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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; MARIA BARTIROMO, CNBC TAPED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 3, 2007 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF AUGUST 4-5, 2007

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Infrastructure crack-up.

BRIDGE COLLAPSE WITNESS: (From videotape.) People were stunned, were crying, people were scared. I don't know how this could happen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lines of cars waiting in rush hour traffic on a Minneapolis bridge were plunged into the Mississippi River after the 40-year-old, eight-lane bridge collapsed this week. This tragedy follows upon the steam eruption three weeks ago in downtown Manhattan, where an 83-year-old, 24-foot-wide pipe exploded. Many were injured and one died, and the disruption was reminiscent of 9/11. New Yorkers were fearful that the explosion was another terrorist attack. These dramatic breakdowns are only two of the countless ones this country's overall infrastructure is experiencing. Roads, bridges, levees, power grids, water systems in decay.

RAE ZIMMERMAN (NYU Public Administration): (From videotape.) There are hundreds of breaks and ruptures, in some cases thousands, per year, but they're not as visible.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Brooklyn Bridge is 124 years old. Its original travelers were not cars, they were horses and buggies. Chicago's "L" system was created while Grover Cleveland was in charge. Elvis was king when the electrical grid was rigged. Shoddy transformers trigger blackouts. Failed water levees in New Orleans lead to disaster. Clogged sewers stench cities. Power grids are crashing. One hundred twenty-three water main breaks in San Diego alone. On and on. The nation is giving way to its old age. The U.S. population is expected to grow by 100 million by 2060. So the future prospects right now look worse than now.

Question: Will the collapse of the Minneapolis bridge have a catalytic effect on the American people? Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: That I don't know. But I do believe it is a metaphor for America, John. We are not a building, investing nation the way we were in 1956 when Ike put the tax on all gallons of gasoline, 4 cents, and built the greatest highway system since Rome.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ike.

MR. BUCHANAN: Ike did. We no longer -- look, we tear down dams. We no longer build oil refineries. We no longer -- we -- drill for oil off the coast of our own country. We can't rebuild New Orleans. All of these things -- we haven't had a nuclear power plant since Three Mile Island. All of these things are signs of a nation that really is not the building, dynamic nation we were in the '30s, with Grand Coulee and Hoover Dam, or in the '50s with Ike, John. And I think it's a real problem for America. But it's something that has to do with attitude of the American people as much as anything.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, do you think that the bridge collapse is emblematic, as Pat thinks, of America today?

MS. CLIFT: Not drilling in an Alaska natural preserve and not building a nuclear power plant are hardly a metaphor for the decline of America. This is an infrastructure problem. It is not sexy to rebuild infrastructure.

I think after the initial shock that this happened, and the sorrow, people are going to be angry. They're going to say, you know, where are the investments in maintaining the country? And increased traffic, increased population, the infrastructure can't handle it, and they're going to say, where is all the money going? It's going to Iraq. And they're going to say it's going to corrupt earmarks. The fact that Senator Stevens' problems, Alaska senator, his problems were in the news this week, he's the master of the earmarks. Remember the famous "Bridge to Nowhere." That was a quarter-million dollars. That money could have been better spent elsewhere.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a quarter of a billion.

MS. CLIFT: Quarter of a billion.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On money, okay, show me the money. That's $1.6 trillion. Why can't the United States invest the $1.6 trillion to revive what was once the world's model infrastructure?

Where's all the money going?

Well, there's Iraq and its bottomless money pit, probably more than $1 trillion before next year's election.

Then there's the administration's announcement this week of a proposed $63 billion in military agreements to the Middle East. This new plan, by the way, relies on strategies Condoleezza Rice said in 2005 were not a way to stabilize the Middle East.

Even more costly, this Middle East total immersion we are currently going through has drained focus from Asia. Ms. Rice is the first secretary of State not to attend the ASEAN forum three times. ASEAN is comprised of 26 countries, including China, Japan and Russia and the U.S., and promotes security, trade and diplomacy throughout the Asia Pacific region.

Question: Besides Iraq, and besides health care, do '08 presidential candidates need an infrastructure plan, or can they get away with saying that this is a state and local problem?

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I -- let me just -- I'll answer that, but first of all, your claim that this is somehow Bush's fault is, if I could use the phrase, "a bridge too far."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, where did you pick that up?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, you said -- you were talking about the cost of the war. This was a bridge that was identified as needing (sic) structural problems in 1990, before the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was a war of choice. It was a war of choice.

MR. BLANKLEY: Wait, let me finish. Wait a second. It was identified as problem in 1990, before Father Bush had the first war, before eight years of Clinton, which did nothing to fix this bridge. In fact, there were 70,000 bridges like this one. This is the freak that falls down. I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eight years -- almost eight years have transpired in his presidency. Has anything been done about the infrastructure?

MR. BLANKLEY: Has anything been done? Of course it's being done out of the trust fund, which is funded exclusively by 18.3 cent tax -- federal tax on gasoline. You cannot do federal construction and fixing of roads and bridges out of the general revenue. You have to do it out of the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five cents a gallon on -- tax on gasoline?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no -- (off mike).

MR. BLANKLEY: Eighteen-point-three cents.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Shall we zip for another 5 cents in --

MR. BLANKLEY: And so it's Congress's fault. Through the last decades they've underfunded the trust fund.

But to try to -- pick your favorite program you don't like, which happens to be national defense -- why not cancel the whole Pentagon, $750 billion? You could --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I am not against national defense.

MR. BLANKLEY: You can then fix all of this in two years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I am against war such as the one in Iraq.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you speak to this? And welcome, Maria.

MS. BARTIROMO: Thanks so much.

You know, I don't think it's an either/or. I think the money has to be spent in both places.

Clearly, something should have been done to approach our infrastructure in the past eight years. I don't -- I disagree that it's not sexy. I think it is sexy. I think business is investing in infrastructure, not only in the United States but around the world, China --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What impact would -- if $1.7 trillion came forward to invest in infrastructure, what do you see that doing to the economy?

MS. BARTIROMO: Huge. First of all, it would create an enormous amount of jobs -- something that we need desperately right now. I think we need to put in a multi-year program in place to address all of the issues in that piece -- the aging of the bridges, tunnels and highways. And in doing so, not only does it fix the infrastructure of this country, but it also creates jobs for the little guy.

MR. BUCHANAN: But Maria, the problem, Maria, exists -- MS. CLIFT: I agree with you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: But the fact that this bridge was declared insufficient -- structurally deficient 17 years ago and nobody reacted, and a third of the bridges in the country are declared structurally deficient --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Seventy-three thousand.

MS. CLIFT: -- it reminds me of the "bin Laden determined to strike inside the U.S." Nobody took that seriously, either, until it happened.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right, but --

MS. CLIFT: Now there's going to be a sense of urgency about this.

MS. BARTIROMO: (Inaudible) -- absolutely.

MR. BUCHANAN: But okay, Maria, here's the problem.

You mentioned China. One in four cranes working in the world today said to be working in Shanghai. They are building infrastructure hand over fist. Why? They've got $1.2 trillion in cash reserves because of their trade surpluses at the expense of the United States, which sends out $2 billion a day to fund consumption here because of these insane trade deals. That is the issue that's coming, John. It is economic nationalism all over the place, over building the infrastructure, bringing the jobs home, bringing the factories home --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there's something else, Pat, and this feeds right into your bag, and that is immigration. We have a number of immigrants coming every year; 100 million new Americans will be in this country by, what, 2050, I believe.

MR. BUCHANAN: 2050. It may be 120 million. We'll have 420 million in this country --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, that's wear and tear -- it's on emergency rooms, it's on roads, it's on bridges, it's -- and so forth.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's on the environment, it's on everything, and it's got to do with whether or not we build a security fence which they can't build either.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you surprised that the American government, the federal government, did not anticipate with the waves of immigrants that have been coming into our country and joining this great society --

MR. BUCHANAN: We are no longer --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that -- that exacts wear and tear on the infrastructure?

MR. BUCHANAN: It is no -- it is no -- this is no longer a can-do government the way it was, like it or not, under FDR?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why? Why?

MR. BUCHANAN: Because the country was united in those days about what it ought to do. This is a confused country, and frankly -- and I wonder if -- you know, it's intimidating -- (cross talk).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think this country has lost its soul? Is that what you're saying? MS. CLIFT: It's not --

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's lost its grip.

MS. CLIFT: The environmental lobby finally has come to the floor, and that is a good thing. And the fact that we have an election that we're building up to, we're going to have all of these candidates are going to have to come out there, and the one with the vision and the can-do quality is the one who's going to get elected.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, let's --

MS. CLIFT: This country still has plenty of problems.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- let's put this in a little bit -- let's -- put this in a --

MS. CLIFT: These problems can be solved.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, Tony, go ahead.

MR. BLANKLEY: (Off mike) -- put this in a little bit perspective.

We've spent an awful lot of money, not as much as perhaps we should, on road construction. The earmarks -- you know, everybody -- every congressmen's got a brother-in-law with a construction company, you know, building roads. We don't do enough, I agree with Pat over all, but the idea that we're not -- we're investing billions every year building roads --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think you're getting complacent?

MR. BLANKLEY: I'm never complacent.

MS. CLIFT: In the District of Columbia alone they need $2.5 billion -- excuse me --

MR. BLANKLEY: There's always more needed --

MS. CLIFT: -- and address -- (off mike) --

MR. BLANKLEY: -- but we aren't just buying hamburgers --

MS. CLIFT: -- excuse me! -- to address the bridges that are structurally deficient. Where is the district going to get that kind of money?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you feel better, Eleanor, after hearing Tony? Don't you feel better?

MS. CLIFT: I don't feel better at all. (Laughs.) MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Will the Minneapolis bridge disaster have the effect of making America more isolationist, meaning less willing to spend money on foreign policy such as Tony now endorses on this program, more demanding on domestic spending, in other words? Yes or no?

Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, somewhat. But the big thing that's going to kill the empire is the unfunded liabilities in Social Security and Medicare. They're going to grow so much of the federal budget there ain't going to be a left left to fight all these wars.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: ?Will that also? require us to become isolationist --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, listen, it --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to attend to our own problems.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's already done it to Europe. Look at Europe!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I think a reordering of American priorities has to be done, but all of the candidates are going to be -- they're internationalists, they're talking about fighting terrorism, taking the war to where the enemy is. I don't think we're going to shrink back between -- into our borders.

But what disturbs me is the anti-immigrant language that immediately crops up. Somehow it's the addition of immigrants that causes the wear and tear --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that includes legal immigrants, too. It includes all the influx --

MS. CLIFT: Well, there's a natural growth in the population.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm not saying we're against that, but we haven't prepared for it. We haven't worked with it.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me answer your question. This issue is going to disappear within weeks. As soon as the most dramatic part of the clean up starts and the cable news stops covering it --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is a convention being held in Minneapolis.

MR. BLANKLEY: I know -- I understand -- the Republican convention. And I've got a hotel, and hopefully I'll be able to drive to it. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There you are!

MR. BLANKLEY: But the fact is that this is not -- Eleanor's right. It's not a sexy issue. You're going to have to raise money. The Democrats are on a PAYGO basis now, so every dollar spent on a bridge is a dollar you have to raise taxes or cut an entitlement benefit. It can't be done.

MS. BARITROMO: No, I disagree.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maria.

MS. BARITROMO: I disagree. I think that this issue is not going to go away. I think this issue of infrastructure is here, and it is a global issue. I think it's not either/or. I've said it before, I'll say it again, I think that there has to be money put toward infrastructure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why do you call it a global issue? It's affecting all people in this country?

MS. BARITROMO: Because I think infrastructure is a global issue. As I mentioned earlier, it's not just China, it's India as well.

And by the way, you mentioned all the cranes in China --

MR. BUCHANAN: We should be worrying --

MS. BARITROMO: -- some of those cranes are American company cranes. So American companies --

MR. BUCHANAN: They're building China.

MS. BARITROMO: -- are benefitting from --

MR. BUCHANAN: American companies are building China.

MS. BARITROMO: -- global economic expansion.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Off mike) -- they are.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The question -- the question is: When you travel abroad, don't you admire the roads, for example, in Spain better than the roads in the United States? What's happened to I-95?

MS. BARITROMO: Yeah, I think it's disgusting that the wealthiest nation in the world has a bridge collapse in the Mississippi River, and the roads look like they do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's true. And there are 73,000 --

MS. BARITROMO: This is a big issue. That's why it's not going away. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and 73,000 are as bad or worse.

When we come back --

MR. BUCHANAN: But you -- I mean the dollar is sinking like a stone.

MS. BARITROMO: It doesn't matter.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we --

MR. BUCHANAN: It doesn't matter?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we come back: Is the world headed for a global crash?

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here we go. Issue two: U.S. economic pulse. What single issue is most important to you in deciding how you will vote in next year's presidential race? Answer: 20 percent say the Iraq war. It will dominantly determine my vote, down from 34 percent one month ago.

Seventeen percent say the economy, up from 8 percent one month ago. So the economy is bloating and the Iraq war receding as a voting determinant. Well, what is the state of the economy? Here are the vital signs: Consumer confidence -- 112, a six-year high; housing market way down; gasoline prices moderately down but still high; oil up, way up; futures hit a record $78 a barrel this week; unemployment a very steady 4.5 percent; core inflation, steady at just under 2 percent; interest rates steady at 5 1/4 percent; stock market up and down, a roller coaster; Gross Domestic Product, 2nd quarter, significantly up -- 3.4 percent.

The unemployment rate has been steady at 4.5 percent, but in July it rose by 1/10th of 1 percent. Maria, what jumps off that list at you?

MS. BARTIROMO: I think employment is strong. I think you have to remember the positives. However, the last two weeks have been a shaky stock market. Friday was a nightmare. The last four minutes of trading, the market sold off. It was down 150 points in the last three minutes. It sold off an additional 130 points, reaching down almost --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why the big (fall ?)?

MS. BARTIROMO: Why? Volatility. People are worried about the housing market. They are worried about the subprime issues, Bear Stearns holding these sophisticated, packaged loans, and now those hedge funds are worthless. People are worried that the banks and the brokers are going to be left holding the bag of these loans that people can no longer pay.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about foreclosures?

MS. BARTIROMO: Foreclosures are happening, and that's the issue. I am not as worried as some people that the foreclosure situation and the housing slowdown will spill over into the broader economy and cause us a recession. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the credit crunch?

MS. BARTIROMO: The credit crunch is the fundamental underpinnings of the weakness in the market, because credit now is tighter. Companies are not going to be able to do the deals, private (equity ?) are not going to be able to do the deals that they were doing in the preceding year because easy money was all over the place, but that was a bubble. We knew that couldn't last. Now we're coming back down to Earth.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is August. Are we headed for a recession before January?

MS. BARTIROMO: I don't think so.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: After January? Before June?

MS. BARTIROMO: I think you have to remember the positives and the redeeming qualities of this economy -- number one, that global economic expansion is alive and well, China growing 11 percent, India, Latin America, Europe -- American companies benefit from that. I also ask you to remember and remind you of corporate balance sheets -- stronger than they ever have been.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Off mike.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold that, Pat. Yeah, I'm almost finished here.

What about -- is China going to stay that way or is China showing any impact from or effects from what's happening in the United States?

MS. BARTIROMO: The government in China doesn't want it to stay that way. They're trying to rein things in. But give me a break, going from 11 percent to 8 percent -- is that a big deal? How much slower can it get? I mean --

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, John, the Chinese economy is growing at 12 percent a year. They are holding down the value of their currency, they're sucking in technology, jobs, capital, everything. They're the fourth economy in the world; they'll be third by the end of this year, passing Germany. They are the country of the future. And because we -- you know, we are a total consumer society in a way we never were before. Two-thirds of the American economy is based on consumption. We're a debtor nation. Corporations are in debt. Government's in debt.

Everybody's in debt. The country's in debt.

MS. CLIFT: Well, yeah, but a lot of people --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we in debt to China?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. China's got $1.2 trillion. You know what they're doing with it? They're putting it into sovereign wealth funds, which are investment funds, which will buy up the best companies in the United States.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want --

MS. BARTIROMO: That's the positive. That's the positive -- the sovereign funds.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: It's positive they're going to buy up our defense industry?

MS. BARTIROMO: No, but the sovereign funds --

MR. BUCHANAN: You've been hanging around with Kudlow too long.

MS. BARTIROMO: The sovereign funds are creating an enormous amount of liquidity, and that is going to support this market. It's not just China.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Arabs have got it, and the Chinese --

(Cross talk.)

MS. BARTIROMO: It's the Middle East. You have the oil-rich nations.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MS. BARTIROMO: That's going to be a positive. Sovereign funds are a positive.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there a downside to it? Is there a downside to liquidity? MS. BARTIROMO: Well, no, you want to be able to get in and out quickly. The liquidity --

MS. CLIFT: Welcome to the financial channel! (Laughter.) But to bring it back to the here and now, The Wall Street Journal did a poll that shows that a majority of American people think the country's already in recession or is soon to be in recession. And middle-class anxiety is very real.

MR. BLANKLEY: But that's --

MS. CLIFT: And it is driving a populist sentiment within the --

MR. BLANKLEY: That's --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why will that change? Why will that change for the better, as she thinks?

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me get a word -- let me --

MS. CLIFT: I don't know that that will change for the better.

MS. BARTIROMO: It's all about the consumer. We have to watch the consumer.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, let me get a --

MS. BARTIROMO: That's what's -- the consumer rolled over in housing.

MS. CLIFT: People -- yeah. Yeah.

MS. BARTIROMO: If the consumer rolls over in terms of being unable to pay their credit cards, being unable to pay their car loans, pulling in consumption, then I'll start talking about recession. But before that, I don't want to talk about it.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which is --

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, let me get -- let me get a word --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't see that happening now?

MS. BARTIROMO: No. It's not happening yet.

MR. BLANKLEY: Can I get a word in?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. MR. BLANKLEY: The American public has not thought the economy was positive since September 11th, 2001. Despite the fact that we're at the tail end of a mature recovery, the public has never thought the economy was going well.

MS. CLIFT: The public is right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question.

MR. BLANKLEY: But Bernanke believes that we're going forward with a very strong economy.

MS. CLIFT: The public is right. The Fed meets Tuesday.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. That brings us to Bernanke. Exit -- hold on. Exit question. Federal (Reserve) Chairman Bernanke testified this week that the overall growth rate for the U.S. economy this year will be around 3-3/4 percent. Is he on target?

Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, he's not. It was 0.6 percent in the first quarter. It would have to go far higher than it is right now to get there --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor. Eleanor, quickly.

MS. CLIFT: Overly rosy. Overly rosy. People are worried about paying for their health care. They're losing their pensions. They don't know how to pay for college. The -- regular people --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There you are. We're back to rosy scenario.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I would bet on Bernanke's judgment over the judgment of non-economists.

MS. BARTIROMO: I agree with Pat on this. We're looking at about 2, 2-1/2 percent growth for the economy in 2007. We've got to have a real major boom in the next six months to get to 3-1/4 percent by the end of the year.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two percent growth rate.

Issue three: General Obama's strike plan.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL, presidential candidate): (From videotape.) There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets, and President Musharraf will not act, we will.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Barack Obama says he would not hesitate to order U.S. military strikes against al Qaeda targets on Pakistani soil, and he would do so with or without the permission of General Pervez Musharraf, the military ruler of Pakistan.

Question: Was this an Obama gaffe, or was this Obama wisdom?

Tony Blankley.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it was a gaffe for him to say it. As a prospective president of the United States, he couldn't -- he shouldn't possibly have said that.

As a policy, we already probably have some Special Forces across the border. This is a much more ambiguous topic. But he made a mistake in being so explicit about it.

But this isn't the first time. With the exception of Iraq -- he gave a speech in Chicago at the Foreign Relations Council a month and a half ago that was very aggressive, very democracy-building --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean as hawkish as this was?

MR. BLANKLEY: Absolutely as hawkish. He has established a very tough, aggressive world posture.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does he come across to you as somewhat muddled? Is he a hawk? Is he a dove?

MS. BARTIROMO: You know, I think that's the right word. It is muddled. I think people can't figure it out. And on the one hand, people say, "Oh, you know, he's fresh. We like his ideas." On the other hand, he comes out sometimes and says things that are just muddled and people don't understand where he's going with it.

MS. CLIFT: I think people get him very clearly: that he is a new direction and they want to hear somebody who's willing to take the fight to the enemy, diplomatically --

MR. BUCHANAN: No, he's hurt himself --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat. We're going to give you more to feed on.

Okay. Obama says no nukes.

"I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance involving civilians. Let me scratch that. There's been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That's not on the table." Question: Was this an Obama gaffe, or was this Obama wisdom? I ask you, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama's in very serious trouble, John. One, he -- at the debate, as we all know, he got up and said, without preconditions, I would meet with Castro and all these people. Second --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's wrong with that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, secondly he's going to invade Pakistan without the permission of Musharraf and bring down the government. Now he's talking about nuclear weapons.

What he's doing is he's creating an uneasiness in the minds of people who nominate Democratic candidates, who are saying, the Republicans will eat this guy alive. He's stepping into every cow pie in the pasture. (Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: He's creating an uneasiness among the so-called experts, who -- most of whom said we should go into Iraq.

I think he connects with ordinary people very clearly. He didn't say he's going to invade Pakistan. He said he would act on actionable intelligence, which is the policy of this government and was the policy -- (cross talk).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, now, will you?

I'll tell you who he connected with. He connected with Hillary. Hillary pounces.

"Presidents should be very careful at all times in discussing the use or non-use of nuclear weapons. Presidents since the Cold War have used nuclear deterrents to keep the peace. And I don't believe that any president should make any blanket statements with respect to the use or non-use of nuclear weapon."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get this as an exit question, starting with Maria. Has Hillary struck a knockout blow because of the subject matter, namely the bomb?

MS. BARTIROMO: No, I think it's all politics, John, frankly. I think that they keep saying -- talking on both sides of the mouth, and they will continue to do so.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think it's a deadly blow. Do you, Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: This was a real rhetorical mistake. He really looked feeble and amateurish.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it deadly?

MR. BLANKLEY: Not deadly but damaging.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not the killing fields.

Yes.

MS. CLIFT: Not deadly, and each of them appeals to their own base -- Hillary, the more careful establishment and Obama, the insurgents. It's not deadly.

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama goes against his -- and he's an anti-war --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it deadly? Just answer the question.

MS. CLIFT: He's an insurgent.

MR. BUCHANAN: Crippling.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Crippling, I'll go with crippling. We'll be right back with predictions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction: Who lost the week?

Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Edwards and Obama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Unfortunately the people of St. Paul.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Painful to you.

MR. BLANKLEY: Obama and Edwards.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama and Edwards.

MS. BARTIROMO: Investors, because the market continues going down, but it will come back by the end of the year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama, bye-bye. (Laughter.) END.