Thursday, September 02, 2004
Cracker Zell cracks up.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Judy, speaking of Zell Miller, he is here with us. Zell Miller, who delivered the keynote speech. We want to talk to you later. We'll be speaking with Tad Divine, a senior Democratic strategist for the Democratic political ticket.
But Senator Miller, you have accused the Democratic presidential nominee of being a flip-flopper, but remember, as you pointed out yourself, 12-years-ago you were here endorsing Bill Clinton and going after the first President Bush. The Democrats are saying, you've become a flip-flopper.
SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: They've said a lot of things worse than that. I don't think I've ever used the term flip-flopper of John Kerry. I've talked about this atrocious record that he's had for 20 years in the United States Senate. What a weak record it is on national defense and what a terrible record it is on raising taxes.
BLITZER: But as you well know, they're been many times over the years, you've worked very closely with him and praised him. The Democrats are circulating information that as recently as three years ago, you were praising him.
SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: That was before 9/11. That was along about maybe 2001, and I'd come to the Senate, been there for about five or six months. This man was a war hero, and I honor war heroes, and I honor John Kerry's service.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Miller, the Democrats are pointing out that John Kerry voted for 16 of 19 defense budgets that came through Congress while he was in the Senate, and many of these votes that you cited, Dick Cheney also voted against, that they were specific weapons systems.
MILLER: What I was talking about was a period of 19 years in the Senate. I've been in the Senate for four years. There's quite a few years' difference there. I have gotten documentation on every single one of those votes that I talked about here today. I've got more documentation here than the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library put together on that.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: You also were, I would say, almost indignant that anyone would possibly call America military occupiers, not liberators, on at least four occasions. President Bush has referred to the presence of American forces in Iraq as an occupation, and the question is: Are you not selectively choosing words to describe the same situation the president of the United States is describing?
MILLER: I don't know if the president of the United States uses those words, but I know Senator Kennedy and Senator Kerry have used them on several occasions.
GREENFIELD: Yes. So has President Bush.
MILLER: Well, I don't know about that.
GREENFIELD: Well, we'll...
BLITZER: You know that when the secretary -- when the vice president was the secretary of defense he proposed cutting back on the B-2 Bomber, the F-14 Tomcat as well. I covered him at the Pentagon during those years when he was raising serious concerns about those two weapons systems.
MILLER: Look, the record is, as I stated, he voted against, he opposed all of those weapons systems. That, to me, I think shows the kind of priority he has as far as national defense.
Look, John Kerry came back from Vietnam as a young man unsure of whether America was a force for good or evil in the world. He still has that uncertainty about him.
WOODRUFF: You praised him...
GREENFIELD: Then why did you say in 2001 that he strengthened the military? You said that three years ago.
MILLER: Because that was the biographical sketch that they gave me. This young senator -- not young senator, but new senator had come up there, and all I knew was that this man had won the Purple Heart three times and won the Silver Star and...
Look, I went back and researched the records, and I looked at these, and I -- when I was putting that speech together, I wanted to make sure, whenever I sat down with people like you who would take these talking points from the Democrats and who also have covered politics for years, that I would know exactly what I was talking about, and we don't have time to go through it on the air, but I can go through every one of those things that were mentioned about where he voted.
He voted against the B-1 Bomber...
BLITZER: A lot of...
MILLER: ... on October the 15th, '90, and on and on.
WOODRUFF: But do you simply reject the idea that Vice President Cheney, as Wolf said and as we know from the record, also voted against some of these systems?
MILLER: I don't think Cheney voted against these.
BLITZER: No, but he opposed some of them when he was the defense secretary, and sometimes he was overruled by the Congress because he was concerned, he was worried that the defense of the United States could be better served by some other weapons systems, not specifically those. I'm specifically referring to the B-2 and the F-14 Tomcat.
MILLER: I'm talking about John Kerry's record. I'll let Dick Cheney, the vice president, answer those charges. He knows what happened in the Department of Defense years ago. I don't know that.