SHIELDS & GIGOT
FEBRUARY 23, 1996
On the Friday after the New Hampshire primary, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, and "Wall Street Journal" columnist Paul Gigot, make predictions about Pat Buchanan, and remember late California governor, Pat Brown.
PAUL GIGOT, Wall Street Journal: I think that there are a lot of Republicans who remember what Pat Buchanan stood for in 1988--in 1992. His views are actually fairly well known. I do think, though, that this campaign, there is no comparison with Pat Buchanan to the last one. He's so much better. I mean, he's running with little money; he's running like Stonewall Jackson against the Union Army. He's running circles around 'em. He's going to, flying out of New Hampshire, flying to Mount Rushmore, standing in front of the Presidents and quoting all four Presidents support my policy. He's running a much better campaign, and those messages that he's hitting are resonating better, and he's more optimistic about 'em in many respects. So in some respects, it's not that people are tuning out the other stuff; it's he's running a better campaign.
JIM LEHRER: What about Cynthia's point, Mark, that he, the Republican establishment, says, hey, where did this guy come from, she says, hey, he came from the Republican Party?
MARK SHIELDS, Washington Post: Well, Cynthia is right. I mean, Pat Buchanan's credentials as a Republican certainly are stronger and longer, or strong and long as most people in the field. He worked for Richard Nixon. He was a loyalist right to the end. He worked for Ronald Reagan, and he's been an ardent polemicist for the party for a long time and the conservative positions within the party. They are making an enormous mistake, the Republican establishment is, in my judgment. They are turning Pat Buchanan into a sympathetic underdog, irrespective of positions. It's Goliath. They're piling on. I mean, suit, after suit, after suit, after suit stands up there and uses adjectives in attacking him, ignorant, stupid. That's known in the business, Jim, as blame the customer. That's telling the voters who voted for him they're dumb. All right. There have been four contests; he's won three and had one second. All right. Lamar Alexander who's a wonderful governor and a splendid candidate, this isn't the Olympics. I mean, a third place doesn't get you a Silver Medal here. I mean, he started telling Bob Dole to get out of the race, and he hasn't even finished better than third. I mean, I honestly think that they're making an enormous mistake. It started with the Huntley--the Brinkley Show last week when Sam Donaldson and George Will, who don't agree on anything, jumped on Pat Buchanan, and Frank Fahrenkopf, Ronald Reagan's Republican national chairman, said he had never seen anybody handle negative attack better in his life than Pat Buchanan, which reinforces Paul's point.
JIM LEHRER: But what about, what about some of the issues that these folks are raising? Mayor Guiliani of New York said that he's raised serious questions about anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic views that Pat Buchanan has, bigotry as it relates to race and all of that, shouldn't that--shouldn't those questions be raised of somebody? is that piling on, Paul, or is that just a legitimate thing to raise?
MR. GIGOT: I think those, that is well known about Pat Buchanan, and I don't think that it really helps Republicans now to--I agree thoroughly with Mark on this point about calling him names and using adjectives and using--you can't beat him with epithets. You can't beat him by using the language of liberals in a Republican primary, the same language liberals use against Bob Dole, extreme.
JIM LEHRER: Extremist.
MR. GIGOT: And all that. You have to go after his arguments. Bob Dole spent in New Hampshire tens of thousands of dollars calling Lamar Alexander a liberal, and it worked somewhat. He ought to call Pat Buchanan a liberal, because despite the point about Republicans having created Pat Buchanan, on economics, he's pretty much gone to the other side of the fence. Buchanan is really doing some things with great skill. He's claiming the mantel of Goldwater and Reagan, and he's running on the economics of Dick Gephardt and David Bonior. And I think that's--
JIM LEHRER: Do you buy that?
MR. GIGOT: Well, it's got him 27 percent. It hasn't won him the nomination. What Republicans have to do is they have to go and some of them are starting to, some of the cooler heads, is to say, look, Pat Buchanan has hit a nerve; his diagnosis is right, but he's selling snake oil as a remedy, he's selling something that isn't going to raise the incomes like he says. In fact, it's going to lead to decline and hurt your incomes.
JIM LEHRER: Now, what about Charles Krauthamer's point, a columnist in the "Washington Post" this morning, said that essentially what Buchanan has done is kill the Republican Revolution because he's out there saying these guys in Washington can't be trusted, and these guys in Washington are not--listening to these guys in Washington won't take of your problems and his point is, hey, hey, it's our guys, the Republicans, Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress, and he's blown the whole deal.
MR. SHIELDS: Pat Buchanan didn't do that. He was the Paul Revere. He announced that it was over. I mean, Phil Gramm ran on the Republican Revolution. Phil Gramm was the distilled essence of the Republican Revolution, and Phil Gramm's back in Texas now, trying to scramble to run for reelection to the Senate. I mean, it was, it was over, Jim. There's no question about it. What Mike Barnicle said, I think, Pat Buchanan stepped into it, Paul says he's identified a problem, there's a problem there, and people are upset but he's got the wrong remedy. Well, what are the other remedies? A balanced budget amendment, that's a remedy for people's flat incomes? A flat tax? I mean, people look at that and say, wait a minute, at least one guy in the whole race that isn't on the Democratic side, on the Republican side, who's talking about the problems that we face, that three out of four American males who did not graduate from college who've seen their lives flattened.
MR. GIGOT: And you can't do it by raising taxes on the border. I mean, that's one problem with Buchanan, but Mark is right in the sense that what's happened in the Republican Party, it's been true for a long time, it's been true really for a number of years, there has been a gap--the growth wing of the party, the Jack Kemp wing, has really not had a candidate in this race. Steve Forbes tried it, and when he came in with a flat tax, offering it frankly as something that would promote growth and spur the economy, a flat tax as a tax cut, the other Republicans chewed him to bits.
JIM LEHRER: They really went after him.
MR. GIGOT: And they used Democratic arguments to do it, giving Buchanan an opening as the only one who was speaking to these concerns. Now, Newt Gingrich issued a memo today, in fact, that said, well, maybe we ought to start thinking about growth, and one of the mistakes the Republicans made, the whole last year, was they only talked about the balanced budget. They never put it in a broader context that said we can help you grow the economy.
JIM LEHRER: Where does Pat Buchanan fit into the Republican Revolution that we've been talking about on this program for the last year?
MR. SHIELDS: The Republican Revolution, Jim, is--is a congressional experience.
JIM LEHRER: You're saying--
MR. SHIELDS: That's right. This is a Presidential election. I mean, both parties, I mean, our parties are sort of these great large vessels and whoever fills them up defines which way they're sailing and who becomes the Presidential nominee. It isn't a congressional agenda. I mean, Newt Gingrich, in fairness to Newt Gingrich, he was the one who attacked and was probably the most devastating in the attack upon Steve Forbes.
MR. GIGOT: I agree with that. I agree with that.
MR. SHIELDS: But what Pat Buchanan is riding is the same anti-establishment, anti-Washington volatility that has shaped and directed American politics of the '90s. It elected Bill Clinton in 1992 and it unelected George Bush. It unelected Bill Clinton's Democrats in 1994, it elected a Republican Congress. It's about to dis-elect a Republican Congress in '96.
JIM LEHRER: But that's my point, which I'm not making very well here. Paul, why is it that when Buchanan makes that statement to a group of Republicans that hey, the guys in Washington can't be trusted, whatever, that they don't say, hey, those are our guys now, why don't they respond that way? I mean, why is that message not gotten over to rank and file Republicans?
MR. GIGOT: Well, one of the interesting exit poll numbers in New Hampshire that wasn't widely publicized was that of the voters in that primary 48 percent said the Republicans in Congress hadn't gone far enough. They hadn't really done much at all to--and certainly they hadn't passed a good deal of their agenda. I mean, it's been stalled. It's been stopped by a President who vetoed these things, and that's the kind of thing--that's the kind of case that Bob Dole in his--
JIM LEHRER: So it may have looked like a revolution here, but it doesn't look like a revolution out there--
MR. GIGOT: It certainly doesn't--
JIM LEHRER: --is what you are saying?
MR. GIGOT: --out on the ground. No, that's absolutely right.
MR. SHIELDS: There's a widening gap, Jim, between the party establishment and the grassroots, there's two on the Democratic side, there's two on the Republican side, it's becoming acutely visible in this campaign. I mean, the enthusiasm, the passion, the zeal in Texas is in the Buchanan campaign. The entire establishment is with Bob Dole, and it's a question, I mean, whether, in fact, they're going to be able to deliver.
JIM LEHRER: Yeah. Quickly, what kind of marks do you give Sen. Dole on how he's conducted himself since Tuesday and those results? We're sitting here three days later, four days later.
MR. GIGOT: Well, the remark of make an extreme point, that was a mistake, calling him extreme, I thought. I thought it was a mistake to skip the debate.
JIM LEHRER: The one in Arizona last month?
MR. GIGOT: The one in Arizona. Pat Buchanan might win Arizona. I think he's probably the favorite to win in Arizona right now. And that would certainly hurt Bob Dole going into these Southern primaries, particularly because one of the problems, the doubts about Bob Dole that a lot of Republicans have, is can he make the case, and if he shies away from getting into a position where he can make the case, it just feeds those doubts.
JIM LEHRER: And does he have to make the case? Is he stuck with making the case for the revolution, the congressional case, is that--
MR. SHIELDS: No.
JIM LEHRER: No?
MR. SHIELDS: I think what he--what the Pat Buchanan candidacy has given the Dole campaign finally a sense of mission and a sense of vision, I mean, he wants the Republican Party that isn't Pat Buchanan's Republican Party, I think that's what he can do and make the argument against him, and I think that's what he has to do. I think Pat Buchanan made a serious mistake--Paul disagrees with me--by going to South Dakota. It is a photo opportunity, Jim--
JIM LEHRER: You mean, Mt. Rushmore?
MR. SHIELDS: --that no Presidential candidate can resist, all right. They all want to go to Mt. Rushmore and be seen and when they look at it, people look at it and they say, wait a minute, there's Jefferson, there's Teddy Roosevelt, there's Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, I don't care who it is, I don't care if it's Franklin Roosevelt, he doesn't stack up, but they, they all love to do it, they love to go. Now if he wins the South Dakota primary, I will eat humble pie.
JIM LEHRER: Okay.
MR. GIGOT: If he comes close.
JIM LEHRER: Yeah. Before we go, Pat Brown, former governor of California, died since we last spoke. What is his legacy? How should we remember him politically?
MR. SHIELDS: Well, as a good and decent man first of all, but when Pat Brown was governor of California not only was it a time of unlimited possibilities in this country, I mean, it was 1958 to 1966, he built the water projects that made California the agricultural giant in the country, he built the public college and university system that made California the model for the rest of the country, built the freeways. It was a time of "can do." When Pat Brown was governor of California, every Monday morning was like a new city of 50,000 people, people were just streaming in--
JIM LEHRER: Coming in there.
MR. SHIELDS: Coming in. I mean, there had to be schools, there had to be roads, there had to be recreation for all of them, and it was, it was a time of unlimited growth, unlimited optimism, and California then is probably the golden, golden era of California.
JIM LEHRER: Symbolized everything in terms of the future.
MR. SHIELDS: No question about it. I mean, the home office of American optimism was in California when Pat Brown was governor.
JIM LEHRER: Yeah. Anything you want to add?
MR. GIGOT: His slogan in 1962 running against Richard Nixon was "Think big," and in a way, he represented, he was--he presided in California in the heyday of liberal government and possibility, when government was seen as an agent of progress, an agent of creating opportunity. Yet, he also in the course of that, by creating entitlements and by spending so much did create the--the environment for a backlash that Ronald Reagan capitalized on to become governor in 1996--1966--I'm sorry. And his own son, who became governor--
JIM LEHRER: Jerry Brown.
MR. GIGOT: Jerry Brown, instead of saying, think big when he was governor, said this is an era of limits.
JIM LEHRER: Yeah. Okay. And speaking of limits, we've reached ours tonight. Thank you both very much.