A look at the 2004 presidential field
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The 2004 presidential election is starting to take shape. Who is emerging as the Democratic front-runner? Can anyone beat President Bush?
Democratic strategist Bob Shrum and Republican strategist Ed Gillespie joined "Crossfire" hosts James Carville and Tucker Carlson on Tuesday to go head-to-head on it all.
CARLSON: One of the leading candidates among the Democrats in 2004 is John Edwards. Smart guy, decent guy, articulate guy, doesn't have the resume in the current environment in politics, but four years [ago] he was a personal-injury lawyer specializing in Jacuzzi cases. That's not going to cut it in this environment, is it?
SHRUM: Well, first of all, he never did a case like that. And if you, by Jacuzzi, mean a young woman who had her insides sucked out by a defective pool drain, who has to for the rest of her life receive 24-hour-a-day care, and that he took that case and won that case, if that's what you're referring to, I think people in this country would like that.
CARLSON: And so you're saying -- just to make sure I understand you -- that that is the resume that he's going to run on for commander in chief in 2004?
SHRUM: No, of course not. No, I just have to correct the outrageous misstatement that you just made.
First of all, he hasn't decided whether he's running or not, number one. Number two ... he didn't do class-action cases. He defended very, very powerless people against very powerful interests for 20 years.
CARLSON: And made millions.
SHRUM: It is a lot better qualification than somebody handing you a baseball team for almost no money -- called the Texas Rangers -- and then your name is George W. Bush, and you get rich.
CARVILLE: Let me ask you something -- it is kind of funny. What foreign policy experience did George W. Bush possess in the year 2000 that John Edwards doesn't? Give us his extensive foreign policy credentials coming in other than getting a drunken driving ticket?
GILLESPIE: The fact is that the governor had executive experience coming in ...
CARVILLE: John Edwards has Washington experience ... I want the two of you to tell me what foreign policy experience that George W. Bush had going into 2000 that John Edwards doesn't?
CARLSON: Was he a personal-injury lawyer -- no, that was John Edwards. Sorry.
CARVILLE: You know what he was? He was an insider trader. And I'd rather be a personal-injury lawyer than an insider trader.
GILLESPIE: You know what he was? He was an effective governor of a very big state. And he's a very effective president of a very big state and a very big country.
CARLSON: Now hold on.
CARVILLE: What experience did he have, Tucker, that John Edwards didn't? You've attacked John Edwards viciously. Tell us what he had.
SHRUM: You took what was a really terrible tragedy, in which he did exactly the right thing, and tried to turn it into a joke. You ought to be spanked for that.
CARVILLE: They don't believe that babies sucked into swimming pools ought to have lawyers. That's the difference.
CARLSON: James, lighten up. Lighten up. You can defend the trial lawyers all you want. Here's my question: Al Gore dropping out of the race helps, above all, the Rev. Al Sharpton, doesn't it? I don't [necessarily] think he's going to win the nomination, though he should. But the person who does is going to have to get his blessing. Isn't that true?
SHRUM: I think Democratic primary voters are going to decide who wins the nomination. I don't think anybody's going to have to get anybody's blessing. And as Bill Clinton demonstrated in 1992, you can stand up against almost anybody in the party if you've got the support in the party, and I think we will have a very strong candidate, and you guys will have a very weak economy, and you're going to be in trouble again in '04.
CARVILLE: You're a bright strategist. Let's try to just be a strategist. Gore dropping out -- who do you think in a Democratic field is helped?
GILLESPIE: You know, I think it just tips the table over, James. And I think the party needs the table tipped over. The Democratic [Party] now has an opportunity to recast itself ... George W. Bush recast the Republican Party in a very positive manner. Somebody's going to come along and recast the Democratic Party and put [his or her] stamp on it. I don't know who it is right now.
CARVILLE: All right, you heard it right here.
CARLSON: It's Al Sharpton.