The McLaughlin Group

Issues: Trans Pacific Partnership / House Speaker / Hillary Clinton & Keystone / Democrat Debate

John McLaughlin, Host
Pat Buchanan, Author & Columnist
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune
David Rennie, The Economist

Taped: Friday, October 9, 2015
Broadcast: Weekend of October 9-11, 2015

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ANNOUNCER: From Washington, THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP, the American original. For over three decades, the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, HOST: Issue One: Historic Trade Act.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We expect this historic agreement to promote economic growth, support higher-paying jobs, enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness, raise living standards, reduce poverty in our countries and to promote transparency, good governance and strong labor and environmental protections.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): The United States this week signed a landmark free trade deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership, TPP, with 11 Asia Pacific nations. The TPP joins the United States with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Taken together, these nations have a combined GDP of -- get this -- $28 trillion. Under the TPP, these nations have agreed to open their markets and eliminate trade tariffs.

For President Obama, who has long sought new trade deals, TPP is a major accomplishment. The president will now have to work to gain approval from Congress for the TPP, and that won’t be easy. Labor unions and trade protectionist activists, including presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump and former frustrated Republican presidential candidate, Pat Buchanan, claim TPP will shift American jobs overseas and weaken the U.S. economy.

Unsurprisingly, the White House disagrees. It wants Americans to endorse TPP.

Here’s a White House press release:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, President Obama is working with Congress to secure his trade agreement, the Trans Pacific Partnership, or the TPP. This trade agreement will write the rules so Americans can sell their good to the fastest-growing markets without being blocked or put at an unfair disadvantage. And that’s the kind of deal that puts the American worker and the American cherry on top.


MCLAUGHLIN: Is this trade deal good or bad for U.S. workers? Pat Buchanan?

PAT BUCHANAN, AUTHOR & COLUMNIST: John, these aren’t written for U.S. workers. These are trade deals put together by transnational corporations and trade ministries to globalize the world economy, basically to enable these powerful corporations to move their factories and plants out of countries where the wages are high, to countries where the wages are low so they can bring their products back in free of charge into the United States.

In the last month, our trade deficit’s running at $600 billion overall this year, and with China at $400 billion, John.

But I will you this -- the forces that oppose these transnational trade deals are getting stronger and stronger. Not only Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party, but Mr. Trump in the Republican Party, this deal is in real trouble and I predict that they’re going to have to throw the deal, the discussion in the House of Congress over past, certainly past the early primaries.


ELEANOR CLIFT, THE DAILY BEAST: There’s a lot of negativity around these trade deals. NAFTA was way oversold, but that was 20 years ago.

And I think the president makes the point that we learned some lessons, then. This deal will eliminate 18,000 taxes and traffics, 38 percent on America beef sold in Japan and they love our beef. Up to 70 percent is tacked on cars in Vietnam. The president again makes the point that there’s environmental standards and labor standards that he says are unenforceable.

This requires trust in President Barack Obama, and I happen to think that a progressive Democrat is not going to sell out American workers. But he’s got to make that case to the American people and to Congress.

MCLAUGHLIN: David Rennie?

DAVID RENNIE, THE ECONOMIST: Well, I think unfortunately you’ll be shocked to hear this. But there is also party politics involved, the election politics. So, Hillary Clinton came out against the TPP, a deal that she herself had talked up for years and years, particularly as secretary of state.

And I think what’s going on there is, her most immediate threat right now is Vice President Joe Biden joining the race, and also the energy that’s being sucked from her by Bernie Sanders, the left wing senator from Vermont.

By coming out in favor of the TPP, if you are completely shameless, it’s a brilliant move, because Vice President Biden is obliged to defend administration policies, so he has to defend TPP. So, he’s locked off to Hillary’s right, and then she hugs Bernie Sanders tight on the left, and she’s home clear. And we’ve got the first Democratic debate next week, and she cruises into that with Biden blocked, perhaps dissuaded from joining the race, in her ideal world, and Bernie Sanders with no room to differentiate on trade.

MCLAUGHLIN: She’s opposed to the TPP because the unions don’t like it and she needs the union support badly.

RENNIE: That and the party base, and also this maneuver that, it makes life harder for Joe Biden. And she doesn’t Joe Biden to throw his hat in the ring.

CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well, I’m shocked, shocked to hear that there’s politics involved in a trade vote and all, just like I was shocked that there’s gambling in Casablanca.

The fact is that they -- it’s certainly true that people some people will benefit, some will lose. That is always true in trade. But on the whole, we tend to gain in the long run, but it is a question of trust, though, politically, and that’s going to be a big argument here in the wake of NAFTA, because NAFTA was oversold.

BUCHANAN: Politically --

PAGE: And there’s people who lost jobs.


MCLAUGHLIN: Let Eleanor in.

CLIFT: Clinton figured out that, if she supported this deal, it would be a poison pill in the primaries. I mean, I don’t see how a Democrat can win these primaries if they support this deal. And so, Joe Biden, his base of support is the unions and the AFL-CIO. It would be very difficult for him to come in and separate from President Obama. So, it’s politics, yes, but --

BUCHANAN: All right. Let’s forget Joe -- forget Joe for a second.

CLIFT: -- it’s not going to cost her any votes.

BUCHANAN: Forget Joe for a second.

If Hillary goes into a general election against Donald Trump, and she’s for the Trans Pacific Partnership, she puts Ohio at risk and Pennsylvania at risk, and Michigan at risk in the general election. This makes all the sense in the world for Hillary. It’s a cold-blooded decision. My guess is if he became president of the United States, she would embrace it.


PAGE: Good chance of it.


CLIFT: She’ll be for it. She’ll (inayduble) support on the editorial pages, but it’s not going to affect any votes.


MCLAUGHLIN: Doesn’t Hillary’s opposition surprise you, given that Bill Clinton’s administration passed NAFTA and Most Favored Nation Trading status with China, and negotiated China’s entry into the WTO. Her husband, three trade deals that changed the world and ushered in the era of globalism?

BUCHANAN: That’s when --


MCLAUGHLIN: Is Hillary full of surprises?

BUCHANAN: When he was president.

CLIFT: Well, I think still supports --

BUCHANAN: He did that as president, not as a candidate.

RENNIE: And Hillary Clinton has a --


RENNIE: -- has a long track record --

BUCHANAN: She wants to be president.



BUCHANAN: If you’re A candidate, go against it. If you’re the president, OK, and you’re globalist, go for it.

MCLAUGHLIN: Just disregard all the other influences in your life.

BUCHANAN: Get into the presidency of the United States --

MCLAUGHLIN: That’s all that counts?



MCLAUGHLIN: See what his morals are?


RENNIE: He’s run for president.


MCLAUGHLIN: He’s run for president.

BUCHANAN: And I was against it and I lost.

RENNIE: If she gets elected to the White House --


BUCHANAN: So did Dole – Dole lost too.

RENNIE: -- she’ll do a screaming U-turn like a diesel Volkswagen -- she’ll be --

PAGE: This is enough to sort of issue the necessarily --

MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question -- I’m sorry. What was that?

PAGE: I was going to say, listen, sort of issue that necessarily turns an election. But it can make a difference when you get down near the wire, insofar as the fact that those people who are opposed to losing jobs to trade overseas, they’re very well-organized group, especially in the Democratic Party. So, it’s something --

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, here’s another thing I didn’t see here. When she was Obama’s secretary of state, she helped lay the foundation for the TPP.

PAGE: Yes, that’s right.

MCLAUGHLIN: Which she now says she opposes.

PAGE: Foolish inconsistency.

MCLAUGHLIN: For only those altruistic reasons that we went through before.

Exit question: Is Hillary’s opposition to the TPP a harbinger of tough sledding in the Senate?

BUCHANAN: I agree with Eleanor. This thing will not get through the Congress in the spring. I don’t think it has a chance to get through, unless you’ve got -- Trump doesn’t get the nomination for the Republican Party.

PAGE: Hard to imagine.

CLIFT: I mean, I think this deal does have a chance to get through. I didn’t -- and I think Hillary is substantively on the wrong side, but she’s on the right side politically and I understand why she did it. But I think there are still going to be enough votes in the Congress.

BUCHANAN: I think it’s going down --

MCLAUGHLIN: David Rennie?

RENNIE: I think there’s a grave danger, if you support this deal, which "The Economist" does, that you’re going to have to wait for the next presidential election to be over, because I think it’s so tempting for the Republicans to say, oh, we love free trade, but just this president is such a bad negotiators that we just can’t support this deal this side of the election.

I think incentives are all there for the Republicans.

MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, Congress will approve of the France -- what is it, the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Issue Two: Speaker Who?


MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): The race to replace John Boehner as the next speaker of the House of Representatives, third in line to the presidency, is heating up. On Thursday, things took an unexpected turn.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), CALIFORNIA: I think I shocked some of you, huh?

MCLAUGHLIN: When California Congressman Kevin McCarthy, who had been the frontrunner, unexpectedly ended his candidacy.

Congressman McCarthy had faced criticism in recent days after suggesting that the Benghazi committee investigating the September 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, was an attempt to score damaging political points against Hillary Clinton, rather than discover the facts of Benghazi.

MCCARTHY: Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable.

MCLAUGHLIN: The House vote to elect a new speaker is scheduled for October 29.

So, now, Republican centrist Jason Chaffetz and Republican hardliners Daniel Webster and Lynn Westmoreland are vying for the top spot. But note this: Rumors are spreading on Capitol Hill that budget expert and 2012 vice presidential candidate, Congressman Paul Ryan, may enter the race as a consensus candidate to unite the Republican Party.


MCLAUGHLIN: Did McCarthy’s comments in the Hannity interview destroy his chances of becoming speaker?


CLIFT: I think that was one factor, because he committed the Washington version of a gaffe, which is he told the truth, and it’s unrecoverable. I mean, the Clinton campaign has put out web ads, you know, pointing that this is a politically-inspired witch hunt. Benghazi has been investigated by eight -- eight separate investigations including several on Capitol Hill, Republican-led, they haven’t found anything.

So, this is a great gift that he gave to the Clinton campaign. There were also, you know, rumors that there were some aspects of his personal life that may have prompted him to withdraw from the race so suddenly. But whatever his reasons are, being speaker of the House, with a Tea Party Republican caucus, it’s ungovernable. It’s a thankless task. And I wish whoever gets the job well, because it’s really tough.

BUCHANAN: John, here’s the situation: the Freedom Caucus has about 40 votes. Now, all you need is half the Republicans in their caucus and you’re the nominee for speaker, but you have to get half the Congress when you in there, and the 40 Republican conservatives can deny you the speakership. They would have voted against McCarthy and basically on the Sean Hannity, what he said on that killed him, but he still might have won it.

But now, the one individual that there’s a real push behind, by all elements of the party, is Paul Ryan. And as of this weekend, even though he’s a reluctant warrior, wants to remain chairman of Ways and Means, my guess is they’re going to probably force him to take this, or maybe have Boehner hold on until the New Year.

PAGE: And that’s the irony of it, which shows, all that everyone’s talking about is the chaos that’s going on in the House Republicans.

Paul Ryan is a great choice, but the fact that he doesn’t want the job is indicative of why he ought to have it, because he really wants to get things done, and the problem with the House right now is nothing is getting down.

RENNIE: With respect, I don’t think -- people used this word "chaos". I don’t think it’s chaotic at all. I think it’s really, there’s the gigantic tactical disagreement within the Republican Party in the House. Some of them think that their job is to get legislation passed. The 40 or 50 who have this blocking minority, they think that their job is to use every lever they have like shutting down the governments, not increasingly the debt ceiling and that’s the correct --


BUCHANAN: Let me agree with David once.


MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Let him finish. Are you finished?

BUCHANAN: There’s a revolution going on the Republican Party. David is exactly right. It’s an authentic battle inside the Republican caucus over principles and policy. It is going on in the Republican Party at the presidential level, where you’ve got Ben Carson and got Donald Trump and you got the regular Republicans.

This is a great struggle inside -- I think it really is --

PAGE: But it’s not a beneficial struggle. You cannot say --

BUCHANAN: In the Democratic Party, too.

PAGE: When you got a big faction that’s ready to close -- to shutdown the government over "principle", quote/unquote, rather than to actually get something done, to work together legislatively. That’s a failure. That’s a colossal, structural failure that damages the party overtime.

BUCHANAN: From your standpoint it is. These folks believe the country is going in the wrong direction.

PAGE: It’s a minority group. He’ll deal with the majority.

CLIFT: It’s a minority group and you can choose not to pay the nation’s bills. It’s what debt limit is about. It’s about paying cost congress has already incurred. And some of the presidential candidates, notably Ben Carson, doesn’t even seem to realize that that’s what the debt ceiling is. So --

RENNIE: Right, here’s another point --

CLIFT: They’re playing on, they’re playing on voter ignorance of processes in Washington.

RENNIE: You and your allies and your supporters in place, like the Tea Party, they put on the tricorner hats, they put on the 18 century knee britches and they say how much they love the Founding Fathers.


RENNIE: The Founding Father set up a system of checks and balances and divided government.

BUCHANAN: The problem is --


RENNIE: -- the 40 or 50, hey’re not willing to make divided government work.

BUCHANAN: They made the Congress the most powerful branch of government, and right now, it’s weakest. It’s surrendered its power to the court. It’s surrendered his war powers to the president. It’s got -- that’s the problem --


MCLAUGHLIN: Hello, hello, hello, hello --

CLIFT: That’s because the minority is holding the majority hostage.

MCLAUGHLIN: Hello, beam me up, Scottie.

PAGE: Ah, "Star Trek" fan. I love it.

MCLAUGHLIN: Caretaker speaker, who could hold the job through the November 2016 congressional elections. Some potential caretakers, retiring Minnesota Representative John Klein.

CLIFT: Right.

MCLAUGHLIN: Texas Representative Mac Thornberry, or Oklahoma Representative Tom Cole.

BUCHANAN: They’re not going to do that. Somebody who’s in the House right now, they’re not going to get somebody from outside, John.


CLIFT: But they’re allowed to under the rules.

BUCHANAN: Trey Gowdy in the Congress right now.

RENNIE: And Newt Gingrich has said he’s ready to serve, like Cincinnatus called from his plow.

PAGE: They can even keep Boehner,who lives near Cincinnati, by the way.

BUCHANAN: That’s what makes the most sense to me until January.

PAGE: Right. It’s possible.

CLIFT: Let -- yes, let Boehner do the tough stuff that the Tea Party Caucus doesn’t like, do --

BUCHANAN: Ready to clean the barn.


CLIFT: Well, that’s how key he said, that that’s what he would be doing. He would be cleaning out the barn. He actually used that phraseology. So --

RENNIE: There’s a lot of classical analogies flying around.

MCLAUGHLIN: I’m going to give you a couple more names. Jordan, let’s see, Jordan, head of the Freedom Caucus. And Candace Miller, National Republican Congressional Committee chairman. Greg Walden, Lynn Westmoreland, Jeb Hensarling, there are a lot of people out there.

CLIFT: Yes, but none of them are going to get --

MCLAUGHLIN: They can be caretaker speaker.

CLIFT: Yes, but they still have to get 218 votes. And caretaker or full time.

MCLAUGHLIN: Actually, the best of them all is Jason Chaffetz.


MCLAUGHLIN: He has the skills to build coalitions and work across the aisle when necessary.

I love Chaffetz because he’s a Mormon. What do you think of that?


BUCHANAN: I think he’s -- I don’t -- he challenged McCarthy. I think he’s close to the Freedom Caucus. I’m not see the full house would go for him.


CLIFT: The way he berated Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, certainly cost him a lot of credibility with the head of American women.

MCLAUGHLIN: Chaffetz has extraordinary negotiation skills.

CLIFT: He’s a bully.

MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Hillary versus Keystone.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, I get it. You’re a politician.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes. And how about you?

CLINTON: Me? I’m just an ordinary citizen who believes the Keystone pipeline will destroy our environment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I agreed with you there. It did take me a long time to decide that, but I am against it.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): That was how "Saturday Night Live" featured Hillary Clinton’s September 22 decision to oppose the Keystone XL energy pipeline.

Mrs. Clinton’s decision was a long time coming. As U.S. secretary of state between 2009 and 2013, Mrs. Clinton said she supported the Keystone XL Pipeline. What changed? Her status -- she lives government and reenters the political arena, with its own imperatives.

CLINTON: I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone Pipeline as what I believe it is, a distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change.

MCLAUGHLIN: But Keystone is not all. In recent weeks, Hillary has proposed new government control over college tuition reform, gun laws and pharmaceutical drugs pricing.


MCLAUGHLIN: Is Hillary’s opposition to Keystone XL primarily political in nature, or is it principled?

I ask you, David.

RENNIE: Well, as far as we can tell, her choice of breakfast cereal is political in nature.


RENNIE: So, I don’t think we should be too shocked.

You know, it is outrageous that she said for years that, because this was a complicated international negotiation where the secretary of state – where the State Department had the lead, it would be wrong for her to comment. And then suddenly, as she needs to see off the left and push Bernie Sanders back into his box, she’s discovered that principle forces her to take a position.


CLIFT: But the politics of oil have also changed dramatically over the last year or two, and even the Canadian government has pulled out of the negotiations in Nebraska. So, Keystone may never happen. And the environmental community is a big aspect of the Democratic coalition.


CLIFT: Sure, it’s a political decision, but I don’t think it’s in conflict with her values or anything dramatic like that.

And Clinton has had a very good week or ten days, the McCarthy gift about Benghazi, the "Saturday Night Live" is very funny, she did really well. And her position on gun laws, she’s now got the moral high ground over Bernie Sanders going into the debate, next week.


CLIFT: Sanders hasn’t always voted with gun safety folks.

BUCHANAN: Eleanor, Hillary is moving to the left to block out Bernie Sanders, who’s made a terrific rush and, on all these issues, 100 percent political.

I agree -- she doesn’t choose her breakfast cereal without wondering whether Cheerios or Kellogs Corn Flakes.

PAGE: Except on gun control, where she was not moving toward Bernie Sanders, because he’s to the right of the Democratic Party. So, this is tactical. And once again, I’m shocked that there are tactics to winning election into the presidency.

CLIFT: Totally.

MCLAUGHLIN: All right. This is an exit question. The FBI confirmed this week that two computer companies involved with Hillary’s email server, one in Connecticut, another in Colorado, are now involved in the investigation into her email and national security.

Is that bad news for Hillary?

PAGE: A lot of people treat it that way, but, John, this is one more of the headlines, the drip, drip, drip, that we’ve been seeing for months, and that leads to, later on, an announcement that the investigation turned up nothing. But the fact is it’s damaging in the sense that it is a drip, drip, drip.

But we’re kind of used to it by now. I don’t see any polls turning --


CLIFT: That’s a quote.

BUCHANAN: That’s an exit question. She’s walking, continuing to tip-toe through a mine field, and one of these days, a real mine could go off.

PAGE: Well, so they say, but how do you know?


BUCHANAN: No, I said it could go off.

PAGE: And you said that throughout eight years of Bill Clinton’s administration. And it didn’t happen.

BUCHANAN: One of them did go off.

PAGE: It went of, but he still survived, didn’t he?.

MCLAUGHLIN: Right, Clarence. Right. Right. Good for you, Clarence.

PAGE: And survived with very high approval ratings, so here we go again.

MCLAUGHLIN: Good for you to point that out to Pat.

Issue Four: Democrats Debate Part I.


MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Next Tuesday, five Democrats will gather in debate. Moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and hosted at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, this will be the first of six Democratic presidential debates. Participating will be: former senator and first lady, Hillary Clinton; senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders; former senator and governor from Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee; former Maryland governor, Martin O’Malley; and former senator from Virginia, Jim Webb.

Analysts expect fireworks on the stage. After all, while Hillary Clinton remains frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders is rising in popularity and momentum with Democratic activists. In addition, Lincoln Chafee, Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb are determined to boost their low polling figures.


MCLAUGHLIN: Come Tuesday, what should we expect from Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Lincoln Chafee, Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb?

I ask you, David.

RENNIE: It’s going to be a bit like kind of Japanese kabuki theater, because normally a debate is between which of these people on stage is going to be the nominee. But we know that Lincoln Chafee, Jim Webb, Bernie Sanders, they cannot be the nominee. They’re not viable national candidates.

So, Hillary Clinton is going to be under pressure, because Bernie Sanders sort of represents the left of the party, rather than a viable challenger. She’s also going to wrestle her own bad reputation, the negatives that people feel about those issues.

She’s, in some ways, wrestling lots of, kind of, puppets and phantoms, rather than the people --


Eleanor, do you think this will be a circular firing squad, with its attention focused on Hillary Clinton?

CLIFT: No, I don’t think so.

I think Hillary Clinton has rolled out a number of policy proposals in recent weeks, on colleges, on anything you can imagine, just about ever topic under the sun. So, she has substantive answers.

She’s preparing. She’s going through practice debates with Bob Barnett, her lawyer, playing Bernie Sanders, and Jake Sullivan, an aide, playing Martin O’Malley.

Meanwhile, you got Sander saying, I don’t do any of that. I don’t rehearse. I don’t have any briefing books. I’m just going out there and I’m going to be myself, which is true.

And I think what Clinton has to do is really be herself and she is the most presidential, the most experienced person on the stage.

MCLAUGHLIN: She’s the frontrunner and others want to be the front runner and they want to move her away so they can become frontrunners.

BUCHANAN: Look, the policy positions, set them all aside. She’s set up fine.

What she’s going to be running against in that debate is the image of Hillary as humorless and all the rest of it. She’s running against the negatives about Hillary.

So, if she goes up there and she’s humorous and she takes the criticism well, makes her points sharply, shows that she is a candidate that can beat the Republicans in the poll, that’s what she’s got to convince, is the whole national audience, that this is a lady whose really got it and who’s with it and who can be president of the United States, and I like her. That’s what she’s running --

RENNIE: So, it’s an audition, not a debate.

BUCHANAN: Exactly.

PAGE: I think her biggest problem she has to worry about is overconfidence, because she’s very well positioned right now. She’s still frontrunner. She’s projected to be.

And her problem eight years ago was that she was too overconfident in regard to competition she was receiving from Barack Obama. Now, it’s Bernie Sanders. I think she’s very well aware of what’s happening, which is why she came out the way she did in regard to Keystone Pipeline and to the --

CLIFT: But if it’s about likeability. Bernie Sanders isn’t exactly warm and fuzzy and likeable. That’s not --


BUCHANAN: She’s not running against Bernie. She’s running against the image of herself.

RENNIE: That’s right.

CLIFT: She is running against Bernie and finally now, she’s not just shadow boxing with herself. She is running against someone else.

MCLAUGHLIN: Would Joe Biden be on the stage at the Wynn Hotel?




CLIFT: No, he’s said he’s not.

BUCHANAN: You were wrong, John.

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Biden’s entry will shake up the Democratic race. It might make the public tune in.

RENNIE: I’m hoping Lincoln Chafee goes back to his signature policy, which is putting America on the metric system, because that’s by far the best policy out there in the whole 2016 campaign.

PAGE: There goes the heartland!

CLIFT: You want it to be more like the U.K.?


RENNIE: No, we’ve gone metric, reluctantly, but it makes a lot of sense.

MCLAUGHLIN: The Republican debates had been ratings blockbusters, hitting the mid-20 million viewers both times. Will the Democrats draw as much interest?

BUCHANAN: Nowhere near it.

PAGE: I think --

BUCHANAN: The Donald is not there.

PAGE: Only in spirit, right?


PAGE: But it’ll get good ratings, though, because Bernie Sanders has surprised everybody with the audiences he has attracted. I think the public is aware and alert to the issues to the right now. They haven’t made up their minds totally, and so you’ve got some suspense.

MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Pat?

BUCHANAN: The Americans and Putin and Syria will come closer together on their tactical operations because they have to.


CLIFT: Bernie Sanders has the trickiest job in next week’s debate, because he doesn’t want to directly criticize Hillary Clinton, but he has to criticize what she stands for, which is Clintonism and all the moves of the party towards the center under her husband.


RENNIE: We will see American warships sail within 12 miles of the Chinese reefs in the South China Sea, to prove that they have the right of passage.

MCLAUGHLIN: Then what?

RENNIE: Then, there’ll be a big fuss. But it will be a good thing to do. It’s the right thing to do. It’s going to happen.

MCLAUGHLIN: Who’s going to win the fuss?

RENNIE: Just, the Chinese need to know that their legal claim is invalid and America will enforce it. But there’s been a big round. It’s going to end with warships going through.

MCLAUGHLIN: Very exciting.


PAGE: Ben Carson is trying to get some of Donald Trump support, and neither one’s going to get the nomination.

MCLAUGHLIN: I predict that Ben Carson’s comments about refusing to cooperate with a mass murderer and urging others to jointly overpower the shooter -- well, it will go over well with the public as a rare example of commonsense. Not a criticism of victims.