During the 11:00 a.m. hour of MSNBC’s News Live, host Tamron Hall discussed possible developments late in a presidential campaign such as an October surprise or a terrorist attack. After Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus claimed that Bush would be remembered for his leadership after 9/11, her Democratic counterpart Keith Boykin tried to insist that Bush was to blame:
You know, I disagree with what Cheri said too about 9/11. 9/11 was a failure for George Bush. He was asleep at the switch on 9/11. He had a memo, he had a memo a month before.
Jacobus, expressing shock, chimed in:
Comments blaming 9/11 on George Bush are over the top and nobody should allow that to go unchallenged.
Unfortunately, Tamron Hall let Boykins’s comments pass right by and ended the segment complaining that she couldn’t get a straight answer for the viewers at home.
The Smoking Gun Web site had this to say about the document Boykin referred to:
While Bush critics have described the August 6 PDB as a warning of an impending al-Qaeda attack, Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security adviser, testified Thursday that the document contained "historical information based on old reporting. There was no new threat information."
When you read the memo, that’s essentially true, there’s no specific information about the cities under threat or any indication airliners would be used to strike ground targets as happened on 9/11. What’s more, the memo noted bin Laden’s “attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks.”
You can read the document yourself here, and decide for yourself.
The transcript of the exchange follows:
TAMRON HALL, host: And MSNBC of course is the place for politics so back to that. Will there be an October surprise? A last minute event or campaign move that could turn the tide of the November election. John McCain’s chief strategist Charlie Black drew fire for saying another attack on U.S. soil would be a big advantage for John McCain. On Sunday, McCain supporter Joe Lieberman argued that McCain would be best prepared in case of a terror attack in 2009.
SENATOR JOE LIEBERMAN: Our enemies will test the new president early. Remember that the truck bombing of the World Trade Center happened in the first year of the Clinton administration. 9/11 happened in the first year of the Bush administration.
HALL: Cheri Jacobus is a Republican strategist. Keith Boykin is a Democratic strategist. Keith, the White House spokesperson Dana Perino said she agreed with Senator Lieberman’s comments. Is this a part of so-called October surprise or what some people call the politics of fear?
KEITH BOYKIN: Yeah, I think it is. It’s part of the fear campaign that the Republicans typically use. Every four years they try the same tactic. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t think it’s gonna work this time because the American people are fed up with the Iraq war, they’re fed up with the Bush administration and they’re fed up with the inconsistencies, Tamron. You know you can’t say on the one hand “we’ve kept you safe for seven years so you have to vote for us” and then suddenly, if there’s a terrorist attack “you have to vote for us because we didn’t keep you safe.” It doesn’t make any sense. It’s illogical on its face and the American people have seen through this for the past seven years and they’re ready for a change.
HALL: Cheri, what do the Republicans do? I mean, they wanna bring up the issue of national security, it’s certainly something, the most important thing you’re hearing with the economy tied there. We all want to stay safe. How do the Republicans avoid being labeled as fear-mongers and stay on track to hammering home to those security moms or security people who wanna stay safe in this country?
JACOBUS: Well, Republicans aren’t fear-mongering and they’re not the ones that want to bring this up every four years. After the 2004 election John Kerry admitted that he felt one reason he lost the election to George Bush, to President Bush, was because of the Osama Bin Laden tape that came out right before the election. So that’s not Republicans, it’s actually our enemies that want to kill us. I think the Democrats risk looking a little bit naïve and therefore really hurt themselves if they claim that these are just fear tactics. We have been attacked. The Bush administration has kept us safe and that will go down in history over time as one of the great legacies of the Bush campaign. As such, keeping us safe, keeping us safe is just something that has helped, has been stronger with Republicans. John McCain has the experience, has been actively involved, has been, played a big role in making sure we had this surge that is successful so it’s a matter of credibility and by John Kerry’s own admission Republicans have the advantage on this issue. Democrats can look naïve if they do, like what Keith just did, sit there and laugh about because I don’t think it’s a laughing matter.
HALL: Hang on, Cheri. Keith, let me ask you, do Democrats have to come up with a better answer than “hey, they’re fear-mongering”? I mean, we’re talking about an issue that can likely happen, this October surprise, and Americans do want someone who is ready on day one. Do the Democrats need to respond to this rather than saying this is all about fear-mongering?
KEITH BOYKIN: No, I actually don’t think that the Democrats have to say it’s fear-mongering or not because the American people know its fear-mongering. We can see right through it. That’s what happened in 2006 when the Republicans got thrown out of Congress because the Democrats were offering an alternative to the failed policies of the Bush administration. You know, I disagree with what Cheri said too about 9/11. 9/11 was a failure for George Bush. He was asleep at the switch on 9/11. He had a memo, he had a memo a month before-
JACOBUS: Oh my gosh. Oh, Keith, I hope, I hope that the Obama campaign, I hope you guys say that over and over again because that will be, that will certainly cost your candidate.
BOYKIN: Let me finish my comment, are you gonna just talk over me again, Cheri. Let me just finish, let me just finish my comment, Cheri. Cheri, I hope you learn to engage in a little bit of respect when you talk to people. I mean 9/11. President Bush-
JACOBUS: Keith, I’m sorry but your comments are so over the top to blame 9/11 on George W. Bush.
BOYKIN: Let me talk, Cheri-
JACOBUS: No, Keith, because your comments blaming 9/11 on George Bush are over the top and nobody should allow that to go unchallenged.
HALL: Okay, I’m going to have to interrupt both of you because I would love to get a straight answer and something that the folks can hear at home but because of that, I’m out of time.
BOYKIN: Thanks, Cheri.
HALL: So we’ll have to talk about. Thank you, Cheri. Thank you, Keith.
JACOBUS: Thank you.
HALL: And I’m sorry I had to interrupt both of you. We gotta move on.