -- we want to see more women in Congress. So if she does decide to run, I think that she will pull away a tremendous amount of women who just really want to see women advance in Washington.

O'BRIEN: All right. Well, Mr. Bossie, I want to read you something. This is from a statement that Senator Clinton's office released today.

It says, "Senator Clinton has repeatedly said that she will serve out her full six year term. She loves her job. She's working on being the best senator she can be for the people of New York."

Then later, she, herself, came out and said, "I am absolutely ruling it out. "

So my question to you would be, is there a big problem, or do you predict a future problem when you come out and make a statement as definitive as that, and then change your mind, which you're predicting she's going to do?

BOSSIE: No, Soledad. Look, I read that story on the "Drudge Report" just like a lot of other people did. And I chuckled to myself because Bill Clinton in 1990, when he was running for re-election as governor of Arkansas, made a proclamation, if he -- if re-elected governor, would fulfill his term as governor. And less than two years later he was giving his inaugural address, becoming president of the United States.

Clearly, politicians can change their mind. And I believe she will be drafted. I think that you will see a movement afoot over the next month or so, six weeks, where you will see that she is answering a draft call, not necessarily that she's entering the race, you know, willingly.

O'BRIEN: Miss skinner, obviously there's a huge upside to running and winning the nomination. But is there a giant downside to running and losing? Because a lot of issues that had really dogged Mrs. Clinton when she was first lady sort of were irrelevant when the Clintons left the White House. Things like Whitewater. Will those come back and be back in the forefront and be difficult for her to face and tackle? SKINNER: I don't think so. I think they're old news. And so you can't replay those stories. And they were found largely to be -- well, all of it untrue. They had spent $100 million and never found any significant wrongdoing by any -- only, I think, one conviction in the Clinton administration.

So I think it will be considered old news and she could run without that baggage. I think that's why Al Gore could have run again because he had already been through that mill. And now with these new candidates I think there will be a certain amount of trashing that goes on in today's politics, where she will have an advantage from that standpoint.

O'BRIEN: That's going to be our final word tonight. Nancy Skinner, David Bossie, nice to see you guys. Thanks for joining me.

SKINNER: You bet.

BOSSIE: Thank you.

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