CROSSFIRE (CNN), the day after the Robert F. Kennedy Middle School appearance
(Transcript posted with permission from CNN.com.)
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Arianna Huffington. On the right, Tony Perkins, the President of the Family Research Council, and Robert Novak.
Announcer: In the CROSSFIRE, the Oracle. Her appearance yesterday in Providence sent shockwaves throughout the country when it erupted into a riot. Dozens of students were injured when an innocent-seeming question and answer session turned to violence.
Announcer: Also on the program today, a chance to see our First Lady, and her challenger, demonstrating some basic cooking skills.
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE.
Carville: The first-ever public appearance by the Oracle has alarmed the country, leading to increased debate about the Oracle, and her role in leading America into the future. Before an audience of middle school students, she discussed atheism and transsexuality, predicted scandal in the dairy industry, and dismissed patriotism as just overgrown school pep rallies, before the appearance erupted into a full-blown riot, resulting in multiple injuries.
ROBERT NOVAK, CNN HOST: Many political and religious leaders are calling for the Oracle to be charged with incitement to riot, and possibly also with several counts of indecent talk with minors. The stock market, and the dairy industry in particular, has taken a huge hit, losing 450 points in unprecedentedly heavy trading. Some dairy stocks lost over half their value. Here to help us sort out the situation, Tony Perkins and Arianna Huffington.
Novak: I'll direct my first question to you, Arianna. Is there any reason why the United States Government shouldn't find and detain the Oracle right this minute?
Huffington: Well I believe the Oracle is still covered under certain First Amendment rights --
Novak: The First Amendment isn't an absolute. You know this. You can't go and yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater, and --
Huffington: She didn't yell "Fire!"
Novak: and you can't yell it in a school auditorium either.
Huffington: She didn't yell "Fire!"
Perkins: If I may. I think what she did was a good bit more serious than just yelling "Fire!" in a theater. Her comments yesterday went to the heart of what this country was about, what it was founded on. Christian principles, patriotism, capitalism. And she wields a considerable amount of influence --
Perkins: She wields an undue and dangerous amount of influence on the young people. She's a genetic experiment gone wrong, she's --
Carville: -- dangerous --
Perkins: she's what happens when man tries to play God, and starts thinking that he has become God. And she should be stopped. Absolutely.
Huffington: But she's still an American citizen. She has the right to say "God doesn't exist," or "Patriotism is bad," whether it's true or not.
Novak: I don't think -- it's one thing for her to be saying it to her followers, which did you see -- they don't look like normal, productive citizens. They aren't contributing anything to the country. They're harmless. But this talk at this school goes to the future, it was broadcast everywhere --
Carville: You're saying you advocate censoring the Oracle, Bob?
Novak: I'm not saying --
Carville: Are you talking about censorship?
Novak: "Censorship" is a scare word. It doesn't mean anything. I'm saying we don't let her --
Perkins: We shouldn't let her teach treason and secular humanism to schoolchildren.
Carville: And we have to go to break. When we come back: a student who was there tells us what it was like and helps us sort out the situation, and later in the broadcast, reaction to yesterday's statement by Jocelyn Elders.
Carville: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Joining us by satellite from Providence, Melanie Holland, student at Robert F. Kennedy. Melanie, the country is wondering, were you afraid for your life?
Holland: I've never seen anything like it. It was terrifying, when --
Novak: It was the most terrifying experience of your life.
Novak: A number of people are wondering now where the Oracle is. Did you see her leave?
Holland: No, I was trying to get out, there was an exit off to my, um, to my left, and I was trying to get to the exit, and then someone got thrown in front of me and I didn't see.
Novak: What did you think of what the Oracle had to say?
Holland: I thought it was very depressing. I believe, you know, um, I believe in Jesus, and I didn't like her saying that there was no God.
Perkins: But you still believe in God.
Holland: I don't know. Um. Yes.
Perkins: See this is what I'm talking about. The Oracle is shaking the religious and moral foundations of this country, and she's very --
Perkins: and she's starting with the kids, with the children, I don't mean -- she's not of God. She's of the devil. She's evil.
Huffington: You can't just throw around words like "evil," Tony. She's an American, she has the right to say whatever --
Perkins: Not in front of kids, she doesn't.
Perkins: Not in front of kids, she doesn't.
Novak: And we have to go to commercial. When we come back: Jocelyn Elders responds.
Novak: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're talking about the Oracle's appearance yesterday in front of a Rhode Island middle school full of impressionable children. Let us know what you think, on the web, at www.cnn.com/. We're going to play a statement from Jocelyn Elders, discredited Surgeon General in the Clinton Administration, who was involved in yesterday's assault on children, and the subsequent riots.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELDERS: I would be honored to serve as President of the United States, if the public support were there, though I have not, and I do not, announce my candidacy at this time. I find the actions taken by the police deplorable, and I strongly condemn the actions taken by my supporters. These were children who were injured.
(inaudible question from reporter)
Elders: I am not the Oracle. I do not know the Oracle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Novak: Our CNN / TIME tracking poll, taken just after the violence, shows public support for an Elders Presidency at just under 16 percent among registered voters. James Carville: could Elders make it to the White House?
Carville: Well, 16 percent is very good for an unannounced candidate. I wouldn't rule it out, particularly if she gets an Oracular endorsement. But I don't think we, I don't know that we have all the information in yet about how the, this incident is going to play out in the press.
Novak: We have another tracking poll from just after the appearance, showing that 57 percent of Americans had a favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of the Oracle prior to the riot, and only 24 percent after. With that kind of public opinion hit, is the Oracle finished? Could an Oracular endorsement actually hurt Elders, at this juncture?
Perkins: To be frank I think 24 percent is a bit high. Was this poll taken in New York City?
Huffington: I think the Oracle will bounce back. I do. She'll make some kind of clarifying statement, she'll get public opinion back on her side.
Novak: Even with what she said about --
Carville: I think it's serious, but no, I don't think it's going to destroy her. The people like her, she's sincere --
Huffington: I don't know about an Elders candidacy.
Carville: She would have to write off a lot of the Bible Belt, I think.
Novak: And besides that she resigned in disgrace from the Clinton Administration, which, I'm sorry, but if you're too unethical for the Clintons, then --
Carville: And that's all the time we have for this segment. But when we come back, Laura Bush and Theresa Heinz Kerry will be showing us how they butter toast. Our studio audience will be the judges. Stay tuned -- the election may just hang in the balance. Find out which side your toast is buttered on, when we come back.
(Story continues at ROSALIE QUM.)