John Hawkins: Hillary Clinton, who looks likely to be the Democrats’ candidate in 2008, is staking out a strong anti-illegal immigration position. Do you think that could be a potent issue for her, especially if the GOP runs a candidate like John McCain who’s soft on illegal immigration?
Dick Morris: I think it is a risky position since she needs to regain the Hispanic vote that Kerry lost. Gore carried Hispanics by 30 pts but Kerry won them by only 10. That change accounts for half of Bush’s gain over 2000. But Hillary wants to move to the center and she is using this issue to do so.
John Hawkins: Barring some sort of unforeseen disaster, do you think there are any Democrats who could beat Hillary in the 2008 primary?
Dick Morris: No, none.
John Hawkins: The two top GOP candidates for 2008 right now look to be John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani’s messy divorce and positions on abortion, gay marriage and gun control are likely to make him unpopular among social conservatives and there are a large number of conservatives who seem to absolutely detest McCain. If Giuliani or McCain managed to take the nomination, do you think either one of them can truly unite the base and would the GOP be in a lot of trouble if the candidate is unable to do so?
Dick Morris: I don’t think Rudy can win the nomination because of his social liberalism and I think McCain has shown that he can’t win Republican primary votes (all the votes he got in 2000 were independents who voted in the Repub primary).
I also do not think that any of the other candidates — Allen, Frist, Pataki, etc, can beat Hillary because of her lock on the black, Hispanic and women vote. So I am pushing for Condi Rice for President. As a social conservative, she can get the primary vote and can fight Hillary’s demographic base.
John Hawkins: Do you think it’ll be tough for a moderate Republican to get the nomination in 2008 given that the attitude of a lot of Republicans right now seems to be, “Why should we move to the left when we’re winning?”
Dick Morris: Yes. But Condi, who is not a moderate, can.
John Hawkins: You’ve touted Condi Rice as the GOP counter to Hillary in 2008. Are you concerned that Condi has never won political office? Also, how big do you think the “She’s never been married” factor would be for Condi?
Dick Morris: I don’t think the marriage issue will be big since she conducts herself with dignity and mainstream values. Being National Security Advisor and Secretary Of State during a war and having been Chancellor of Stanford are good enough qualifications without having served in office. As a non politician, she would do very well.
John Hawkins: It’s hard to argue that campaign finance reform was anything other than a miserable failure in 2004. In your mind, what should be done to fix the system?
Dick Morris: Nothing. The Dean campaign demonstrated that it is easier, cheaper and faster to raise money online, which is clean money, than it is to take dirty money from PACs or fat cats. The fact that Bush ran just as well (+2.7% over 2000) in swing states as in the rest of the nation (+2.9% over 2000) demonstrates that money is losing its centrality in our politics. As the internet overtakes television as the key place for communication, money will diminish in importance. See my book VOTE.com.
John Hawkins: The Democrats absolutely killed the GOP in raising soft money during the 2004 election cycle. What does the GOP need to do to close the gap?
Dick Morris: See above on the lack of importance of money lately.
John Hawkins: Look at the campaign the Kerry people ran and give it a letter grade, A – F, and then give us an explanation of why they deserved it.
Dick Morris: Very bad. They played checkers while Bush played chess.
John Hawkins: Now you helped make “Fahrenhype 9/11,” a movie that debunks Michael Moore’s propaganda piece “Fahrenheit 9/11″ so you’re very familiar with Michael Moore. Now, because of the movie, he is probably the most prominent liberal in America and he has been embraced by the Democratic Party. He famously sat next to Jimmy Carter at the convention, more than a few members of Congress attended his movie premier, Terry MacAuliffe endorsed his movie…but, is Moore more of a help or hindrance to the Democratic Party?
Dick Morris: (He’s a) hindrance because he makes the ultra left fashionable and they can never win an election.
John Hawkins: If someone said to you, “Dick Morris, in a nutshell, tell us what the Democrats need to do to take the White House and the Senate back,” what would you tell him?
Dick Morris: Move to the center as Clinton did.
John Hawkins: If someone said to you, “Dick Morris, the GOP is obviously having a lot of success right now, so in a nutshell, can you tell us what the GOP needs to do to stay on top,” what would you tell him?
Dick Morris: Nominate Rice. Otherwise Hillary will win.
John Hawkins: Bill Clinton obviously gained a lot by triangulating. However, I’m not sure the same can be said for George Bush. Not only did he catch tremendous grief from the base because of a lot of things he said, the political benefits of the steel tariffs, his soft stand on illegal immigration, the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, No Child Left Behind, increasing funding for the NEA, etc, etc, seemed to be very limited. Do you agree or disagree?
Dick Morris: He gained enormously from these issues. See above for his Hispanic gain. Prescription drugs would have been a killing issue for him had he not passed the bill. Education reform permitted him to win voters 23-35 and lose by only 10 pts among those under 25.
John Hawkins: Given the number of immigrants we have coming into the US every year and that a large percentage of them vote against the GOP, would it help the GOP politically to work to dramatically cut back the number of people allowed to become US citizens each year?
Dick Morris: No, because it would fail and they would be seen as anti-Hispanic. But, we should restrict immigration from terror sponsoring nations and, as this immigration is largely through VISA issuance, it is easy to do.