THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR; CLARENCE PAGE, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE TAPED: FRIDAY, JANUARY 11, 2008 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JANUARY 12-13, 2008
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Hillary's Cry.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY) (Democratic presidential candidate): (From videotape.) It's not easy. It's not easy. And I couldn't do it if I just didn't, you know, passionately believe it was the right thing to do. You know, I have so many opportunities from this country. I just don't want to see us fall backwards, you know. (Applause.) So, you know, this is very personal for me. It's not just political. It's not just public. I see what's happening, and we have to reverse it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Was Hillary's interview the Archimedes lever that turned her political drama right side up? Pat Buchanan. MR. BUCHANAN: John, it certainly was. It was the Monday morning there. And when she appeared to have that emotional moment and to almost break down and cry, it was very human. It was played and replayed day in and day out and the following morning. And the mockery and the glee and the gloating of the people that wanted to see her defeated and the laughter at her, I think, caused the women of New Hampshire, the undecideds, who were enormous, to suddenly come out, really come to her rescue.
Frankly, it was the maternal instinct of the women of New Hampshire saying, "This is unfair and this is beating up on the girl," when she had an emotional moment. That cost Obama that election. It may have cost him the nomination.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you believe that?
MS. CLIFT: It was an iconic moment. And I think Hillary Clinton is one of those rare women in political life who does not have to prove she's tough enough. That's the challenge for most women. Her challenge is to show that she has a human side. And she did that there.
And then the reaction to it, mostly among the male commentariat, saying that this was manufactured emotion and that's suggesting weakness, it brings out the tribal impulses among women, because everybody can relate to that. And when she said she found her voice, I mean, that is the ultimate struggle for women collectively. And so I think, yes, it was an important moment, and I think it did swing the undecideds.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Monica.
Okay. Love Me Tender. At the Democrats' last debate, a local TV anchor, Scott Spradling, put this question to Hillary.
(Begin videotaped segment.)
SCOTT SPRADLING (WMUR-TV news anchor): What can you say to the voters of New Hampshire on this stage tonight who see your resume and like it but are hesitating on the likeability issue, where they seem to like Barack Obama more?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, that hurts my feelings. (Laughter.)
MR. SPRADLING: I'm sorry, Senator. I'm sorry.
SEN. CLINTON: But I'll try to go on. (Laughter.) He's very likable. I agree with that. I don't think I'm that bad.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL) (Democratic presidential candidate): You're likable enough, Hillary. SEN. CLINTON: Thank you so much. (Laughter.)
(End videotaped segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was there any snarl in Obama's reassurance to Hillary, do you think?
MS. CROWLEY: Well, I think that comment, in retrospect, hurt him, because I think at the time he was on this huge crest. He had just won Iowa. There was some pomposity to his carriage during that debate. And he saw an opening to try to appeal to the anti-Hillary vote, which John Edwards, by the way, continues to split. And he thought if he could rally that anti-Hillary vote and attract enough independents who really don't like her with a crack like that, they would come to him. And what we found was that a lot of independents went to John McCain and they didn't necessarily gravitate to Obama.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he was concentrating on the debate, and he was working on the cards at the same time. Would that account for his manner and saying that --
MS. CROWLEY: Look, I think by this point all of these candidates know that every second of every day they are on camera. There's a microphone close by. So I don't excuse it in that regard.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's go to the big enchilada, who is, of course, Hillary. What did you think of Hillary's performance?
MS. CROWLEY: Yes. Well, you know, she's like Glenn Close at the end of "Fatal Attraction." You think she's dead and then she sits bolt upright in the bathtub. (Laughter.) Look, I think that both Eleanor and Pat are correct when they say that the moment was probably authentic on her part, and she certainly leveraged it to her advantage.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No set-up question?
MS. CROWLEY: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No counterfeit there at all?
MS. CROWLEY: Well, look, I think she has been told to soften her approach. She's been told to wear softer colors. And I think she saw an opening where she could speak in the softer, Jackie Kennedyesque tones, and if an emotional moment came up, grab it. And she did.
But now she's turned the race essentially into an X versus Y, an X chromosome versus a Y chromosome race, where she is appealing constantly to women. She did again this weekend.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, I want to undercut the observations, rather silly observations, of Buchanan. Spradling again addresses Hillary with his polling data. "New Hampshire voters seem to believe that of those of you on the stage, you are the most experienced and the most electable. In terms of change, they see Senators Obama and Edwards as the agents of change."
Question to you: Will experience and electability rule on November the 4th?
MR. PAGE: No, I think the theme of change has already been really taking hold, including with Hillary Clinton, who this past week said, "Well" -- I can't remember the exact quote, but it was something to the effect of, "Well, I think having the first woman would be change in itself."
I think when she began to realize this has been an X-Y race all along, Monica, and she was doing her best to appear to be Thatcher- like, which is fine, but a lot of folks thought she was too stiff. And so when she did show emotion and was less robo-candidate, people began to like her. She has got a lovely smile, and she showed it.
I think Barack Obama was just caught at a bad moment, because he was looking down at his notes. And while he was saying, "Oh, Hillary, you are likable enough," he didn't raise his eyes and actually look at her. That would have made a big difference in the way that was perceived on television.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Experience and electability are what turned those women behind Hillary, not the nonsense that --
MR. PAGE: There's one thing you haven't mentioned, before Eleanor gets to it, and that is -- (laughs) -- I think the moment that turned a lot of women on to circling the wagons around Hillary was when that bozo stood up with that "Iron My Shirt" sign at that one town hall meeting, disrupting it. I mean, what an idiot. That in itself just was obviously Hillary's moment.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But are you doing an injustice, with Buchanan, to the intelligence of women?
MR. PAGE: I would never be unjust to Buchanan. What are you talking about? (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They want experience and they want --
MR. PAGE: You know something, John? They want experience --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- electability.
MS. CLIFT: If it's about electability, Barack Obama has at least as much claim, because he does appeal to independents. And it's a bigger risk with Barack Obama because you don't know exactly how he's going to perform. We know Hillary better.
But, look, Democrats like both these candidates. They're really struggling to decide. And it depends how you define the presidency. Hillary would manage the presidency well. She's not as inspiring.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me bring it back to the point. The point is whether or not genes or chemistry, this feminine chemistry that you're both talking about, is what did it, what changed their minds with the women, or whether it was a cool analysis of her electability and her experience.
MS. CROWLEY: But, John, there's a split between women in Iowa and women in New Hampshire. There's this pre- and post-Hillary cry. And I do agree; I think there was something going on where women saw -- they saw the "Iron My Shirt" moment, and they also saw her trying to soften her image with this cry. And they thought, "You know what? By God, I've been there, surrounded by unsympathetic men, tired to the bone. I'm going with you, girlfriend."
MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me respond to you. Look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My attack?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, it's not your attack. It's a silly position you're taking. Everybody has known for two years that Hillary has all the experience in the world. What turned that around in a race, a 12- to 15-point advantage, in 48 hours? It was events. You could feel it up there. I was on shows and people were saying, "It's outrageous what they're doing to Hillary."
I'm not a fan of her. My sister and my wife were with me. Both of them thought it was dreadful. John Edwards got on the next morning and said, "I'm tough." Those women in the final 48 hours moved en masse. All the undecideds moved en masse to Hillary. And going down the road -- let me make one point -- going down the road, this is the sisterhood versus the brotherhood. (Laughter.) The sisterhood is going to win. The sisterhood is going to win.
MR. PAGE: They outnumber us. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- means nothing to me. What I'm interested in is the research. Spradling did the research.
MR. BUCHANAN: Spradling asked his question on Sunday night, John. It was 48 hours later.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's research. It's valid research.
MR. BUCHANAN: That's 48 hours after Spradling. The maternal instinct cut in hard.
MS. CLIFT: Yes, and also the Hillary message of perhaps sowing some doubts about Barack Obama. People get in that polling booth and they think to themselves, "Is he really experienced enough? Do I want to entrust the country to him?"
Look, this is a very hard-fought fight. I don't know how it's going to come out. And after the media's performance in New Hampshire, I think we ought to refrain from making too many bold predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One thing we don't want to do is refrain.
Exit question: Is it fair to say -- I'm sticking with this -- that Hillary's superior experience and superior electability is what will carry her to the Democratic nomination, overriding all the competition? Pat. MR. BUCHANAN: The sisterhood is going to carry Hillary to the nomination.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Look, she's exploiting the gender gap in the primaries. And every Democrat has to exploit the gender gap or they wouldn't win. But she and Barack Obama are reaching beyond the typical stereotypes of gender and race, and that's what makes this race so powerful and what makes them both serious contenders.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean that women want more female politicians, and that's motivating their vote?
MS. CLIFT: Women are not going to vote for a woman simply because she's a woman. And what happened for Hillary in New Hampshire is not something she can actually count on. She still has to work for the votes of women.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will electability and experience rule?
MS. CROWLEY: There is a longer-term problem here for Hillary Clinton, because there's a discrepancy between what she says she is and what she actually is. She says she's a feminist, a feminist icon, and yet her entire experience during her life, everything she's achieved has been derivative of --
MS. CLIFT: I've never heard her say she's a feminist icon.
MS. CROWLEY: That's how she --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish. I want to hear this.
MS. CROWLEY: That's how she has positioned her entire persona.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's this again?
MS. CROWLEY: She has positioned herself as a feminist --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, I got that.
MS. CROWLEY: -- as a feminist icon. But her entire life experience, everything she's achieved, has been derivative of a man, including this presidential race. So to turn on --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, that Bill turned everything around.
MS. CROWLEY: The reason that she is running now as a leading Democratic candidate is because she was first lady. She was co- president with her husband. That is why. Let me say this. MS. CLIFT: She's also a New York senator.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MS. CROWLEY: Okay, but the discrepancy between those two -- so to turn on the water works, to play the estrogen card, to claim "Poor me" to try to get women voters going for her, it may have worked in New Hampshire. I'm not sure it's going to play.
MS. CLIFT: Would you prefer she put on a burqa and pretend she's not a woman? (Laughter.)
MR. PAGE: I mean, no matter what Hillary does, she's going to be criticized --
MS. CLIFT: Exactly.
MR. PAGE: -- you know, one side or the other. Look, it worked. I mean, the fact of the matter is, Obama's numbers -- the pollsters were right about Obama's numbers. The surprise turnout was on Hillary's side. And that's the kind of thing that has been unleashed now. I'm not going to say it's going to carry her to the nomination, John. I've learned my lesson. I'm not making any predictions this week. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think women are far more pragmatic, and they want experience and they want also the fortitude that she shows. And I don't think it was chemistry, female chemistry.
I think it was a cold, clear analysis of who can take care of this country the best in a time of terrorism.
Issue Two: Democratic Party Fractured.
Here's what may be a valid reason for Hillary to still be upset. The Democratic Party is at war with itself and may slip out of its Clintonian centrism and back into conventional liberalism, or progressivism, as the trendy euphemism would have it.
Centrism is what her husband and the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, the fabled DLC, championed and achieved. Now the party is being Obamasized, and God knows where it will end, they fear. Now even heavyweight Clintonites are abandoning ship: Anthony Lake, Clinton's security adviser; Susan Rice, Clinton diplomat; Greg Craig, Clinton lawyer; Richard Danzig, Clinton's secretary of the Navy, other academic and political gurus like the renowned Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security icon.
And on the Clinton defenders' side, there are the eminent Hillary holdouts who stare at Obama in disbelief: Madeleine Albright, secretary of State; Sandy Berger, national security advisor; Richard Holbrooke, U.N. ambassador; Terry McAuliffe, campaign manager; and many others.
Senator and '04 presidential nominee John Kerry endorsed Barack Obama this week in South Carolina. Kerry's endorsement comes as a kidney punch to presidential candidate John Edwards, who, by the way, was Kerry's vice presidential running mate in '04.
Question: What's the significance of John Kerry's endorsement of Obama? Clarence.
MR. PAGE: Well, everybody talks about the mailing list. I don't know if Obama hasn't already got most of those names on his list as it is. But to me, it's a big shot at Edwards and raises the notion that maybe Edwards is the spoiler in this race after he tried to portray Hillary Clinton as being the spoiler. Just imagine if Edwards was not there. How many of his votes would go to Obama now? I would guess a majority of them would.
MS. CLIFT: Right. In a way, Edwards is Hillary Clinton's best friend, because he's probably keeping Obama from getting a majority. Edwards is a side show. He seems to be the only one who doesn't know that. But the importance of the Kerry endorsement is that the establishment parts of the party are -- some of them are moving towards Obama. And he needed to show that. He also got Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano this week.
MR. BUCHANAN: But at the fundamental level, John --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but the Democrats are not at war with themselves.
MR. BUCHANAN: They are. They are.
MS. CLIFT: No, they aren't.
MR. BUCHANAN: All right. Well, let me --
MS. CLIFT: I think, if I can finish my point --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can we hear from Pat, please?
MS. CLIFT: I want to finish my point.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, quickly.
MS. CLIFT: There's a lot of enthusiasm, and we may reach the point where these two candidates will run together. And I think there's awareness on both their parts not to do anything that would prevent that --
MR. BUCHANAN: There is a division.
MS. CLIFT: -- because they need to keep that energy going.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, straighten this out, will you?
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. There is -- the old division in the Democratic Party that dates back to 1972 is returning, the McGovern wing versus the Muskie-Humphrey wing. There's an overlay, however. This time the African-American folks are moving away from the Humphrey wing toward Obama. But the old split is -- look at who Obama is getting; over-educated folks. He's getting those folks; young collegians, all that kind of enthusiasm.
MS. CLIFT: The typical insurgency.
MR. BUCHANAN: Hold it, Eleanor. Now let me finish. It's when the white working-class women and working-class folks, union folks, they're the ones that are moving toward Hillary. That old division is coming back. And now you've got the sisterhood versus the brotherhood added on.
MS. CLIFT: The difference -- MR. BUCHANAN: This is a formula for a great fight, Clarence.
MS. CLIFT: The difference between these candidates on policy is minuscule. And you may be foreshadowing --
MR. BUCHANAN: I agree with that.
MS. CLIFT: -- the Republican attacks on Obama saying he's, you know, conservative and going back to '72.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's very left-wing; I agree with you.
MS. CLIFT: I mean liberal and going back --
MS. CROWLEY: You know what? There's another point --
MS. CLIFT: They're both in the same broad center. They really are.
MR. PAGE: There's not much difference between them. That's why it's a quandary over who to vote for.
MS. CROWLEY: There's something else that's going on that's merging style and substance here, and that is that Obama's basically doing Bill Clinton in 1992.
MR. PAGE: That's true.
MS. CROWLEY: Bill Clinton in '92 ran on this ethereal, wispy, cotton candy, insubstantial sense of change. But he also hooked into the wishful thinking of hope back in '92 that Americans are so addicted to. Obama is doing that so well. And I'm getting the sense from the Clinton side that they're wondering how they got co-opted by this guy, why he's doing the Clintons better than the Clintons.
MR. PAGE: I will say, though, that Hillary is coopting some of Obama's tactics now by reaching out to young people, getting the young vote out.
MR. BUCHANAN: She got them all behind her at the photo-op.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Hold on. I want to get this gem out there. John Kerry was quoted in a book written by Bob Shrum, just published. The book is called "No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner." That's Shrum. He ran Kerry's -- he was a strategist for Kerry's campaign. He quotes Kerry in his book as having said, quote, "The only thing the Clintons care about is themselves and power."
MR. BUCHANAN: That's not an original observation. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Were you trying to say something? MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: Right. Right. And I must say, though --
MR. BUCHANAN: I just said it.
MS. CLIFT: -- when Clinton ran in 1992, it was not an insubstantial campaign. He came with a whole set of policy ideas, and it was "the economy, stupid." And I think that's what Obama -- if he's going to expand the Clinton message, he needs to get some more specifics into his message.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you really want to fortify Bill Clinton beyond the unusual level of anger that he was at -- I've never seen him like this before in New Hampshire --
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- then all you have to do is think that Kerry has delivered himself of this line, that he and his wife only think about power and money.
MS. CLIFT: Clinton's angry --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, Clinton was right.
MS. CLIFT: -- because he thinks the media is portraying --
MR. BUCHANAN: He's right.
MS. CLIFT: -- Barack Obama as a second coming.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MS. CLIFT: And they're turning Hillary into yesterday. And he's ticked off about it.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, they portrayed Obama as though he were born in Bethlehem. I mean, I don't blame Clinton. I mean, he got this enormous -- they were carrying him into the city up in New Hampshire. And Clinton got ticked off, and he was right to be ticked off. They gave him a free ride.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You remember --
MR. BUCHANAN: The free ride is over.
MR. PAGE: We also know Clinton is an excellent political gamesman. He saw his wife was up against the ropes, so he plays the bad cop, going out there throwing the barbs at Obama while his wife comes across as sweetness and light.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it your sense that there is deep bitterness between the two factions, the Obama-ites and the Clintonites, within this?
MS. CROWLEY: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there bitterness?
MS. CROWLEY: I saw it during the debate Saturday night. I saw the way Clinton and Obama --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that this is going to go away?
MS. CROWLEY: -- just briefly shook hands, and that was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's going to go away?
MS. CROWLEY: No, I don't think so. MR. BUCHANAN: Obama's smear, John.
MS. CROWLEY: Do you know why? Because this is a struggle for the first election of the 21st election.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's going to win? We've got to get out.
What's that again?
MS. CROWLEY: This is the struggle for the first real election of the 21st century.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out. Who's going to win the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, the Clintonites or the Obama-ites?
MR. BUCHANAN: In the long run, the Obama-ites are going to win it, because this is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean by the long run?
MR. BUCHANAN: Because they're the youth, and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before November the 4th?
MR. BUCHANAN: -- the McGovernites eventually will win. But this time --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The McGovernites will win?
MR. BUCHANAN: Eventually. But most often it's the Humphreyites and the Muskies who win.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about before November the 4th of this year?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think -- if I had to bet now, if you forced me, John, I would bet on Clinton taking the nomination.
MS. CLIFT: All those names you just spouted out, most Americans alive today don't even remember them. I think it's --
MR. BUCHANAN: But you do, Eleanor. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: I sure do. And I don't think you're going to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly, quickly.
MS. CLIFT: I don't think you're going to be able to demonize Obama as way off to the left. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see this --
MS. CLIFT: It is unknowable. This is an historic --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- coming into a -- it's going to blossom in a union in the party?
MS. CLIFT: This is an historic free-for-all, and they will come together when it's resolved.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MS. CROWLEY: This is even money on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton right now. I wouldn't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean, 50-50?
MS. CROWLEY: Don't underestimate the Clinton machine.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Come on, give me a --
MS. CROWLEY: But the energy that Obama is riding is unstoppable.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you're saying the Obama-ites will rule.
MR. PAGE: This is not a philosophical dispute. I mean, both Clinton and Obama are basically of the same philosophical mind.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's not a philosophical dispute.
MR. PAGE: Exactly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a political dispute. Who's going to win the dispute?
MR. PAGE: The McGovernites have already won. These are two different sides of it; that's all. That's why Democrats are in such a quandary now as to which one to choose, Hillary or Obama, because they are so much alike.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is it's too close to call. (Laughter.)
Issue Three: Hello, Dixie.
FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR MIKE HUCKABEE (Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) Folks, we're going to do more than do well here. I want to make it real clear: We're going to win South Carolina. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Contests in both parties grow tighter and hotter as South Carolina looms. The Republican primary in South Carolina is one week from this weekend, January the 19th, Saturday. The Democratic primary in South Carolina is January 26th, the following Saturday. South Carolina is a state where race, politics and religion are woven into the fabric of society, and patriotism counts big.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee claims that on all these measures, he has the big "mo." Eight years ago, when McCain ran for the U.S. presidency, his candidacy in South Carolina was zapped. George W. Bush saw to that, with methods that need not detain us here.
This time around, McCain is back in the fray and stronger. He comes on with a five-point win in the New Hampshire primary over Mitt Romney. McCain says he's a natural for South Carolina.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ) (Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) There's a lot of veterans, a lot of people who have served our country and understand what's at stake if we had done what the Democrats wanted to do, and that's withdraw and surrender.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Will McCain again crush Romney, in South Carolina this time? Monica Crowley.
MS. CROWLEY: This race is so wide open after the debate, it is -- it's anybody's guess. Mitt Romney has an endless checkbook. He can continue to fund his own campaign.
But I don't think he's going to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see Romney rebounding?
MR. BUCHANAN: Romney's not going to rebound in South Carolina.
MS. CROWLEY: In fact, he stopped --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute.
MS. CROWLEY: He stopped his television ads running in both Michigan and South Carolina. He's now going forward with a great media investment here. So I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who sees Romney --
MS. CROWLEY: -- McCain wins because Thompson and Huckabee will end up neutralizing each other.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who sees Romney rebounding?
MR. BUCHANAN: I do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do?
MR. BUCHANAN: I mean, I see him -- let me put it this way. I see him not quitting. He's not going to win South Carolina. But I see him holding on till February 5th and moving out into the country and getting his basket of delegates out in the West and places like that. And a real possibility, John, of a -- I think it's going to be a Huckabee-McCain race.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which way -- which way will the black vote go in next Saturday's Republican primary?
MR. BUCHANAN: In the Republican primary?
MS. CLIFT: The Republican primary --
MR. BUCHANAN: They'll just stay home.
MS. CLIFT: -- (inaudible) -- Democratic primary. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean in the Democratic primary in South Carolina.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, I think Obama wins South Carolina for the Democrats.
A point to make about the Republicans is they're playing tag team. They're all winning different states. And then you've got Giuliani waiting in Florida. So you really could have this Balkanized race that goes right up to the end.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So in the following week, which way will the Republican Party go?
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will it go --
MS. CLIFT: I don't know. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't know?
MR. BUCHANAN: John, it's a Huckabee-McCain race in South Carolina. Romney's not in it in South Carolina.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't know that.
MR. BUCHANAN: I do know it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't think for a minute, because it didn't work, what he had to say about Huckabee, then it won't work again.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's 9 or 10 percent in South Carolina.
MS. CROWLEY: And also, don't discount Rudy Giuliani, who's spending all of his resources now in Florida, which comes up on January 29th. And if people are sick --
MR. BUCHANAN: What resources?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to take any bets against that position?
Issue Four: Ugly American?
Europeans appear weary and wary of President Bush. More than 5,500 Europeans told this to Harris Interactive in a poll conducted for the International Herald Tribune and a French television station. The survey showed that Mr. Bush's reputation is tanking. The approval rating of President George W. Bush on an approval scale of zero to 100 in each of the five European countries surveyed is a single digit. Italy, 8 percent approve of Bush; the UK, 7 percent; Spain, 7 percent; Germany, 5 percent; France, 3 percent.
The same 5,500 respondents in the same five countries were also asked this question: "How much of a threat does the United States pose to peace among nations of the world?" In all five countries, majorities responded that the U.S. poses a, quote-unquote, "major threat to world peace."
Question: How demoralizing are these numbers and should be demoralizing to those who would make believe that they don't exist? I ask you, Clarence.
MR. PAGE: Well, you know, I don't know if we should be surprised by this kind of reaction from overseas, considering how this administration has gotten two wars started and threatening to start a third. It's obvious Bush isn't in sync with the thinking that exists overseas.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's all Iraq?
MR. PAGE: I think Iraq is a big part of it; the idea that the U.S. may be ready to have another preemptive war.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The credit rating of the United States is as high as it can be, AAA. How long will that last? Give me a year. How many years?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's going to go down, but I do think this is a killer for national health insurance.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're talking about the world credit rating.
MS. CLIFT: Nobody's talking about national health insurance anyway. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MS. CLIFT: It's talking about universal access. But 2008 is going to be a recessionary year; no turnaround till 2009.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MS. CROWLEY: I'm a little more bullish. I say two years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two years.
MR. PAGE: I think one year.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is within five years. Bye-bye.