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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC

TAPED: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2006
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 4-5, 2006

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: The Perfect Storm.

With hours to go, the electoral ocean is heaving. Tsunami energy is within and restless for release. Its first signals are clear: A political earthquake is on the way, like 1994 and 1938 and 1894. The House of Representatives will be lost by the Republicans. The Senate could also edge into the Democratic column.

This Democratic takeover of next Tuesday's election will be a referendum on George W. Bush and on his handling of the Iraq war. The election has been nationalized, and the verdict is clear -- a bust for Bush. The winning coalition put together by Reagan and Gingrich and lasting for a 12-year Republican cycle will be wiped out. Question: Is that opinion dominantly true or dominantly false?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, I think that the Republican Party, I believe, is going to lose the House. The question is by how much. I do think nationally, if this were a referendum on the Republican Party and President Bush, he would be a 65-35 race or 60-40. I think it would be a wipeout.

But I'm not sure the Senate is going to be lost to the Republicans. I think a lot of Republicans have built independent constituencies that they can weather this storm. But it's going to be a storm. The question, is it Category 1 or Category 4?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, is it going to be a referendum on Bush?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, it's going to be a referendum --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Dominantly?

MR. BUCHANAN: Dominantly a referendum on Bush and Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The war is the galvanizing, overriding issue. And, yes, the election has been nationalized. But when you do look at the House races, the Republicans, during their period of dominance, have erected some structural barriers that do make it harder for the Democrats to take over than it might have in the past.

But this has the makings of one of those wave elections. They happen about once a decade; happened in' 94; happened in 1980. We're about due for one. And I think the country is basically ready for a primal scream against the party in government. It's about Iraq, but it's about a lot of other things -- incompetence and corruption from top to bottom.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's largely about Iraq, but I think the congressional Republicans also have contributed to whatever is happening by their seeming to be spending too much, for not dealing with the border, other conservative issues, that have made it harder for Republicans to get their voters to the election.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they haven't dealt with the border.

MR. BLANKLEY: They did at the end, but unfortunately not as completely as a lot of the members would have liked -- a lot of the voters would have liked.

As far as your metaphor of the storm, I would say we're like watching this hurricane form off the Gulf of Mexico, and it's an imperfect eye. And depending on how the winds adjust when it hits land, we'll either have a big storm or a moderate one. And I'm not prepared -- I don't think it's possible to predict whether you've got your perfect storm or not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Senate tsunami. I'm going to be with you in just one moment, Lawrence. The Senate today is comprised of 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats, one independent. For Democrats to take the Senate from the Republicans, the Democrats must net gain -- that's a verb, Tony -- six seats. There are nine cliffhanger races. Seven are held by the Republicans. Six of those seven must be won by Democrats. Two are held by Democrats, which the Democrats must keep.

Let's begin with those two Democrats' seats -- Maryland, Democrat Ben Cardin versus Republican Michael Steele. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Michael Steele has run an outstanding race, but it's a Democratic state heavily. It's a Democratic year. I think he'll fall short.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Cardin squeaks through. He's an unexciting candidate. Michael Steele has run a first-rate campaign. He's got an electoral future, but not this time around.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't necessarily disagree with that, but it's only three to five points. The energy is with Steele. If you're looking for a long-shot victory for Republicans on Democratic turf, it would be Maryland.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: I agree with Pat and Eleanor. Cardin's going to take it. And just to go back to the national picture for a second, yes, there's a huge storm coming. And the question is, as Eleanor suggested, have the Republicans built levees around those congressional districts that will allow them to survive? They haven't done it enough.

If it was the old days, 10 years ago, Republicans would be losing 45 seats. They're going to lose at least 20, but they'd lose many, many more if it weren't for gerrymandering.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, are you saying Cardin or Steele?

MR. BUCHANAN: I said Cardin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cardin. McLaughlin says Cardin. Group votes four to one, Cardin. Maryland stays Democratic. MR. BUCHANAN: Four-zero. He's not sure. (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: I'm calling it half for --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Typically deviant. (Laughter.)

Okay, New Jersey Democrat incumbent Robert Menendez versus Republican Tom Kean Jr. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Menendez takes it. I think he's moved above 50 percent. And I think it's a hold for the Democrats.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I agree. It's Menendez. Tom Kean Jr. has a great name and a fair resume, but Jersey is a Democratic state.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It could be an upset, though, Tony, right?

MS. CLIFT: Everything could be an upset. (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Menendez will win it, even if he doesn't get as many votes. I think the New Jersey Democrats will take care of that. (Laughter.

) But I think he will win.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Menendez wins, fair and square.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: McLaughlin says Menendez. Group votes five to zero, Menendez. New Jersey stays Democratic.

Okay, the Republicans hold seven seats of the nine cliffhangers. First, Ohio: Republican incumbent Mike DeWine versus Democrat Sherrod Brown. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Horrible situation for the Republicans in Ohio. There's a scandal. Manufacturing jobs have gone out the window. The trade issue is big. DeWine loses. The Democrats take it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Right. Democratic sweep in Ohio, and it's ground zero for the '08 presidential campaign, just as it was for '04, a big win for Democrats.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, it's going to go Democrat.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Unanimous; it's going Democrat.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: McLaughlin says Brown. Group votes five to zero, Brown. Ohio goes Democratic.

Okay, Pennsylvania: Republican incumbent Rick Santorum versus Democrat Bob Casey Jr. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Santorum, I think, is a terrific conservative. He's a courageous guy. I like him. But he is still holding in at around 40 percent. An incumbent senator has got to do better than that in the polls, John. It goes Democratic to Casey. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, it goes to Casey, who is a pro-life Democrat and an example of the big-tent Democrats that you see running this time.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Casey going to win because it's an anti- Santorum vote?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, there are a lot of problems. Santorum had a problem with his base because he supported Arlen Specter in the primary, a lot of reasons. I've got to say that although, obviously, it's very likely that Santorum is going to lose, Casey's defending of John Kerry's slander of the American troops has given Santorum one last issue to fight with this weekend.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it showing that way?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, there's no polls on that yet. But it's a great issue. Pennsylvania is a great military state. Their National Guards go back to before the republic. There are a lot of military families. But I have to think that he won't make it all the way and that Santorum loses.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Tony, hedge your bets on that one.

Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Santorum is going to suffer a well-deserved humiliating defeat. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: McLaughlin says Casey. Group votes five to zero, Casey. But we're not quite sure of Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, no, I'm not predicting --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Pennsylvania goes Democratic.

Okay, Rhode Island: Republican incumbent Lincoln Chafee versus Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's so overwhelmingly Democrat. It's a Democratic year. Whitehouse wins it.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I'm going to miss Lincoln Chafee, the most idiosyncratic Republican, but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does that mean?

MS. CLIFT: Lincoln Chafee is going to lose. I'm going to miss him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, he's idiosyncratic in that sense. MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: That means he votes with Eleanor occasionally. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Right. (Laughs.) He's a liberal Republican.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Be nice to the Chafees. I know them well, father too.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Great people.

MR. BLANKLEY: This is going to be the only incumbent Whitehouse the Democrats are going to get.

MR. O'DONNELL: I am sad to see the Chafee family lose that seat, but it is going to go Democratic.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: McLaughlin says White House also. Group votes five to zero, Whitehouse. Rhode Island goes Democratic.

Okay, Missouri: Republican incumbent Jim Talent versus Democrat Claire McCaskill. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Talent is going to win this because I see the stem cell research issue Michael Fox was involved in is moving in Talent's direction and moving away from McCaskill. The president went out there. I think this is one of the closest in the country, but I give it to Talent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: And I see it moving the other way, because I think the stem cell initiative on the ballot, which would allow stem cell research to go forward in a state that is dependent on some very big research institutions, and with former Senator Danforth on the side of stem cell research -- and he's an Episcopal priest -- I think the dynamism is there, plus the women's vote.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: This is a perfectly balanced election. No one is ahead right now. If it's a big Democratic night, it'll go against Talent. If it's a moderate Democratic night, Talent may be able to hold on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Talent is an incumbent who is not leading a brilliant challenger. Claire McCaskill's campaign has been perfect. She's going to win. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's caught the imagination out there?

MR. O'DONNELL: Great campaign.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: McLaughlin says McCaskill. Group votes three to two, McCaskill. Missouri goes Democratic.

MR. BUCHANAN: Three-one-one, John. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you monitoring their mental arithmetic here?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, it's three-one-one. Tony did not indicate --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did you do? You also deviated from your original posting on this, did you not?

MR. BLANKLEY: I go back and forth on this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, okay.

MR. O'DONNELL: During his answer he goes back and forth. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, we still have --

MR. BLANKLEY: It's a perfectly balanced election there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But it did not -- your --- (word inaudible) -- did not upset the balance. We do come down on the --

MR. BLANKLEY: I'm glad my --- (word inaudible) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's going to be McCaskill.

Okay, Montana: Republican incumbent Conrad Burns versus Democrat Jon Tester. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Conrad Burns has come roaring back. Brother Novak was out there. He's using the tax issue. He was within one point. The momentum is all in Conrad Burns's behalf. And the president of the United States rolled in for him. I think Conrad Burns is going to take it. It's a red state, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, they're pumping Burns up as they're not --

MR. BUCHANAN: They had almost written him off as dead, and they're throwing money in.

MS. CLIFT: I think this is a phony game. I think Conrad Burns is gone. He's too closely tied to Abramoff. You have a Democrat who's perfectly positioned for the state, Jon Tester, a pro-gun Democrat. He was on the cover of The Weekly Standard as a new face of the Democratic Party. I think Tester takes it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: This is one of those campaigns -- this is one of those elections, not that's been even all along -- (laughter) -- but there's a trend line. And the trend line --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's caught my shoe here. That trend line is coming this way. (Laughter.)

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible) -- me out, Tony.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly. MR. BLANKLEY: Burns.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're saying Burns? He's saying Burns.

MR. O'DONNELL: Conrad Burns is another Republican incumbent who is not ahead. If they're not ahead now, they're not going to win. Burns is going to lose. This is going Democrat.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I agree with you. McLaughlin says Tester. Group votes three to two, Tester. Montana goes Democratic. Okay?

Okay, Tennessee: Republican Bob Corker Jr. versus Democrat Harold Ford Jr. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: "Call me, Harold." (Laughs.) Corker wins it going away. His polls now show him almost 10 ahead. And -- (inaudible) -- has never gotten up to 50 percent. He's run a fine race, Harold has, but I don't think he's going to win. I think it's Republican.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I think Ford has always been in an uphill fight here, running as a Democrat in Tennessee, the state that Al Gore couldn't win in 2000 when it was his home state. So I think it's going to be tighter, though, than you think, but I don't think Ford makes it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Corker by three.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: This is the one that I'm not sure of. I can see it either way. I guess, if I have to bet now, I will bet against Ford today if I have to bet.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. I will go along with you on that and the others. I'm saying Corker -- five to zero, Corker. Tennessee stays Republican.

Okay, Virginia incumbent Republican George Allen versus Democrat Jim Webb. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm going to do a Blankley here. (Laughter.) You know, this is really tough, tough to call. Look, Webb looks like he's got excitement, enthusiasm and momentum. But this is a -- there's no reason why Allen, on his record, should lose his seat. I'm going to come down with Allen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Webb says that he wouldn't be afraid to talk right up to the commander in chief and tell him what he thinks on Vietnam -- MR. BUCHANAN: He's a tough guy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- I mean, on Iraq.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's a good man. He's a tough guy, a great veteran.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: In a testosterone-filled race, I think the women's vote is really going to make a difference here. And I think the gender gap will revert in favor of Webb. And also the picking out of the excerpts from his fiction --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

MS. CLIFT: -- is like book burning, and I think it alienated a lot of Republicans --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it will draw women to vote for him?

MS. CLIFT: I think there was a backlash against reverting to that sort of campaigning. It helps Webb.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sex rules.

Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Just as in Montana, the trend line was for the Republican. In Virginia, the trend line is for the Democrat. I think Webb pulls it out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Yeah, Tony's finally right. Webb wins this one. Senator Webb is on the way.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, McLaughlin says Allen. Group votes four to one, Webb.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no -- three to two.

MS. CLIFT: No, no -- three to two.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three to two?

MR. BUCHANAN: Me and you are with Allen, John. We're hanging in there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, pal, three to two, Webb -- same outcome. Virginia goes Democratic. Okay, the Group tally on the U.S. Senate, the magic six number, a six-seat gain for Democrats -- Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Missouri, Montana and Virginia.

What does it mean? A majority of the Group on this platform declare that the U.S. Senate will go Democratic.

Okay, bringing down the House. To win control of the Republican- controlled U.S. House of Representatives, with its 435 seats, Democrats must net gain 15 seats. The Group agrees unanimously, I think --

MR. BLANKLEY: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, hold on -- that this Democratic takeover of the House will happen, except for deviant Blankley. Correct? (Laughter.)

Okay, gubernatorial races of the nation's 50 governors: Republicans hold 28 governorships, Democrats have 22. That's 56 percent Republican, 44 percent Democrat. You got it?

Question: What will be the percentage of Republican and Democratic governors after Tuesday? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it'll be close to 56-44 Democratic. But Eleanor made a very important point.

They're going to win Ohio. They're going to sweep Ohio, and Ohio has been the pivotal state in a couple of presidential elections. And that is very bad news for the Republicans.

MS. CLIFT: Democrats are going to pick up seven, eight governorships, and that's going to put them in position in key states to even out the gerrymandering that the Republicans have been engaged in over the last 20 years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's likely they'll largely invert, although I think Minnesota is going to go Republican. If I can very briefly -- since you told me I'm deviant in my thinking on the House --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I didn't say thinking. (Laughter.) How about the package? (Laughter.) Look at the attire. Start with that. (Laughter.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Very manly, I think.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's lovely. I love it.

MR. BUCHANAN: The handkerchief --

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, the House --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pull yourself together, Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: In the House right now, there are only 10 to 12 races where the Republicans are actually behind, but there's another 35 to 40 where, if there's a breeze behind the Democrats, as there well may be, it could go Democratic. So the range is really about 12 to about 50.

And I think the one thing we can look for is that the House and the Senate will move largely together. If there are only four Senate seats to go Democratic, the Republicans won't do too badly in the House. If it's six in the Senate, it'll be plus 30 in the House.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence, let me get this straight. The U.S. Senate, the U.S. House and the dominant collection of governorships in the United States will all go Democratic. MR. O'DONNELL: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that what you're saying?

MR. O'DONNELL: Exactly right, yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you believe that.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you believe that.

MR. BUCHANAN: You know, I'm just about at 50 Senate seats. I think I said something like 51 the Republicans will hold. But I agree with Tony. I think the whole package could go. I think there could be a real tsunami here.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm predicting the perfect storm, total tsunami.

Issue Two: "My Bad."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "My poorly stated joke at a rally was not about and never intended to refer to any troops. I personally apologize to any service member, family member or American who was offended."

Senator Kerry's offending words were intended to ridicule President Bush's lack of planning and research on the Middle East that has led to the U.S. troops being, quote-unquote, "stuck" in Iraq.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): (From videotape.) Yesterday I was in the state of Texas. As you all know, President Bush used to live there. Now he lives in a state of denial, a state of deception. I'm glad to be here with you. I really am. Thank you for the privilege of coming here.

We're here to talk about education, but I want to say something before -- you know, education, if you make the most of it and you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Bush immediately seized on the Kerry statement.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) The senator's suggestion that the men and women of our military are somehow uneducated is insulting and it is shameful. The members of the United States military are plenty smart and they are plenty brave. And the senator from Massachusetts owes them an apology.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Senator Kerry returned Bush's fire. SEN. KERRY: (From videotape.) If anyone owes our troops in the field an apology, it is the president and his failed team and a Republican majority in the Congress that has been willing to stamp, rubber stamp, policies that have done injury to our troops and to their families.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Kerry's gaffe a tactical boon to the GOP in the closing days before next Tuesday's vote? I ask you, Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: It hasn't turned out to be, because it's been overtaken by other things, including the New York Times revelation that the Republican Congress insisted on putting out on the Web information taken out of Iraq on how to build, oh, a nuclear bomb, which they then immediately had to take down.

So this party that's been running on national security and homeland security, it turns out, has been distributing how to make a nuclear bomb on the Web for many, many months. And so that's overtaken this Kerry stuff, which has disappeared.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, broken policy.

SEN. KERRY: (From videotape.) This policy is broken. And this president and his administration didn't do their homework. They didn't study what would happen in Iraq. They didn't study and listen to the people who were the experts and who would have told them. And they know that's what I was talking about yesterday.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: The latest New York Times/CBS survey -- 29 percent have confidence in Bush's management; 70 percent think he has no plan to end it; 80 percent think his shift in rhetoric is a language game.

So when Kerry calls the policy broken, is he echoing the views of the American voter? I ask you, Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, he can't get off the hook by attacking Bush on Iraq. Everybody knows the position on Iraq. In fact, he has a long history of slandering American troops. He did it in '71 when he came back. He did it a couple of years when he called them terrorists. And, in fact, he should know better. And he's the dumb guy, because studies done show the average soldier has a higher educational level and a higher socioeconomic level than their compatriots who are not soldiers.

MS. CLIFT: This was --

MR. BLANKLEY: And it is outrageous and it is going to have a price.

MS. CLIFT: This was not a slip of the tongue that revealed some inner disdain for the troops. I mean, this is, after all, somebody who served, unlike everybody who's criticizing him who did not serve. It cost the Democrats a couple of news cycles, but it does not change the underlying disgust and dissatisfaction with the war and with this president.

MR. BUCHANAN: It may be a lack of confidence in Bush, but I'll tell you, there is zero confidence in John Kerry right now. He was not only attacked by the president and everybody else; he was repudiated and attacked by Hillary Rodham Clinton, by all these Democrats, saying, "Get out of my district; don't show up here."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, are you --

MR. BUCHANAN: He's a goner.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you exhibiting Hillary as witness A in favor of the war?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, John McCain, his friend, put a knife right in his back.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Kerry on the offensive.

SEN. KERRY: (From videotape.

) I'm not going to be lectured by a White House or by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, who's taking a day off from mimicking and attacking Michael J. Fox, who's now going to try to attack me and lie about me and distort me.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does Kerry please you with that statement?

MR. O'DONNELL: Look, The New York Times had the good grace to print what Kerry's prepared text actually was, which was, "If you don't do your homework, you don't study, you end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush." That's what the guy meant to say.

For the press and for other politicians to try to make this into a big thing --

MR. BUCHANAN: Then why did Kerry vote for the war? If Bush got us over there, why did Kerry vote for it?

MR. O'DONNELL: It hasn't gotten traction -- it doesn't have any traction through the weekend into Election Day. It won't have any effect.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think what Kerry said had a bad effect on the morale of the troops in Iraq, or do you think that the repeated deployments of those troops and the quagmire that they recognize themselves to be in, that anything that Kerry said is laughable -- that it's laughable for anyone to think that he could lower the morale of those troops?

MR. O'DONNELL: Exactly. I agree with that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do agree with that?

MR. O'DONNELL: I agree that --

MS. CLIFT: I absolutely agree with that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you agree with that? MR. BUCHANAN: No. Do you think they want Kerry as commander in chief? Come on.

MS. CLIFT: The only thing --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Come on, now. Do you think they want Bush? Who would they select if they had to select between Bush --

MR. BUCHANAN: Bush in a second. Bush in a second.

MR. BLANKLEY: The media has not gone to ask the soldiers because they know the answer. By the way, a unit from Minnesota that was there put up a sign mocking John Kerry.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, who do you think pulled that together?

MR. BLANKLEY: The soldiers in Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, come, come, come. How do you know that? How do you know that?

MS. CLIFT: The same folks that engineered the "Mission Accomplished" sign.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We saw the way the White House is able to produce six soldiers sitting in those bleachers. Remember that?

MR. BLANKLEY: They didn't produce it. We know the names --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Remember when we did that?

MR. BUCHANAN: I remember when we did that, John. Look, if you think Kerry had a good week --

MS. CLIFT: It's a cheap trick to --

MR. BUCHANAN: If you think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who said Kerry had a good week? I think Kerry had a tough week, a terrible week.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's gone, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But that doesn't mean he's guilty because of this.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's apologized.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe he's telling the truth.

MR. BUCHANAN: He apologized.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe it's a slip of the tongue. MR. BUCHANAN: He apologized to the soldiers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who won the week, the Republicans, including, of course, President Bush, or the Democrats? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Or the Democrats and Kerry? Even, dead even.

MS. CLIFT: The Democrats win. The voters know manufactured outrage when they see it.

MR. BLANKLEY: The Republicans won the week, but may not more than that.

MR. O'DONNELL: The Republicans are losing every week.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A draw. Bye-bye.

(PBS segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Separation Anxiety.

BOY: I'd rather be in a single gender than mixed because it's easier.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Segregation is back -- not racial, gender -- gender segregation. New federal rules will soon allow America's public schools to offer classes with boys-only and girls-only separation. That separation reduces behavior problems and boosts grades, educators say.

Opponents say gender today, discrimination tomorrow. Currently 240 public schools out of America's 93,000 offer all-boy, all-girl classes. Under new federal rules, classroom gender separation would be entirely optional.

Question: Pat, do you believe that the federal government intervened on this matter and prescribed that gender separation was undesirable and unlawful at any time, and now we're talking about changing the rules?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think the rule -- there's no doubt there ought to be a rule change. I really believe in freedom on this issue. I went to all-boys high school and all-men's college.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who taught there?

MR. BUCHANAN: The Jesuits taught there. You taught at a Jesuit school. It was all boys. You were in a seminary. There were no women there, I don't think, John. So this thing ought to be -- people ought to be free to do what they want.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think? MR. O'DONNELL: I don't know. If we're going to breed more Buchanans -- (laughter) -- with same-sex education; I was in favor of it till I heard that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, Gonzaga's favorite son?

MR. O'DONNELL: No, look, there's a lot of -- in private schools, there's still a lot of sex segregation. And they do it for some practical reasons.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can I get the science on this from somebody? What's the science?

MR. O'DONNELL: It's in dispute, to put it mildly.

MS. CLIFT: There's a lot of early research that shows boys and girls learn differently. Boys like to interrupt each other.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are their grades better? Are their grades better?

MS. CLIFT: Girls like to wait for an orderly turn. Are they raised better?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are their grades better?

MS. CLIFT: Are their grades better? This is about trying to improve academic performance.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes. Women's colleges are a huge --

MS. CLIFT: You've got Senator Clinton and Senator Hutchison --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The grades are better when they are segregated.

MS. CLIFT: -- who approve of this, so I think I approve of it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do?

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about you?

MR. BLANKLEY: For junior high and high school, it's a great idea. Elementary school, I don't think it's necessary. But women are distracting to men and women are distracting to men. When you're adolescents, keep them apart in school; they'll do better.

MS. CLIFT: Not in every subject, though.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Verbal skills, mathematics and science, gender differentiation is superior to mixing them up. MR. BUCHANAN: Women's colleges are very, very --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mount Holyoke.

MR. BUCHANAN: They have created one-third of all the successful women in the country, I think, have come out of these all-women's colleges. They ought to be retained.

END.