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National News Correspondent, Jim Malone, Discusses Election Results - 2002-11-07


MR. BORGIDA:
Now joining us for some analysis of the election, VOA National Correspondent, Jim Malone. Jim, thanks for being here. I know you had a late night last night, watching all the returns. Chris was talking about President Bush and the crisscrossing of the country that he did and the time and effort invested in helping Republican candidates. What does he get out of this in terms of political capital in Washington?

MR. MALONE:
The President put his political capital on the line. He has been very popular according to the opinion polls. He decided to risk it and try to invest that in getting Republican candidates elected. And it worked. That is not only good for immediate control of the Congress for Republicans, it helps him in his own reelection bid two years from now. The President's standing has gone sky-high right now. It was a big night for Republicans, and the President had a lot to do with it.

MR. BORGIDA:
So, tell us a little more about the President, Jim, and what he gets out of this. He obviously has been talking about foreign policy, Iraq, those kinds of issues, and the Democrats are upset that they didn't get a chance to emphasize the economy and other issues. What kind of strength does the President get out of this -- more legislation approved perhaps?

MR. MALONE:
It is a little early to say. It makes it easier for Republicans to push his agenda in Congress, but it is not a sure thing yet. The Democrats still have enough seats in the Senate, where they can slow things down and in some cases block things. As you know, David, you really need a 60-vote margin in the Senate to really ram things through. Republicans don't have that. But they do have the upper hand right now, and I think it's clear they're going to use it. And they are going to use it with the two years remaining to go in Mr. Bush's term to try to help him win reelection in 2004.

MR. BORGIDA:
So, we have talked briefly about the President and the Republicans obviously doing very well. What about the flipside, the Democrats?

MR. MALONE:
"Nightmare on Elm Street" is the short answer there, I'm afraid. You heard the wind from Chris Simkins up on the roof there. That was the wind of change blowing across the capital. The Democrats are wise to this now. Tom Daschle, the Democratic Senate Leader, said today he realized now that President Bush set the issue agenda for this election -- Iraq, the war on terrorism -- foreign policy really trumped the economy. Even with a weakened U.S. economy, that is really unheard of in midterm election campaigns. So, the Democrats have to figure out who their leaders are going to be and what they stand for. Because they had a real problem, especially on that debate over Iraq. They have sort of a split party, and they need to figure out now where they want to go.

MR. BORGIDA:
One more follow-up on Democrats. Who is out there, Jim, in your view, that is a good representative, a telegenic representative, for the Democrats at this point, two years away from the elections?

MR. MALONE:
They need a fresh face. Some people have talked about Senator John Edwards from North Carolina, a Bill Clinton-type character. It is not clear he is going to make a run for President. Some people, the real diehard liberals, would like to see another Clinton make the run. Remember Hillary Clinton, she is a Senator, and a lot of people are going to talk her up now as well.

MR. BORGIDA:
VOA's National Correspondent Jim Malone, on the elections in the last day or so. Thanks, Jim, for joining us. We appreciate it.

MR. MALONE:
My pleasure. (End of interview.)

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