THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC TAPED: FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2007 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JUNE 30-JULY 1, 2007
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Immigration Dies Hard.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn't find common ground. It didn't work.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was a crushing political blow to President Bush. Senate Republicans this week blocked a sweeping immigration reform bill. This bill had become the top domestic priority of the president's 19 months remaining in office. This defeat exposed Mr. Bush's dwindling authority over his own party, and it increased the probability that his troubled second term will end without a single significant legislative achievement in these four years. The president had invested a lot of his remaining political capital in pushing for immigration reform. He aligned himself with Democrats and Republican moderates behind a comprehensive bill that would have further tightened border security and also offered a path to citizenship.
That path to citizenship would have legalized 12 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S. The bill fell 14 votes short of the 60 needed to cut off debate. This opposition to immigration reform has merged with growing Republican unrest over the war in Iraq, and that situation has created the most serious breach between Mr. Bush and his party since he took office.
SEN. JON KYL (R-AZ): (From videotape.) A lot of Americans have lost faith in their government. They don't think we can control our borders, that we can win a war, that we can issue passports.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Only 12 of the 49 Republican senators voted yes on immigration; 37 voted no.
Question: Is the description of the damage done to George Bush by the immigration defeat, as stated in that video opening, A, is it accurate?; B, is it exaggerated?; Or, C, is it understated? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, it is a grave blow to the president of the United States. It is his number one priority. As important as that, this is a sign that Bushism, if you will, and the Republican Party is really no longer the dominant, if you will, philosophy. Tomorrow, the fast track expires for Bush. He's not going to get the Doha Round.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Trade policy.
MR. BUCHANAN: Trade policy, immigration policy. The party has left him. Moreover, 15 Democratic senators voted, if you will, with the conservative Republicans on this. So on that issue, I think the party is really split.
Personally, I think it's less of a blow to Bush than I think this is a sign of a real sea change in American politics. There's a new nationalism, a new patriotism, a new, quite frankly, sort of America first, as opposed to globalism, that is really on the rise.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, could things get worse for Bush, really?
MS. CLIFT: Yes. I mean, he's still got, what, a year-and-a-half left in office. He can do a lot more damage, unfortunately. And the situation that he is presiding over so fitfully can also grow worse. And this is basically a requiem for his presidency.
The only issue that had a possibility of leavening his legacy on Iraq was to maybe get some sort of immigration reform. There's no consensus in the country what to do. But the American people are angry, and they're angry at their leaders for not figuring out what to do and for failing to enforce the laws.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What could he have done differently, Tony, in order to salvage an immigration bill?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, he could -- he should have not taken the path he did to find a comprehensive bill. The Washington Times --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Comprehensive bill.
MR. BLANKLEY: We did over 12 editorials hitting this very hard. But let me say this --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Namely that he should have split it up --
MR. BLANKLEY: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and gone with border control.
MR. BLANKLEY: Just border control. But, look, let me say this. This may be the low point of his relationship with the Republicans, with the exception of the Iraq issue, which is going to get worse for him in September. I think there's a reasonable chance, now that he's got this disastrous policy behind him --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He can build on it?
MR. BLANKLEY: No, that he can come back. I think he's going to come back now --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He has no other way to go?
MR. BLANKLEY: I think he's going to come back and look at a border only. I think he's going to start fighting on Democratic spending. I think he's going to go for court appointments and try to recombine with the Republican rank and file to try to build towards a competitive position in next year's election.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Split it in two -- beef up the border first. The same thing happened with Mazzoli-Simpson. Were you there for that?
MR. O'DONNELL: No. But the Democrats would not have allowed to try to just separate out the border enforcement pieces and just try to do that. So he had no choice except to go for the comprehensive. The only way things could have been worse for the president is if he actually succeeded. His poll numbers would have gone down a little bit more in the right wing if he had gotten this bill passed. And that's where it ended up. It was decided by the middle. It was not decided by the extremists on this subject, like Pat Buchanan. It was decided by the moderate senators in the middle who decided they couldn't go with it. MR. BLANKLEY: They all agreed with Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Who drove them? (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he could have split it in two, notwithstanding what Lawrence says?
MR. BUCHANAN: I disagree with Lawrence. Look, if the president of the United States had come out with a border security bill, enforcement, he would have gotten 90 percent of both houses.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: Hillary Clinton voted for 800 miles of fence last year.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. If --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Simpson-Mazzoli went through the same thing. They worked on that bill for five years. They had an unlimited number of committee meetings. They had academics in there.
And they went for one year for the amnesty because the amnesty was killing them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But take the amnesty out of this bill, it would have sailed through both houses.
MS. CLIFT: If he'd come out for enforcement only, he would have kissed goodbye to -- the Hispanic vote for the foreseeable future. He may have already done that. And with the Hispanics being the fastest- growing population bloc in this country, a party that is on the wrong side of that demographic growth is doomed.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make a point about this. There's a lot of ambiguity in the attitude of Hispanic-Americans. There are plenty of polls showing that legal Hispanic-American American citizens are against the illegal immigrants.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Conservatives?
MR. BLANKLEY: They're perfectly moderate. So I don't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Social conservatives?
MR. BLANKLEY: I don't buy your argument. But second point -- right now we're looking at next year's election, not the elections five or 10 or 20 years from now. And right now what Bush has to do is solidify the vote for 2008, not for 2018.
MS. CLIFT: The enforcement, the way it was phrased by the Republican Party in the bill that they passed a year ago, prompted all of those massive rallies --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor, where are the Reagan Democrats on this? They come back to the Republicans on this issue.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Have we seen the last of the immigration bill? Pat Buchanan. MR. BUCHANAN: We've seen the last of amnesty. You are going to get an enforcement bill, I think, and you are going to get a fence built.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think so?
MS. CLIFT: No, I don't think so. I think late 2009 is the first you're going to see of this again.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's next administration. Do you think this is the end of the bill?
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I already said earlier that I think that the president will come back with a border only. He'll get almost all the Republicans with him, and a bunch of Democrats are going to feel compelled to go along. It could happen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would the Democrats then let him do it?
MR. O'DONNELL: No, I think it's dead for this Congress. But Bush has been dead in terms of domestic governance since he got re- elected. This is not the death of the Bush presidency. What happened to Social Security reform? It was dead on the first day. Tax reform -- dead on the first day. He's gotten nothing except judges, Supreme Court judges; very important legacy of the second term. Nothing else --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also, he hit them with a huge Medicare drug bill. Remember that?
MR. BUCHANAN: That was in his first term, though.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, that's right. It was. Well, what does he --
MR. O'DONNELL: Nothing in the second term except judges.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's his legacy? There's no legacy in the second term.
MR. O'DONNELL: Nothing in the second term except judges.
MR. BUCHANAN: No Child Left Behind.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No Child --
MR. BUCHANAN: Two Supreme Court justices, as Lawrence said; very big. If he gets a third, he can pull his whole coalition together.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer to the question is we've seen the end of the immigration effort on the part of this administration.
Issue Two: Lugar Unloads. SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): (From videotape.) Our course in Iraq has lost contact with our vital national security interests in the Middle East and beyond. Our continuing absorption with military activities in Iraq is limiting our diplomatic assertiveness there and elsewhere in the world. The prospects that the current surge strategy will succeed in the way originally envisioned by the president are very limited.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, ranking member of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and he's a rock-solid red-state Republican. Lugar has been in the Senate since 1977, 30 years. In that time, he has become a widely respected authority on foreign policy, most notably as the architect and enforcer of America's program to disarm the Soviet Union's nuclear programs after the fall of communism.
Earlier, Lugar had been a public backer of President Bush's Iraq strategy. Not anymore. Lugar sent an unmistakable message to Bush on Monday night on the Senate floor.
SEN. LUGAR: (From videotape.) The costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Then Lugar made the point more emphatically, saying this: "A course change should happen now, while there is still some possibility of constructing a sustainable bipartisan strategy in Iraq. If the president waits until the presidential election campaign is in full swing, the intensity of confrontation on Iraq is likely to limit U.S. options."
Question: Is Lugar's fundamental position right that we should change course, and change it now? I ask you, Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: Absolutely. And this is a significant break in the Republican fire wall on Capitol Hill. And the point that he makes, that the purpose of the surge was to allow the Iraqi government to function and make the political compromises they have been unable to, maybe even unwilling to. And so I think the fact that has come forward, followed quickly by a letter from Senator Voinovich of Ohio and Senator Warner of Virginia backing him up, that basically --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Warner on board on this?
MS. CLIFT: It's a message to the White House. "Do not come up here in September and say, 'Well, we see some signs of success. We need more time.' Time is up."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know Lugar well.
MR. BUCHANAN: I know Senator Lugar. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know Senator Lugar well. Are you surprised at this action he took?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, I think he's been something of a skeptic on the war.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But he's a loyalist to --
MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, yeah, he's very loyal. Look, his analysis, I think, is very close to the truth, very close to the mark. I think his proposals are probably what may be coming. Where I disagree with Senator Lugar is this. Look, if 150,000 Americans cannot succeed in doing all these things -- maintaining our position in the Middle East, the rest of it -- how can 50,000 do it?
It's when these folks make their recommendations and say, "All will we be well if we draw down these combat brigades." We've got to look at this thing in the face. We are risking a possible defeat and debacle.
MS. CLIFT: Nobody is saying, "All is well." They're just saying, "Take the American troops out of the middle of the sectarian civil war and put them in covered bases."
MR. BLANKLEY: Pat makes a very strong case. It's half of the argument that people like me have been making, which is, as bad as this mess is, what's worse in the future? And reducing our strength doesn't increase in the future our ability to manage what could be a catastrophe.
And that's what Lugar doesn't come to terms with.
I agree this is bad news for the president. I think he is -- this is a signal that other Republicans will follow along in September, not now. I don't think it matters, because Bush doesn't need the Congress until the money runs out in October. But, yeah, this is politically bad news for the president. It's a plausible argument, but I still don't understand the end game. And Lugar hasn't explained how the end game works for us.
MS. CLIFT: That was a 45-minute speech.
MR. BLANKLEY: I know. I read most of it.
MS. CLIFT: He did talk about -- he did explain an end game.
MR. BLANKLEY: No. He talked about the goals --
MS. CLIFT: It's things you don't like. It's diplomacy.
MR. BLANKLEY: That's so stupid, Eleanor, to say I don't like diplomacy.
MS. CLIFT: No, diplomacy is not stupid.
MR. BLANKLEY: That is the most stupid statement you've made in quite a while.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this a turning point? Do you think this is a turning point?
MS. CLIFT: I think it's a turning point, definitely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, the human toll: U.S. military dead in Iraq, 3,577; almost one-third 21 years of age and under, more than one-half 24 years of age and under.
Exit question: Will Bush heed Lugar's counsel, yes or no? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: I do believe the president of the United States is going to start drawing down American forces before the new year, because I think he realizes you keep 150,000 in there, which he may be able to do, and his party will be wiped out and the Democrats will pull out.
MS. CLIFT: The kind of casualties that we're taking this month in particular -- we're losing about a battalion a month -- it is not sustainable.
MR. BLANKLEY: We're not losing a battalion a month.
MS. CLIFT: In terms of dead and injured, I heard General McCaffrey say that.
MR. BLANKLEY: Not serious injuries. That's a huge number.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, you separate serious injuries from minor injuries?
MR. BLANKLEY: It included three categories of death, serious injury and minor. That's correct, but not --
MS. CLIFT: That's correct. And that's plenty.
MR. BLANKLEY: -- but not of major injuries and deaths.
MS. CLIFT: That is unsustainable for the U.S. Army.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're running out now.
MR. BLANKLEY: Don't misrepresent the numbers.
MS. CLIFT: I didn't misrepresent it. I quoted him accurately.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the answer to the question?
MR. BLANKLEY: What's the question? (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the question?
MR. BUCHANAN: The question: Will Lugar's policy be adopted by Bush?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will Lugar's comments be adopted by the administration?
MR. BLANKLEY: No. No, they won't. But the problem for the president comes in the spring, when there won't be enough forces to cycle through. He's either going to have to extend the time they're there or he's going to have to pull some troops back in the springtime.
MR. O'DONNELL: Lugar is a turning point. There will be more to follow. I disagree with Pat. I don't think we're going to see Bush aiming toward a drawdown of troops as the election approaches. I made that prediction before the last presidential election of 2004. I'm not going to make it again. I don't think this president is movable on this subject.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, the president will not follow Senator Lugar's views. And secondly, the Congress will have to cut off funds, and it will.
Issue Three: Supremes Rule.
TED SHAW (NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund): (From videotape.) What the court did today is unfortunate. This is not a good day for our country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The U.S. Supreme Court this week ruled that race alone could not be used to determine where children go to school. The ruling will affect millions of American pupils. What is in question is, quote-unquote, "racial balancing," a practice the high court found unconstitutional.
With America's schools still significantly segregated, racial balancing is a tool used by thousands of school districts seeking greater integration. That practice is objectionable to many parents.
CRYSTAL MEREDITH (Louisville parent): (From videotape.) We were told that he could not leave the school that he was at because of his race.
KATHLEEN BLOSE (Seattle parent): (From videotape.) This is the United States of America. It shouldn't matter what your skin color is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The group of largely white parents who filed the suit had the support of the court's five conservatives -- Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Kennedy.
Justice Kennedy also wrote separately that districts could take race into account as, quote, "one component of that diversity, but other demographic factors should also be considered."
Then Justice Kennedy summed up with great lucidity the opinion of the majority in the court. Quote: "What the government is not permitted to do, absent a showing of necessity not made here, is to classify every student on the basis of race and to assign each of them to schools based on that classification."
Question: Did the majority make the right decision? I ask you, Tony Blankley.
MR. BLANKLEY: Obviously I think they did. Now --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean, obviously? MS. CLIFT: Because he's a conservative.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, you're a predictable right winger.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, because ever since Reagan, who I had the honor of working for, made the point that we should not discriminate on the basis of race one way or the other, I think most conservatives and most Americans have agreed that using race as a sole criteria for action is immoral, and it continues to be immoral. And finally the Supreme Court has lined up with morality on this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: This takes us back to the Brown decision, which means no discrimination based on race. And none means none, John -- not against whites or for whites or blacks. Remove the whole consideration from the assignment of children to public schools.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: And what happens to that? More resegregation. I mean, I think this ruling is a travesty. And the fact that Stephen Breyer read his dissent from the bench, again, shows how angry the liberals are on this court because of the sharp right turn that this court is taking.
MR. O'DONNELL: One of the problems with the majority opinion is that it talked about the school districts assigning each child on the basis of race. In fact, in those districts, most of the children had assignments that had nothing to do with their race.
MR. BUCHANAN: But you're not allowed to use --
MR. O'DONNELL: It was only a couple of --
MR. BUCHANAN: You're not allowed to take a kid's race against his parents' wishes and assign him to a school, Lawrence.
MS. CLIFT: But you can take all other kinds of factors.
MR. O'DONNELL: Jack Greenberg argued the Brown case in the Supreme Court. He's a Columbia Law School professor now. He thinks this decision was preposterous, and he's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: Back to Bloomberg.
Mayor of New York Mike Bloomberg may run for U.S. president as an independent. The political consequences of that option are more in focus this week. Mayor Bloomberg, by his social policy, is clearly seen to be that of a Democratic liberal. Bloomberg is pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-gay rights, anti-Iraq and pro-immigration.
That being the case, Bloomberg will draw from the same well as Hillary. So if Hillary gains the Democratic nomination, she would find it very hard to win the general election. Bloomberg will be in the race, and Bloomberg will do to her what independent Ralph Nader in 2000 did to Al Gore; namely, take a decisive chunk from the Democratic candidate.
Lawrence O'Donnell, a committed champion of Hillary, what can Hillary do now to shield herself from the fatal damage that Mike Bloomberg could inflict on her?
MR. O'DONNELL: I'm a friend of all Democrats, not just Hillary. Listen -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you trying to ease out of the Hillary commitment?
MR. O'DONNELL: Hillary is not the one who has a problem with Bloomberg. Rudy Giuliani's candidacy, if he's the nominee, would be destroyed by Bloomberg. Bloomberg's done a better job as mayor. And Giuliani also would lose support on the right, and then he'd have nothing left. And Bloomberg, by the way, could win the thing if he gets in there in a three-way race. He's no Nader.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Republicans could vote for Giuliani and take the wind out of Bloomberg's sails.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, Bloomberg will not win a single state. He does put New York State --
MR. O'DONNELL: Bloomberg can win New York. Bloomberg can win California.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're not talking about that.
MR. BUCHANAN: You think he's going to beat Hillary in New York State? Are you kidding? He'll draw off a million or 2 million votes. He'll cede the state to the Republicans.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to know -- but my question is, what is the story on Hillary in this? How does she evolve if Bloomberg gets in the race in July of next year?
MR. BUCHANAN: She can't debate. She cannot have him in the debate with her and with the Republican because Bloomberg will kill her. She will not debate if he's in the debate.
MS. CLIFT: I have enough confidence in Michael Bloomberg that if he thinks he's going to be a spoiler and a Ralph Nader, he will not get into the race. That is not his purpose.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know it's not his purpose.
MS. CLIFT: Well, and it's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But it's a de facto occurrence.
MS. CLIFT: No, it's not, because --
MR. O'DONNELL: No, he can win.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: -- the party that's cracking up is the Republican Party.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where are you hearing that? MR. O'DONNELL: Bloomberg can win.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He can enter the race and win the election?
MR. O'DONNELL: Look at the electoral map. Bloomberg can win California.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's hearing it up in New York, John.
MR. O'DONNELL: He can win New Jersey. He can win New York. He can win all sorts of states --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Against the Democratic candidate?
MR. O'DONNELL: -- that these other third-party candidates never could.
MR. BLANKLEY: Look, the thing you want to pay attention to in a third-party race is not necessarily the votes they get, but how they change the dynamic of a campaign. Perot didn't take enough votes away to make a difference, but he changed the dynamic to the benefit of Clinton.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --
MR. BLANKLEY: And let me just finish the thought. Bloomberg spending a $1 billion could change the dynamic in ways we can't imagine.
MR. O'DONNELL: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's incumbent upon Hillary to do something to shield herself from Bloomberg? And, if so, what is it? Or do you need help? Lawrence O'Donnell?
MR. O'DONNELL: She doesn't have to do anything now. Bloomberg has to make his decision. What she needs to do now is run the best possible campaign she can run so that her numbers --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But she must be distracted by Bloomberg.
MR. O'DONNELL: She just needs to keep her numbers up so that they intimidate Bloomberg.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But she knows that he could inflict fatal damage on her if he enters the race, the same way that Nader did.
MS. CLIFT: Hillary Clinton is a pro.
MR. O'DONNELL: Giuliani is in a panic over Bloomberg.
MS. CLIFT: Hillary -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who?
MR. O'DONNELL: Giuliani is in a panic over Bloomberg.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forget Giuliani. Let's think about Hillary.
MR. BUCHANAN: Giuliani isn't going to be the nominee.
MS. CLIFT: Hillary Clinton is a pro, and she knows there are a lot more twists and turns before Michael Bloomberg raises his hand.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why can't Hillary preempt Bloomberg?
MR. BUCHANAN: Romney or --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why couldn't she put Bloomberg on her ticket?
MR. BUCHANAN: Another guy from New York? You'd lose the electoral votes of New York.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would Bloomberg run as vice president?
MR. BUCHANAN: You'd lose the electoral votes of New York if you got two from the same state, John. This would elect Romney or it would elect Fred Thompson.
I think, with regard to Rudy, I think that would be a mess, because I don't think Rudy --
MS. CLIFT: I love the way --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The fog is not clearing here. The fog is not clearing. What does Hillary do?
MS. CLIFT: She pays no attention to Pat Buchanan, for starters. And second, I love the way everybody has a scenario that works out so that their side wins. And now there's a fly on Lawrence's head -- (laughs) -- to complete the picture.
MR. BLANKLEY: It's Bloomberg, the fly in the ointment (Laughs).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Will Bloomberg, in 2008, be the political equivalent of Ralph Nader in '00, a spoiler for the Democrats? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: If he runs, he could finish off the Democrats.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: He doesn't get into the race if that's what it looks like. And he's too smart. He'll make the right assessment.
MR. BLANKLEY: He has an extraordinarily high regard for himself. He might get in thinking he can win, and it could adversely affect the Democrats.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You sound as though you don't care for his candidacy.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I would never vote for him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No conservative would vote for him.
MR. BLANKLEY: He's a nanny stater. I don't like nanny staters.
MR. BUCHANAN: No conservative would vote for him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you sure of that? MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.
MR. BLANKLEY: He's against trans fats, smoking.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's an extremely good and successful administrator. He has this program for New York that he brought forth a few months ago.
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, he's against the burger Whopper, he's against Winchester rifles and he's against Winston cigarettes.
MR. O'DONNELL: Bloomberg is no Ross Perot.
MS. CLIFT: My kind of guy. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --
MR. O'DONNELL: Bloomberg is no Ross Perot. He's much better than Perot. Perot got 19 percent. Bill Clinton won the presidency in a three-way race at 43 percent. Bloomberg doesn't have to get 50 --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --
MR. O'DONNELL: -- he can win with 40 percent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the Democrats are figuring out how to destroy Bloomberg?
MR. O'DONNELL: They will do that if it comes to it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How will they do that? How will they do that --
MR. O'DONNELL: Well, they'll try, but it will not work.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- when he's got $5 billion?
MR. O'DONNELL: It won't work. He'll be impervious.
MR. BLANKLEY: He's got more than $5 billion.
MR. O'DONNELL: He's impervious to attack.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's impervious. You mean they can't reach him?
MR. O'DONNELL: He's not going to duck. He's not going to hide on the issues. And there's no horrible background story to try to tell about him.
Issue Five: Kennebunkport Keno.
The summit between Vladimir Putin and George Bush is planned for this Sunday and Monday at Mr. Bush's family retreat in Kennebunkport. Both protagonists, Putin and Bush, appear to be in uncompromising moods. Putin has not budged an inch. He still opposes Mr. Bush's call for independence for Kosovo, the ethnically Albanian province of Serbia. Also Putin still plans to pull out of the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe. This is because Mr. Bush is in the process of installing U.S. missile defense bases in Poland and in the Czech Republic.
Question: Will Bush and Putin see eye to eye in Kennebunkport? I ask you, Tony. And I'm particularly interested in Kosovo. Do you think that Bush will continue to maintain his position of wanting independence for Kosovo --
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I think that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- when Putin does not?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I think, unfortunately, that that is not a zone where they're going to see eye to eye. And while I don't think you can say they're going to see eye to eye, I think this is an opportunity for Putin to take a step back from his very aggressive negative comments about America and Bush. And for good practical reasons, I think he will.
It's not going to be a lovely moment for the two of them, but I think it's going to be a little less harsh than we've seen before, because a lot of what Putin has been saying has been for domestic consumption in Russia, and I think that he senses he doesn't want to completely go backwards away, because we have common interests in fighting terrorism.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will Bush give up the missile defense system, the U.S. defense system, in Poland and the Czech Republic?
MS. CLIFT: No. No. But the good news is Papa Bush is there, the senior Bush is there, and he does -- he's hosting this meeting. And it's the first time in six-and-a-half years that Junior has deigned to call upon his father. And, boy, do we need him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you get this meeting at all, Pat? Is this a sham, or what is it?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, I think the atmospherics -- I think Tony's right. The atmospherics will improve. The relations will improve. But in substance, Putin will stand by Kosovo and he will denounce that anti-missile system.
MR. O'DONNELL: This is just standard relationship maintenance. There's not any big announcement that's going to come out of this meeting.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat. MR. BUCHANAN: Amnesty's dead, John. And the pope restores the Latin mass. It doesn't get any better than that. It happens this month.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a surprise that Benedict XVI did that? No surprise to you.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's coming. It hasn't happened yet.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know. But is it any surprise that he's doing that? No.
MS. CLIFT: The Supreme Court overturning an element of campaign finance reform -- you won't want to watch television around November '08, all the negative ads.
MR. BLANKLEY: As I mentioned earlier, I think President Bush will support a border-security-only bill, and it will pass.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've got about five seconds.
MR. O'DONNELL: Congress will not pass the so-called Blackstone tax.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Out of time. Bye-bye.