Sunday, June 04, 2006

Bobby Kennedy Jr. On CNN

Bobby Kennedy Jr. appeared on CNN's The Situation to talk about his article in Rolling Stone. Following is the transcript from that show:

BLITZER (voice-over): Robert Kennedy Jr. charges that a concerted effort was made by high-level Republicans to steal the presidential vote in Ohio. It's new fuel in an already combustible partisan environment, with Republicans on the defensive, and Democrats hoping to reclaim control of Congress this fall.

In a lengthy article in the new edition of "Rolling Stone", Kennedy accuses Republicans of preventing more than 350,000 voters, most of them Democrats, from casting ballots or having their votes counted.

President Bush won Ohio by a little more than 100,000 votes over Senator John Kerry, putting him over the top in electoral votes and sealing his reelection. Kennedy accuses Republicans of getting that margin of victory by, among other things, purging tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, creating long lines to keep Democrats from voting, and rigging the Ohio recount.

To back up his charges, Kennedy cites the early exit polls showing Kerry was winning Ohio. Kennedy contends exit polls are an exact science and, essentially, never wrong. But even pollsters dispute that.

Kennedy lays much of the blame on Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who is now running for governor. Blackwell refused to respond to Kennedy's allegations, and he declined our offer to be interviewed. He's previously denied similar allegations, saying election glitches shouldn't cause the outcome to be questioned.

And there's a noteworthy skeptic about allegations that the Ohio vote was stolen. Senator John Kerry has cited irregularities in the Ohio vote, but he says if he had firm evidence the election was rigged or stolen, he would have taken legal action.


BLITZER: And a Democratic National Committee study of the Ohio vote found significant problems but concluded they did not -- repeat not -- constitute fraud.

Joining us now from New York to talk about these allegations is the author of the article, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and here in Washington is Terry Holt. He was the press secretary for the 2004 Bush/Cheney campaign.

Thanks to both of you for joining us.

Why are you reviving these allegations, Robert Kennedy, right now, given the fact that they've been so thoroughly reviewed over the past 2 1/2 years and people have concluded that there's no hard evidence of fraud?

ROBERT F. KENNEDY, "ROLLING STONE" CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, there hasn't been that conclusion.

Second of all, there's a lot of new evidence. There's the analysis that was done, not just of the 350,000 votes -- Democratic voters -- mainly Democratic voters that were denied the opportunity to vote, or whose votes weren't counted. But also the 80,000 votes from 12 rural counties in Ohio that were shifted from John Kerry to George Bush, which by themselves would have given Kerry the margin of victory in Ohio.

Plus, there's six other counties where there are high indications of ballot box, that thousands of people lost their votes.

BLITZER: Let me interrupt for a second. I read your long piece in "Rolling Stone". It was very, very long and detailed. I didn't see one individual, though, who says, "You know what? I participated in a massive conspiracy of fraud."

I didn't see any hard evidence that there was someone, and if you're going to talk about a massive fraud, you have to have somebody, presumably, that's going to come forward and say, "You know what? I was involved in this campaign."

KENNEDY: Well, that's not true, Wolf. The people from -- the executives from the Triad Company, which is the vendor for one of the -- for the big voting machine that tabulated more than half the votes in Ohio, has admitted that they fixed the recount. And that they fixed it with county boards of elections in half a dozen counties, at least.

Every single county where Triad -- and you know, there's an example of a -- of a high-level official who participated in a massive fraud, that prevented the recount that would have given Kerry the victory in Ohio.

BLITZER: Let me let Terry Holt respond to that -- Terry.

TERRY HOLT, FORMER BUSH/CHENEY PRESS SECRETARY: Well, first, let's establish, Wolf, that an exhaustive bipartisan study of all 88 counties in Ohio was conducted after the election. And Republicans and Democrats in Ohio, those people most directly affected by this controversy, have agreed that there was no significant or even insignificant fraud that occurred in the election.

I think that, in fact, I'm going to stand Mr. Kennedy's story on its head a little bit. Because I think what was engaged in the last election, a massive effort to flood the polls with new voter registrations, with new absentee ballots, with new ballots of the provisional variety that.

The Democratic Party was such a sour and poisonous taste in its mouth after the Florida election really engaged in an extensive effort to really flood the ballot box, to stuff the ballot box. And so all over the country, not just in Ohio, but in Las Vegas, and in Miami, and other states, there were new voter registrations coming in with the names like Freddy Krueger. Michael Jordan and George Foreman were registered to vote in Ohio.

BLITZER: All right -- let's let Robert Kennedy -- What Terry Holt is saying is just the opposite of what you're saying, is that the Democrats were participating in some phony business in Ohio and other states.

KENNEDY: Well, that's a strong -- and the people that the Republican Party -- I want to say this. This should not be a partisan issue, Wolf. This should be -- people should be outraged about this.

Read the facts in my article. There has been no bipartisan commission, but -- including Democrats that have said there was no hanky-panky or shenanigans in Ohio. That's simply wrong to say that.

There's been complaints. There's been a congressional committee that's been out in Ohio and found massive -- found massive evidence of fraud. The fraud is not something that's been secret. It's been -- it's been exposed to the press for the long time.

There's two issues here. No. 1, why hasn't the national press covered this event? There's no -- there is no legitimate dispute. That there was a massive concerted deliberate effort by high level Republican Party officials to fix the election in Ohio. And the press has not covered this issue.

BLITZER: All right. I'm going -- I'm going to let --

KENNEDY: All my article does...

BLITZER: Hold on. We did cover John Conyers, Congressman John Conyers' report on this. Christopher Hitchens article in "Vanity Fair". All that was covered.

Senator John Kerry himself says in your article in "Rolling Stone", he says this: "Can I tell you to a certainty that it made the difference in the election? I can't. There's no way for me to do that. If I could have done that, then obviously I would have found some legal recourse."

And the Democratic Party has been relatively silent on this issue, as well, Robert Kennedy.

KENNEDY: Well, you know what, Wolf? You're right about that. And I think that's a big problem, that the Democrats backed down too easy on this.

John Kerry has said to me that at the -- at -- during the time -- during the narrow window of time when he had an opportunity to protest this election, he didn't do it, because his attorneys told him that at that point, they didn't have the facts that they needed to make the case.

John has looked at the facts that I produced in this article and particularly the issue about the 12 counties, rural counties where the votes were shifted from Kerry, where 80,000 votes were shifted from Kerry to Bush, and said that his opinion has changed as a result of that.

BLITZER: All right. Terry -- let me let Terry Holt weigh in, as well. Go ahead and respond.

HOLT: Well, I would just say that there was a very smart observation that was made in the very beginning of the article. And that is that American elections are a messy patchwork, county by county, state by state rules and regulations.

And as an example in Florida, in the 2000 election, 66 out of 67 counties in Florida were controlled by the Democratic Party and it resulted in a messy recount, 37 days.

And so our votes are involved in a complex process. But by flooding the ballot box with new invalid registrations, if any political entity is diluting the value of the -- of the honest vote that takes place. And so, our -- our system needs to protect the legal votes from the illegal votes so that those votes count real and like they should.

BLITZER: We have to leave it there. "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" That's the provocative title of the article. You can read it in "Rolling Stone". Robert Kennedy, Terry Holt, thanks very much for coming in.
Apparently Kennedy was also on Tucker Carlson's show, but I'd only watch that show if Jon Stewart was a guest. I'd love to see Stewart smack Carlson down again.