Advanced Search
Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD)
Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD)
Like No Other Time
ISBN: 1400049555
Like No Other Time
—from the publisher's website

Tom Daschle, the Majority Leader of the historic 107th Senate, presents a candid insider’s account of the workings of the U.S. government during two of the most tumultuous years in the nation’s history.

The 107th Congress faced a time like no other in the life of the nation. This was the era of the first presidential election to be decided by the United States Supreme Court, the fifty-fifty Senate, the horror of September 11, the anthrax attacks on media and the government (including Daschle’s own office), the war on terrorism, corporate scandals that shook the economy, the inexorable move toward war with Iraq, and other dramatic events, all leading up to the historic midterm elections of 2002.

Through it all, Senator Tom Daschle had, with the exception of the President, the most privileged view of these unfolding developments, both in front of and behind the closed doors of government. In Like No Other Time, Daschle offers a riveting account of his singular perspective on a time when the nation faced deadly and elusive external enemies and a level of domestic political contention rarely seen in American history. Senator Daschle is un-flinching in his impressions of the key political figures of our time from both parties. The result is an acutely perceptive assessment of how our government met—and sometimes did not meet—the challenges of a remarkable era.

As it was during the years of the 107th Congress, the United States is once again at a critical and historic crossroads. Our choices, based on what we have learned from our recent past, will affect our future in profound ways. For Senator Daschle, the first and perhaps most important choice lies with what kind of representation and leadership we want in government. It is a choice between a political party with a core philosophical belief in the power of our collective will to confront these challenges through our government, and one dominated by a group of people who don’t like and don’t believe in government.

Like No Other Time
Program Air Date: November 30, 2003

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Senator Tom Daschle, where did you get the idea for the title for your book, "Like No Other Time"?
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), AUTHOR, "LIKE NO OTHER TIME": I was running one day, Brian, and I thought about all the things that had been happening right during the time, contemporaneously to that particular time. And it occurred to me -- I was giving a speech, actually, shortly after I had that run. And I made the comment, You know, this is really like no other time I can think of in all of my public life. And that stuck with me. And as I started to kick it around in my own mind, the thought -- You know what? It really is not only a pretty apt description of these circumstances, but it might make a pretty good title for a book.
LAMB: And what`s that time? What time period was it?
DASCHLE: Well, it was a time period that I think has seen an acceleration of history. Oftentimes, as we`ve noticed throughout history, times accelerate from time to time, when things happen much more quickly, much more consequentially, in a much more condensed period of time. It usually happens during or after a war. We saw it during and after the Civil War, during and after World War I, during and after World War II. I think the first two years of the century had the same implication -- so many things happening so quickly.
LAMB: Go back to the thing about running. How much of it do you do, and why do you do it?
DASCHLE: Oh, I do it for a lot of reasons, to clear my head. I do it every morning. I get up early. I usually get up around 5:00 o`clock in the morning, have my coffee, read the papers and then take my run. I do it about four to five times a week, and run four miles, listen to books as I run. And so I`ve been doing it for about 20 years.
LAMB: What book are you listening to right now?
DASCHLE: Right now, I`m listening to a wonderful story of Krakatoa, the volcano, and a great book and just about finished.
LAMB: Any idea how many books you`ve listened to over the years?
DASCHLE: I listen to 40 a year. So I listen -- I guess I`ve probably listened over -- oh, I`ve been doing it now for 15 years or so, at least, so maybe 600 books.
LAMB: Can you think of a book that has changed the way you do anything?
DASCHLE: Oh, I think, in their own ways, absolutely. I love non-fiction, especially, which is why I love the opportunity to listen to your program so frequently. But I -- from time to time, a good fictional author appeals to me a good deal. I`m a big Harlan Coben fan. Listen, I`ve read all of his books -- but I think that books about history, in particular, give me a far greater admiration and respect for that incredible institution within which I work every day. And that, I think, has had a profound effect on my life and how I do things.
DASCHLE: Let me guess you listened to the Robert Caro book...
DASCHLE: Oh, absolutely.
LAMB: ..."Master of the Senate." And what did that teach you about the Senate you didn`t know?
DASCHLE: You know what? I listened to the book, and I liked it so much, I went back and read it. And I think the first few hundred pages, which talks in such wonderful detail about the extraordinary years of creation of the institution itself, the traditions, the practices, the stories of individual senators and the heroic acts, in some cases, the leadership, the lack of leadership -- all of that had a profound effect on me.

I sit at Lyndon Johnson`s desk on the Senate floor, and as you know, because you`re such an avid student of this, you pull open the bottom drawer and you find carved in that drawer the names of every person who`s sat at that desk. I pull open my drawer, and there in big letters writ large are LBJ and Joe Robinson and Ernest McFarland and Scott Lucas and George Mitchell, and of course, Robert C. Byrd.
LAMB: Do you go back and do any historical look-see at some of those names that are on that desk?
DASCHLE: Oh, absolutely. In fact, I actually have thought about another book that I would love to do. I`m not sure anybody would be as interested in it -- in reading it as I would writing it, but I`d love to tell the history of our country from the perspective of each one of those people who has sat at that desk, telling it, in a sense, in the first person, but going back through the Congressional Record and their biographical data and really putting together, chapter by chapter, Lyndon Johnson and Ernest McFarland and Scott Lucas and Joe Robinson and all of those, and tell the story of the country from the perspective of somebody who has had my job, as I`ve had it for the last 10 years.
LAMB: You say in your book that when you walk into the Senate, you have the same feeling that you have when you walk into your church, the Catholic church. Explain that.
DASCHLE: Well, there`s an awe. There`s an overwhelming sense of inspiration. When I walk into a church, it`s a sacred temple, and there`s a hush that comes oftentimes as you feel this sacredness envelop you. Well, it isn`t sacred, but there is still this awesome sense of history and respect and inspirational belief in what it is that that chamber represents.

And it`s -- I can`t explain it. I actually have found myself sometimes just crossing the aisle or crossing the hallway into the chamber and sit at my desk and look around. I look at the ceiling and the chamber, empty, and the galleries that sometimes are filled with people. And I look up at the dais and imagine those hours that I sat up there and sit at my desk and think of the incredible history that -- if that piece of furniture could speak, what it would say about those who have sat there before me.
LAMB: Where did it all start for you in your life? Where were you born?
DASCHLE: I was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota, 1947, went to Catholic school for nine years. We didn`t have a Catholic high school at that time, and went to public high school, graduated, went on to college, South Dakota State University, first kid in my family to do so. I went to South Dakota State for a couple of reasons. They had a great political science department, but they also had Air Force ROTC, and I was thinking seriously about making a career of the Air Force, went through Air Force ROTC and got into the Air Force, spent three years there as an intelligence officer and went on to politics.
LAMB: You compare the similarities between you and Trent Lott. And to start with, you both were aides to members of the Senate.
DASCHLE: That`s right.
LAMB: How did you get to be Jim Abourezk`s aide? And who was he?
DASCHLE: Jim Abourezk is a wonderful man. He served for one term in the House and one term in the Senate. He doesn`t shy away from controversy. He`s very outspoken, very -- very -- I would say articulate, in so many ways, as he expresses himself. But he was -- he had run for attorney general when I was in college, and I got to know him then. I was in the Air Force. He was running for Congress at the time. He got elected. Then he ran for -- he was running for the Senate. I was just getting out of the Air Force. He asked if I would come to work for him in his campaign. I did. He got elected. And then he asked to come to Washington, asked me if I`d come with him, and I did and became an aide for about three-and-a-half years.
LAMB: What did you do?
DASCHLE: I worked on foreign policy and defense for him, did a lot of -- and veterans affairs. That`s where I really first became actively engaged in veterans` issues.
LAMB: Did you know Trent Lott at the time?
DASCHLE: I didn`t. No. I wished I had.
LAMB: He worked for -- it wasn`t Senator Eastland, was it? It was...
DASCHLE: No, it was...
LAMB: Colmer.
DASCHLE: That`s right.
LAMB: William Colmer. Who was a Democrat.
DASCHLE: That`s right.
LAMB: But you two -- I mean, what kind of a friendship do you have today?
DASCHLE: We have a good friendship. In fact, I sent him a copy of my book with an inscription that he was a worthy partner during all of this and somebody I respected, and I thought he would enjoy the pages as I wrote about his involvement, in particular.
LAMB: Why do you two think so differently on so many issues? And how do you get along under the circumstances?
DASCHLE: Well, you know, that`s one of the secrets of the Senate, I think, Brian. Everybody comes to me to say, Why don`t you guys get along? How come there`s so much confrontation? And oftentimes, there is. We`ve been through a lot of confrontation this last year.

But below that, what the televisions -- except for C-SPAN, oftentimes because you`re there in committee meetings and on the floor all the time, you capture it all. But it doesn`t make news when we agree. You know, what makes news is when we disagree and when we have our big fights. But there`s so much that gets done that doesn`t make news that I think oftentimes, people have the wrong impression.

I don`t mind a good fight. I look forward -- I relish fighting when I have to, when I think it`s so critical for the country, and standing up for the things I believe. But I also relish the fact that Republicans and Democrats can work together, and we try to depict that in the book in as many ways as we can -- you know, getting through 9/11 and all those things, working together. And I`ve worked now with three leaders, Trent Lott, Bob Dole and now Bill Frist. And we`ve had a -- I would call it a good working relationship, in spite of our differences, with each one.
LAMB: But tell the story about when you and Trent Lott were, you know, on opposite sides of the aisle, but he made those comments about Strom Thurmond at the birthday party. And you have a private conversation and then changed your mind about what you wanted to say publicly. What was that about?
DASCHLE: Well, he -- now I think a lot of people know of the story. He made some comments about how he wishes Strom Thurmond had had the opportunity to serve as president. The country would have been better off. It -- the reaction was very negative, almost immediately. I think it was late in the week when he made that statement, and it was, I think, a Monday I had come back to work. I had been aware of it, not been asked to comment on it.

I got a call just as I was rushing out the door to go to a press conference. Trent said, You know, I think I screwed up, and I want you to know that if I offended somebody, I apologize. And I want you to pass that on to others. So I said, Well, I will pass that on. I got asked about it at the press conference -- last question. We were there to talk about who the new DSCC, Democratic Senate campaign leadership was going to be and got through all those questions. Last question, as I was about to leave the room, they said, What did you think of Trent Lott`s comments? And I said, Well, he just called. He apologized. I said, A lot of us wish we could take back things we had said, said differently, hoped we could have said differently.

Well, I was then the subject of a great deal of criticism for my lack of appreciation of the hurt that it caused so many people. And one by one, I got calls, multitudes of calls from people saying, Don`t you understand what the implications were of what he said? So it caused me to rethink. And later on, I think it was the next day, I finally said, You know, I stand by what I said, but I should have said more. It was wrong. And then, obviously, there were some other comments that Trent had made at other times that reflected a sort of pattern. And I didn`t know that, either.
LAMB: How much of that is politics, or how much of it is people`s raw feelings? In other words, you know, when you`re just talking to each other, no problem. But all of a sudden, boom, the politics kicks in.
DASCHLE: Well, I think that`s right. I think that there are constituency groups that expect you to speak for them, to reflect, in part, their emotions their positions, their responses. And I, as leader -- I`m expected, at points, to do that. And so you have to try to balance that. But at the same time, you`ve got to be true to yourself and you`ve got to try to reflect as best you can who you are and what it is that you believe.
LAMB: Another story you tell about Trent Lott is the Paul Wellstone memorial service.
DASCHLE: Well, Trent was -- I thought was a real class act during that. This was a tough time for Trent. This was a -- as everyone can recall, it was, I don`t know, 20,000 people packed in a big sports arena in Minneapolis. And as we all walked in, we were cheered as Democrats. Well, Trent walked in, he and his wife, Tricia. They had flown all the way from Mississippi. And they were booed. And right at the moment, I said, I`m sorry about that. And he said, That`s -- I understand, that`s no big deal. And he had to leave early because his -- because of some flight problems that they were having, and so he left. And I -- but right before he left, he assured me that he wasn`t leaving because of the fact that he was not received well.

And so I think it was the next day, I called him and I said, Trent, I again want to apologize for your reception. That booing didn`t reflect well on those who were there or on those of us who work with you. And so I wanted him to know that, and he accepted that, and we`ve talked about it on occasions since then.
LAMB: But you said Jesse Ventura left. He was mad.
DASCHLE: He was.
LAMB: But then you said the ripple across the country was a negative to the election. Norm Coleman was elected. Can things that simple, that one event, cause that much trouble across the country that quickly?
DASCHLE: Brian, I think, in the long term, probably no. But in the short term -- keep in mind this was just a few days before the election. The viewership was phenomenal. We were surprised at how many viewers there were. I`ve forgotten now the number, but it was incredible.

Almost that night, the calls started. In fact, Chris Dodd was talking to his wife, and she thought that maybe there was a rally before the memorial service and she had seen the rally, not the memorial service. And I think that that was it. A lot of people were expecting something else. They saw that. They were taken aback by it and I think reacted very, very negatively.

I remember going door to door with Tim Johnson a couple days after that in South Dakota. Several people would not -- actually would refuse to talk to us at the door because of the reception people got at the service and the way it was all handled. So there was a palpable negative reaction that I think spilled over to the election itself.
LAMB: Another Trent Lott story was "Meet the Press," Charles Pickering, the judge...
LAMB: ...the Mississippian. What I`m getting at with all this is, as you tell these stories, I want to know how you keep a friendship going, and then when does it ever stop, if it does? Because so many incidents you talk about in your book turn on a dime, turn quickly on personal trust. What happened on "Meet the Press"?
LAMB: Well, what happened was Tim Russert, as he always does, asks very tough questions. One of the questions, I think one of the last questions he asked during that interview -- Trent and I were there together, which is unusual. We -- you don`t normally get invited side by side, but we did and we went. And I think it was virtually the last question. I was asked, How are you going to vote on Charles Pickering?

And obviously, I hadn`t had much of an opportunity to talk with my colleagues. That was still down the road a ways. We hadn`t vetted it, but I had personally made up my own mind that I was going to vote against him. I said that, and Trent was surprised with my announcement. And we spoke about it afterwards, and I think, for a while, he smarted. It was something that personally affected him he felt blind-sided a little bit by my candor at that interview.

But you ask a good question. How does a friendship or a relationship survive all of that? And the answer is, you got to keep trying. You got to keep the dialogue open. You have to -- sometimes it requires me to walk over to the Republican leader`s office -- and it`s long walk. It`s only about 50 yards from my office, but it`s one of the longest walks you`ll ever take, and vice versa. Sometimes, it`s a matter of picking up the phone. And you sit and you look at that phone for hours, sometimes, off and on, and finally, you work up whatever it takes to pick up and say, Look, I want to clarify something. I want to say something more about whatever it is that was the cause of whatever trouble. And that`s how you get through this.

I would say the tension -- I can`t compare my work to anybody else`s, but there are times when the tension and the incredible depth of emotion is so high that you can`t really explain it. All you can do is figure out a way to work through it, rise to the level people expect of us as leaders, and try to do the nation`s business as best you can.
LAMB: Are there people in the Senate, 100 members of the Senate, who won`t talk to one another, who won`t sit in the same dining room as one another?
DASCHLE: Yes. There are.
LAMB: How many? I mean, are there many?
DASCHLE: Oh, no, no. It`s a small number. But there are people who, unfortunately, have that depth of antipathy or just dislike and -- but it`s rare. It`s not many and...
LAMB: What causes it?
DASCHLE: I think...
LAMB: How much of it is politics? How much of it is personal?
DASCHLE: You know, I think most of it`s personal. Most of the politics, you can get through, as you`ve already noted. I mean, we fight on issues daily. We just -- you know, this last several weeks, we`ve had some very big fights, spent 40 hours fighting and talking about judges not long ago. And -- but at the same time, you know, there`s a personal appreciation of the relationships we have to have, if we`re going to make this government work. And I think politicians generally like to like people and like to be liked. And so, generally, we get through all of that.

But I think what happens sometimes is a sense of personal betrayal. You know, it`s often said -- and not always true -- that your word is your bond. A handshake is as good as a signature. Well, generally, that`s exactly how it works in the Senate. But there are occasions when, for whatever reason, that doesn`t happen. And I can recall a couple of those occasions myself. I was promised, I was committed, and somebody committed something to me. We shook hands. I looked at him straight in the eye in my office, and then he or she changed their opinion.

I can`t tell you what a blow it is because the Senate only works if you have that sense of truthfulness and respect for one`s word. When that happens, I think that`s when the bonds get ruptured.
LAMB: You tell the story about the vice president calling you about the need to move a vote, a story about the supplemental, the military supplemental.
DASCHLE: That`s right. He called and said that there was an urgency to one of the first supplementals on Iraq. We had to get it done. And so I went to my caucus and I said, Look, we`ve got to get this done. This is a big deal to the administration. Money is on the line. We`ve got to ensure that our troops have all that they need in order to be successful.

And so we -- I had a lot of objections because there were a lot of other issues relevant to some of the concerns that people had, but we overcame them one by one. I called people in. I talked to them on the phone. We got it all done. We passed the legislation that the administration...
LAMB: This is a voice vote.
DASCHLE: ...requested. Voice vote.
LAMB: How quickly did you do this?
DASCHLE: Oh, I think within a day. Really fast. I mean...
LAMB: And did the vice president -- was he more urgent than usual?
DASCHLE: Yes. Oh, yes. This is something that he called me personally once, if not twice, to say, We really -- if you can do this, if you can -- I know it`s a lift, but if you can do it, it really -- there`s an urgency here that has to be addressed. And so we got it done. And then they waited over a recess before we actually implemented it, after all. Now, the president was, I think, either out of the country or he was absent, was not able to -- did not sign it. I won`t say wasn`t willing. But they could have -- as oftentimes happens, you could send a bill to the president for him to sign it immediately. That wasn`t done. So it languished for days, if not longer, after we rushed to get it done in the Senate.
LAMB: Will you ever trust him again with a call like that?
DASCHLE: Well, I think that I would have some doubt about whether I could. You try to move on. You can`t -- one of the secrets, I think, of success in the Senate, if I have any at all, it would be that you can`t dwell on things that have been passed -- that have passed. You just -- you have to learn the lesson but try to move on without harboring ill feeling or ill will or trying to refight those battles over and over. You just move on, maybe a little wiser, maybe do things a little bit differently.

But I have to say, if the vice president or the president were to call me today and say, Senator Daschle, you -- we -- this is urgent, I`d probably again give them the benefit of the doubt, but I would say, You know, that was once used as the reason for moving legislation, and it didn`t happen. Can you assure me in this case that that`s not going to happen again?
LAMB: Will this be the first time in this book that you wrote that the vice president will know how mad you were about that particular situation?
DASCHLE: Yes, I think so.
LAMB: Another small incident in there, and what I`m getting at here again are the small incidents that turn into more important things. And I don`t know whether this is important or not. You tell a story about Dick Gephardt walking in the Oval Office for a meeting with the president, and the president snapping at him and saying, Put your coat on. How big a deal was that? And why did he say that to him?
DASCHLE: Well, the president -- we had never had any rules described to us. We were -- the president was kind enough some time ago to invite us to a series of breakfasts. We`d meet 7:00 o`clock in the morning, bright and early. It used to be just Dick Gephardt and Trent Lott and Dennis Hastert and myself. That is -- now Tom Delay is now part of it, as is Bill Frist and Nancy Pelosi. But when we started these breakfasts, they were fairly regular. We would do them every other week or so. But no one really told us what the rules of the event would be.

But one day, shortly after these breakfasts started, Dick, who doesn`t like to wear a jacket, was carrying it, as sometimes we all do, over his shoulder. And the president stopped him at the door and he said, Congressman, this is the Oval Office. I expect you to wear your jacket. Put it on now. And Dick looked a little startled. I remember I was right behind him. And he put it on. Nothing was said. And I think we talked briefly about it afterwards, but that was just something I guess the president felt very strongly about.

There have been other occasions when, in candor, I`ve been surprised at what I felt was not necessarily the most respectful way with which to show one`s appreciation for the Oval Office. But by and large, I think that`s an understandable request of a congressman, and so that`s how we went about it.
LAMB: Can events like that or little -- just moments like that have a lasting impact on somebody like Dick Gephardt? And can that reinforce his dislike for a president?
DASCHLE: I think it could. I don`t think in this case it did. But you remember all that. I think we all have a composite reflection of our impressions of people and of our experiences, and it all kind of makes the picture clearer. The more the composite, the clearer the picture. And I`m sure somewhere in his picture, his image of the president, is that one frame in the composite that gives him the impression of the president that he has today.
LAMB: Another story you tell is Condoleezza Rice. I don`t know what -- you can explain what words you want to use, dressing you down, criticizing you for what you had said about the president when he was on his way to London or on a trip somewhere, and you were criticizing him on foreign policy. Does a national security aide like that normally call up a senator and tell them...
DASCHLE: Normally, doesn`t. I`ve not had any conversation like that with other national security advisers in the years that I`ve been in leadership or in office. But I had made -- I was speaking to "USA Today" at a breakfast, and it was one of these breakfasts that had been scheduled for a long period of time. I wasn`t -- I came to the breakfast, made a couple of comments, answered a lot of questions, and was asked about the president`s position on a number of foreign policy questions, forgetting at that moment that that happened to be the very day he was leaving for a trip abroad.

And I was -- as you might expect, I was critical of some of those positions and some of the decisions he had made with regard to foreign policy, especially the unilateralism and the unwillingness on the part of this administration to support international treaties. We, I think, had just decided to get out of the Kyoto Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. So I was critical.

And Condoleezza Rice called shortly after that to -- I think within the day, that afternoon, to criticize my comments and to express what she said was the sentiment within the administration that this was not the time nor the place for me to be as critical as I was. And she wanted me to know how disappointed she was, the president was, and how this -- she hopes this won`t happen again.
LAMB: What was your reaction?
DASCHLE: Well, I listened, and I said, Well, I had to express myself as candidly as I felt I could. I`m disappointed that the president felt as he did and reacted as he did. It wasn`t my intention to undermine his trip or to say things contrary to what he would have us say, but that was how I felt and I had to stand by my words.
LAMB: How often does an aide call a leader in the Senate and tell them whatever -- you know, be critical of them?
DASCHLE: I don`t think it happens very often. I think it`s rare. Dr. Rice calls me with some frequency. On occasion, she may be the designated caller for me because I don`t get calls from Colin Powell, I get them from her. And I don`t get them from Donald Rumsfeld, I get them from her. So she is the person with whom I talk on foreign policy questions, in particular, but also some defense issues.
LAMB: Another personal turn was Jim Jeffords. And you tell the story about Jim Jeffords being offended by the Singing Senators. And Trent Lott, again, was a member of that group, but John Ashcroft was a member of that group. How did you find out about this, in the first place, and what`s the story?
DASCHLE: Well, Jim told me this story. He was -- I don`t know if "offended," Brian, is quite the word that he would use. I think he was really hurt and surprised, certainly, by the treatment he got. This was at an event. He was part of the four Singing Senators -- Larry Craig, John Ashcroft, Trent Lott and Jim Jeffords. And actually, they were pretty good. I`ve heard them many times, and they got into it. They sang with real vigor.

And at one point, he was at a dinner, and I think it was the Oak Ridge Boys had been up singing, and then they called up the Singing Senators. Well, all the other three, Jim found out later, were forewarned, were told they were going to come, but some effort had been made to keep that information from Jim Jeffords, not even knowing that he was going to be at the dinner. Well, he ended up at the dinner, not knowing that he was not invited to come up to the stage. He went up, along with everybody else.

As he tells it, there was a little bit of a surprise at the fact that he was in the audience. He came up, and that was his first inclination -- or I should say indication that maybe there was something going on here, that they weren`t as appreciative of his involvement in the singing group, but more importantly, in the caucus. And that was yet another slight that was -- occurred in a series of slights that Jim I think was hurt by and -- including, of course, not being invited to the White House to honor the Teacher of the Year from Vermont shortly thereafter.
LAMB: Do you think he made his decision to switch parties on a personal basis like this?
DASCHLE: No, no. In fact, I can absolutely guarantee that it was far more consequential than that. I think it was two things -- one, his feeling that the president did not keep his word with regard to a number of issues that he cared deeply about, especially education, and, two, I think a comfort level philosophically with our caucus that he was beginning to feel was more important to him initially. He was uncomfortable in the Republican caucus, but willing to stay there because of his long association with the Republican Party. But over a period of time, it just became clearer and clearer that, number one, it didn`t appear he was welcome there. Number two, he had some fundamental differences with the administration on the direction, but then also just didn`t feel like the commitments were kept.

On the other hand, we tried to embrace him as enthusiastically as we could and told him we`d love to have him join us, and I don`t think he has any regrets.
LAMB: You got to be leader in the first place on a 23-23 vote with a tiebreaker from a man who`s no longer a Democrat.
DASCHLE: That`s right.
LAMB: What`s that story?
DASCHLE: Well, I love that story, because, first of all, as you`ve noted many times, in fact, you`ve done leadership, lecture series filming of our -- of the Old Senate Chamber. That`s where these elections take place. Keep in mind, I ran for election as leader running for majority. We`d lost the majority. I was running against a dear friend, somebody I cared for a lot, Jim Sasser. Jim Sasser lost to Bill Frist in that election that year. So Chris Dodd...
LAMB: What year was this?
DASCHLE: That was in 1994. Chris Dodd picked up the campaign where Jim Sasser left off, and so the tension walking into that room that day, we had all had gone through -- I had made the last round of calls, and I got to Ben Campbell, and just happened to stumble into -- run into him in the parking lot outside the Capitol. He was getting on his Harley-Davidson the day before.

And I said, I just want to again thank you for your support. By the way, the vote`s tomorrow, and I hope, you know, you`re going to be there. And he said, you know what? I forgot. I can`t be there. I`m sorry.

Well, I didn`t even know if you could vote proxy at the time, so we scurried around to find out if you could. And sure enough, you could vote proxy. I called Ben. Ben made out a proxy, signed it, put it in an envelope and sent it to the sergeant at arms. The vote then took place, the nominating speeches in the Old Senate Chamber.

And then you have to write the name on a little piece of paper, and I had a couple of people on either side of a couple of questionable votes, and in both cases it was funny because we were talking afterwards and they said -- before the votes were counted, and they said, well, all I could see was that the first name started with D, and then we laughed. Both Dodd and Daschle start with D, so that wasn`t any help.

But the votes were turned in, and one by one they called them out. And it got to be a tie vote with an envelope at the bottom of the box, pulled open the envelope, and it was Ben Campbell`s vote. He voted for me. I won the election. My wife is standing right outside. We embraced each other. About a week later he called me and said, Tom, I`m sure glad I voted for you when I did, because I won`t be able to the next time. I`m leaving the caucus and I wanted you to know.
LAMB: Why did he leave?
DASCHLE: I think he left in part because of the same reasons Jim left. I think he felt more comfortable on western issues in particular with the Republicans. He had some differences of opinion with the Clinton administration, and I think some differences of opinion with his party in Colorado.
LAMB: Let me ask you about a picture in your book. There`s only one picture of your wife in the book. It`s this picture here, and the reason I want to ask you about is we don`t see what she looks like. Where is that picture taken, and why don`t we see Linda Hall Daschle from the front?
DASCHLE: It`s funny you mention that. That actually was a picture my wife suggested we put in the book. And I think -- it`s disappointing to me that you can`t see her face, because it`s such a beautiful face. But I think it captured what I was trying to write in the book about the incredible emotion. That was taken walking through the hallways of the Capitol after 9/11 and after all of the extraordinary experiences we had in that very brief period of time. We`re holding hands. I drew strength from her hand and walked. Our emotions frayed, and the extraordinary depth of feelings we had. And there`s something about holding the hand of your life partner at a time like that that gives you strength, and we thought -- I thought it captured it so well that I wanted it in the book as well.
LAMB: You know that your marriage is somewhat controversial in political circles. You bring it up in the book. But I wanted to ask you about two different references to your wife. The first time I read it, I`ll admit I laughed, I just chuckled a little bit. Then I read another one. The first time I read your reference to your wife -- I`m going to find it here. It`s on page 108 -- you describe her as the following. You say, "she has worked as a public policy analyst for the aviation industry for more than 20 years." And then about 200 pages later, you say "Linda is an influential aviation lobbyist." At first I thought you were defining a lobbyist as a public policy analyst, then I realized later that you had actually identified her as a lobbyist, and the problems that were created by her being an aviation lobbyist. So -- did you know that you consciously...
LAMB: ...define them two different ways?
DASCHLE: I did, because she hasn`t been a lobbyist for 25 years. She`s been an analyst. Part of a lobbyist`s job is to analyze and to provide clients with the best analytical information about public policy that you can. But in her case, she started out, of course, working for an airline and then went to an association representing airports, and then she became the deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration for a number of years, and then came out to become a lobbyist with a number of aviation clients. So, throughout her life she`s been a public policy analyst. Currently she`s not only an analyst but a lobbyist.
LAMB: So, in a town like this, you name a lot of power couples in the town. Is it a problem at all ever for your constituency? That this is a lobbyist, and you are a high-powered senator?
DASCHLE: I don`t think so, Brian. I think people in South Dakota know us well. We spend a lot of time at home. I get into every county every year. I think I`m probably as accessible as anybody has been in my state. Linda comes home a lot. I think people feel they know us, and I think they understand what life is like in Washington and respect the fact that she has her own career, her own professional ambitions and aspirations, and that the spouse of a public service person should not be penalized or in any way criticized for the fact that she or he has their own professional life to live.
LAMB: How far does she go with the rule of not ever lobbying a senator?
DASCHLE: She exceeds the rule. She not only doesn`t lobby me or my office, she doesn`t have any involvement whatsoever with the Senate. She only limits her activity to the administration and to the House of Representatives, which I would add parenthetically is of course Republican in both cases. So, I`m not sure the Daschle name helps her all that much in those terms, so she goes beyond what the ethics laws require.
LAMB: There`s another picture in your book I want to ask you about, and it`s this one right up top of the picture of you and your wife. When was that taken?
DASCHLE: That was taken on election night, 2002. And it was used because I -- against the advice of some, I felt that it really reflected how I felt. I was -- they do say a picture is worth a thousand words. That`s worth a couple of thousand, because it catches my body language and that translates into my extreme disappointment at the outcome of the election of last year.
LAMB: It`s obvious, but did you expect to win?
DASCHLE: We did. You know, we -- I`m always going to elections tempering expectations. I try to keep low expectations, because you fall victim to disappointment all too often if your expectations get too high. But all the pundits, all the pollsters, all of the people actually felt the Democrats were going to pick up seats. We had incredibly good candidates. And we had -- you know -- resource-wise we were comparative with the Republicans for virtually the first time.

So we had thought we had everything going for us, and so we sat and we were enthusiastic that night. I`d invited a bunch of people from around the country to my home estate, South Dakota, to watch the returns, to celebrate the victories. And one by one, the returns started to come in. And as they came in, things looked bleaker and bleaker and darker and more pessimistic. And then the concession speeches started, and it was a long night.
LAMB: Low expectations. Is that why you told your staff you had a 10 percent chance of being president of the United States when you were thinking about running?
DASCHLE: Yes. Absolutely.
LAMB: What did you really think?
DASCHLE: Well, I really -- it`s not just having low expectations, it`s actually believing them. I mean, I really thought that given the fact that you had to get through all that one did -- first of all, we were coming right off of an unexpected defeat in the Senate for the election, and having unexpected problems, I think, in terms of repositioning our caucus and our party.

We started out, we thought, way behind the curve. And so, with that environment, I had to win a primary, win the nomination against some very formidable candidates, not even knowing at that time who all they would be, and then once having done that, had to run against at that time one of the most popular presidents in modern history. So, I really felt that at that point the odds may only be 10 percent.
LAMB: So, you`re in your study at your home and you are up there by yourself, according to your book, the night before everybody expects you to say you`re going to run for president. What really happened?
DASCHLE: Well, what really happened is that I had gone out to South Dakota the weekend before, and I was so pleased with the response I got from my best friends and those who came to the sessions we had to talk about all of this. And I had said all along, let`s assume that we`re going to run because if I don`t, or -- I mean, I should say if I do run, I want to be ready to go. We couldn`t wait.

And so, I wanted everybody to go in with that assumption. It was easier to say no than to say yes, and having lost a couple of months, so that was the assumption, that we were going to go into it. But I also said I`m going to make my final decision no later than the first day of the session, of the first session of the Congress, 108th Congress.

So, it was that night. I hadn`t completely made up my mind. Throughout the day, people started calling, telling me about the role that they felt I played in the caucus and the important decisions that we had to make early on about leadership and where we were going to go as a caucus, and laying out our legislative agenda. And I had a number of calls from South Dakotans saying, you know, we`re sure going to hate to lose you as our South Dakota senator.

And the more I thought about giving up, first, my Senate seat, then giving up my leadership for this 10 percent chance of running for president successfully -- I finally decided, as I sat there alone at my desk -- my wife had already gone to bed -- I just couldn`t do it. I just wasn`t ready to do it. I didn`t want to give up so much that I`d done and cared for and so much passion for the job that I now have.
LAMB: Did you really wake her up and tell her that you had changed your mind?
DASCHLE: I did. I did.
LAMB: Did she try to change your mind again?
DASCHLE: No, she didn`t. She said, why don`t you wait until morning, think about it, sleep on it. And I said, I`ve made up my mind. And so, then she got up and we talked some more. And she advised me to call a couple of my key staff, which I did. And we went from there.
LAMB: Go back to the 10 percent thing. You know, we hear your colleagues now running for president say, I`m going to be president. Dick Gephardt, I think, says it more than anybody else. I`m going to be president. John Kerry says, I`m going -- you know, they say they`re going to be president. Do you think they really believe it?
LAMB: Would you have done that when you ran -- would you say, I`m going to be president?
DASCHLE: I can`t say something that I don`t -- that I in my heart I don`t believe. But you know what happens, as you get into this, and it`s -- I can`t explain it. I honestly think I`m going to get reelected, but you really have to create this mind-set that allows you the license to go do what you`ve got to do. You`ve got to create in your mind a vivid picture of victory.

And it`s almost, I`m sure, like a sports -- there`s a sports analogy or metaphor here somewhere, because it really is -- if you can`t vision that, you can`t perform, and if you can`t perform, you`re not going to get it done. You`re going to be what you think you can be, but you`ve got to think it before you can do it. And if you`re not going to do it, you`re not going to get it done.

So, it`s really -- it all starts up here, whether it`s a golf game, a tennis game, a football game, or putting aside all the games, for real, running for public life and public office, you`ve got to think you can before you can.
LAMB: Have you decided that you`ll never run for president?
DASCHLE: No, I`ve not decided that. I don`t know that there`s much likelihood of it, but I haven`t decided that.
LAMB: What`s the next election you have to run for?
DASCHLE: I run for reelection next year in South Dakota.
LAMB: How Republican is South Dakota?
DASCHLE: South Dakota is a Republican state, 53 percent Republican, 37 percent Democratic right now.
LAMB: How do you win?
DASCHLE: Well, there are many wonderful Republicans who are willing to cross over, independents who support me, and I do pretty well with my own Democratic base in my state.
LAMB: But what -- I mean, this is an example -- I mean, you can see them around the country where you`ve got, you know, a Republican base that votes for Democrats or a Democratic base, and they vote for Republicans. What is it that you do there to keep the Republicans voting for you, and how many Republicans vote for you?
DASCHLE: Oh, it`s about 20 percent of the Republicans that vote, have voted for me in the past.
LAMB: Are they conservatives?
DASCHLE: Some are, yes.
LAMB: But you know, on a national basis, people see you as very partisan on the Republican side. You know, I`m sure you`ve heard that before. And do you feel that way?
DASCHLE: I don`t feel that way, no. I feel like I have to be the spokesperson for my party, but first and foremost, I feel like I have to be a senator from South Dakota. There have been recent issues that have been debated where I`ve taken a different position than my caucus, and I have no regrets about that.

But I think it`s -- I think in South Dakota, and in rural states in particular, beyond party label and beyond even philosophy, people vote for the man or the woman, they vote for the individual. And they vote for that person based on their own appraisal, their own perception, their own sense of what that person`s all about.

I have a lot of conservative supporters, Republican supporters, who, based on personal relationships or based on things that I`ve done for the state, or the way I conduct myself in office, the fact that I get to every county in South Dakota every year, all of those things make up their composite, as I was talking about earlier, and I think that makes the difference.
LAMB: When you`re the minority leader or the majority leader, how much staff do you have different from when -- I mean, how many more staff members do you have?
DASCHLE: A lot more, probably double your staff. I mean, there is -- there are several categories. There`s the floor staff that I`m responsible for, the Senate floor staff that work, we say the cloak room staff and the floor staff together. That`s a group of dedicated people that I just don`t know. They`re the unsung heroes of the Senate. I only wish people knew more about them. And then, of course you have what we call the leadership staff. They`re the ones responsible for staffing the leadership committees and for providing the services to our caucus that the caucus expects. So, you have all of that on top of your own personal staff.
LAMB: How much more money do you make a year than a regular member of the Senate?
DASCHLE: I make a few thousand dollars more. To be honest, I think it`s about $12,000 more, I`m not quite sure.
LAMB: How much security do you have?
DASCHLE: There are seven security detailees that are detailed to me personally. Two of them travel with me all the time.
LAMB: And Tom Coburn, a former member of Congress, sat in that chair in the last BOOKNOTES we had, and he had a very negative twist on everything that goes on in the Hill, including the fact that the public and even the members don`t really know what`s being voted on over there. And he put a whole different picture on it than you have. What would you say to the cynics that say this club over here operates for the club and not for the public at large?
DASCHLE: Oh, I don`t know. I guess, as you say, I would strongly disagree with that. I think even most Republicans would disagree. I think it`s a more civil institution. I think that we -- we don`t have ...
LAMB: More civil in the House?
DASCHLE: Oh, absolutely. Much more civil.
LAMB: He was talking about the House.
DASCHLE: Oh, I am sorry.
LAMB: He wasn`t talking in the Congress in general.
DASCHLE: Oh, OK. I do think that we put a lot of effort into trying to do the best we can and reflecting our constituencies, our -- you know, our own points of view. I ask people, imagine 280,000 people in one room and asking that group to figure out what our position ought to be on taxes, or on foreign policy, or on the environment, or on education, 280 million people.

Well, in a democracy and in a republic, you`re going to have, if it`s well represented, the diversity that our society reflects. I don`t think we have the diversity that I wish we did, frankly. But if you did, you`d have the same degree of emotional attachment to these fights as you can imagine you`d have with 280 million people, and that`s what happens every day on the floor of the Senate.

I call it the noise of democracy. You see the noise of democracy every day, and nobody does it better in capturing that in C-SPAN, but sometimes it`s not very stereophonic, but it`s a noise that sure beats the noise of violence that I see when I watch the coverage of how decisions are made in a lot of other countries.
LAMB: Was this book written for your presidential run?
DASCHLE: No. In fact, when I started talking to publishers, I said I don`t know whether I`m going to run for president. I don`t know what my plans are. I may retire. I want to write this book because I think it ought to be written now while I have the opportunity fresh in mind to talk to people who experienced it, as I did, when all of the information would be available to me that may not be available down the road. I wanted to write it now when I felt it was the most appropriate to write it.
LAMB: So, how did you write it so somebody would buy it? What was in your head about what things you could say?
DASCHLE: I didn`t want it to be a diatribe. I wanted it to be a book about what happened, but I also wanted it to be an honest book. Obviously, I`m a Democratic leader. You`re going to get some Democratic rhetoric in here about what we stand for and how I perceive what the Republicans stand for. And that`s in there. But I wanted it to be a book that was readable enough where people could pick it up and say, I didn`t know that about the Senate, I didn`t know that about what went on. I was -- and I wanted it to be relevant to the current day. I didn`t see this as a history book as much as a better understanding of how it is we got to where we are right now.
LAMB: What`s your favorite chapter?
DASCHLE: I think my favorite -- I think the chapter that I`m proudest of is the chapter on the anthrax attack, because it showed how...
LAMB: It`s a long one.
DASCHLE: ...incredibly dedicated my staff was and what heroes, in my view, they were in handling the crisis and the tragedy as well as they did and it had a happy ending. The ending was not one person suffered serious illness, and obviously no one died.
LAMB: But you were not happy ...
DASCHLE: No one in the office die.
LAMB: You were not happy with the government.
DASCHLE: I was not, no.
LAMB: Center for Disease Control?
DASCHLE: Real disappointment.
LAMB: Why?
DASCHLE: Well, I`m not sure why. They -- I felt that they could have done a far better job. I think it was -- internal politics might have played part of a role. I don`t know what it was, but it was a poor reflection on what I know they`re capable of doing.
LAMB: What did they do wrong?
DASCHLE: They were not responsive. They made statements that were factually inaccurate. They were not always very cooperative. They were slow to respond. They were too bureaucratic. The list goes on, but it was not a good experience.
LAMB: You define in here what you think the Republicans are and what you think the Democrats are. I want to read a little bit of it and get you to expand on that. "The Republican rigidity, strict sense of hierarchical structure, and the insistence on conformity goes straight back, I think, to the reaction against and fear of what they saw as the loss of order and the result of chaos that occurred in the anything-goes `60s. They gripped the reigns so tightly today, I think, largely because of their discomfort with and insecurity about what happens when the reins are too loose."

And then you define the Democrats, call it the trust issue. "Not only do we Democrats trust diversity, we also encourage and embrace it as a fundamental tenet of our society, we feel enriched and strengthened by the differences among ourselves."

Republicans would -- if they were sitting over there, say yeah, yeah, maybe you do, but it`s also very positive from a political standpoint, because that`s where your votes are, that they would say you pander to diversity because that`s where your votes are. And they would -- I mean, I`m just taking their side for the point of discussion. What would you say to that? I mean, do you care more about people that don`t look like you than Republicans do?
DASCHLE: Oh, I think we are probably more empathetic in part because that is partly our constituency. I don`t challenge that. I think we both have constituencies. I think, they go the extra mile oftentimes for their constituencies. Often times, I think they`re the privileged constituency in our society, and that`s why the fights. I mean, they feel that those who have been rewarded in society have been rewarded for good reason. We think that that may be true, but they owe more to the country because they`ve benefited more. And that`s where part of the philosophical divide begins.
LAMB: Political scientists for a minute. You`re in a classroom, and the discussion comes up as to whether or not we`re better off if you -- if our society has a strong debate confrontation or the get-along idea. We have a lot of people call this network saying why can`t they just get along? Are we better off if you`re confronting one another or better off if you are putting your arms around each other and saying let`s get along?
DASCHLE: Well, Brian, there is sort of a middle way, and that would be -- I think the confrontation is actually good, because I think people want to believe that we are -- when you have a good pro/con debate -- and frankly, I think to a certain extent the Medicare debate this year has been a generally positive experience, even though we came out on the short end. And I think it was at least in the Senate, it was a civil debate.

The House, I`m not so sure about that, but I think that`s the word that I would come back to is civility. I think that confrontation with civility is exactly what our founding fathers had in mind. Sometimes we lose that civility, and that`s where the problems begin. But I don`t think we should get along just to go along. I think that it`s important for us to have our debates, but there comes a time when you`ve got to move on and agree where you can and disagree where you have to.
LAMB: You tell a story in the book that George Bush came to see you early in his presidency, and he sat down and you talked about a number of things, but he made a statement -- and I don`t have it right in front of me -- that we`re not going to be dealing with energy for a long time. We`re not going to change this much. And you remembered that and put it in your book. What did that say to you at the time?
DASCHLE: Well, basically he said -- he kind of demeaned the possibilities of alternative energy, saying, you know, basically what we`ve got to do is drill, and we`ve got to use the traditional sources, because that`s all we`ve got available to us, and if we`re serious about energy policy, that`s the solution. And minimized the potential for conservation, the potential for alternative energy development. And he was at that point in a very -- I would even say dogmatic frame of mind. He was -- there was no arguing, and I could see sort of the combativeness come out in George Bush for the first time as we sat this close together in my office. And -- so, it was an interesting illustration of what we were in for.
LAMB: Has he lived up to that?
DASCHLE: Yes. Oh, absolutely. That`s been exactly their -- the administration`s position, and his style. He can be very combative, but he can also, as my story in the book goes about the rest of the conversation, he was also a very affable, a very, very friendly, you know, easy to talk to. He`s good one-on-one. He has real good communications skills sitting together with you, and they all were very much in evidence.
LAMB: How do you go into a meeting and seemingly get along in a meeting and then walk out, not just saying you, anybody, and blast the guy that you just met with in front of the cameras out front of the White House or wherever? How do you do that?
DASCHLE: Well, I think because it happens on both sides. You know, you ...
LAMB: But how do both sides it?
DASCHLE: Absolutely. Both sides do it, and I think -- you know, we blast, but if you look, we try, and maybe we don`t do a good enough job of this, but we try to do it in a way that isn`t personal. I mean, if it`s personal, then it`s another matter. But generally, we try to stay on the issues. We blast them. We talk about how misdirected, how mis-motivated they may be, but at the end of the day, we try to keep it on the actions rather than on the individual.
LAMB: We`re out of time. "Like No Other Time." Senator Tom Daschle. Here`s the cover of the book, "The 107th Congress and the Two Years That Changed America forever." Thank you very much.
DASCHLE: Thanks, Brian.
Copyright National Cable Satellite Corporation 2004. Personal, noncommercial use of this transcript is permitted. No commercial, political or other use may be made of this transcript without the express permission of National Cable Satellite Corporation.