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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR; MARTIN WALKER, UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL TAPED: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2008 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 2-3, 2008

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Democrats' Debate.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY, Democratic presidential candidate): It will be important, however, that our nominee be able to present both a reasoned argument against continuing our presence in Iraq and the necessary credentials and gravitas for commander in chief. That has to cross that threshold in the mind of every American voter.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL, Democratic presidential candidate): Senator Clinton mentioned the issue of gravitas and judgment. The reason that this is important, again, is that Senator Clinton, I think fairly, has claimed that she's got the experience on day one. And part of the argument that I'm making in this campaign is that it is important to be right on day one -- (cheers, applause) -- and that the judgment that I presented on this --

(End videotaped segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Who won this exchange? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: The exchange on Iraq, I think, Barack Obama clearly won with the Democratic Party. He said, "You've got to be right on day one." That's the real thrust, the fact that Hillary had voted for the war and he had opposed it. And he also said, "We not only have got to get rid of Iraq. We've got to get rid of the mindset that got us into this war."

I think Barack was at his best in the Iraq segment of the debate, John. I think he also helped himself by moving up from the sort of attacks that he and Hillary have been engaging in. I think Barack got an A+ in the debate, and I think Hillary got an A.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that was his best moment, Eleanor, when he said you've got to be right?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, he had a number of good moments, but so did she. She did as well. It was a very good debate, and it makes Democrats really have to work to decide between the two of them. And I think they both had stellar performances.

But on Iraq, he's clearly the winner, because she went on with a very contorted explanation of her vote, to the point where Wolf Blitzer asked if she was naive in trusting President Bush. She's suggesting that somehow she didn't realize the vote would lead to war. And he has a clear position. It's always been a winning vote for him. But the problem is that now people are more concerned about the economy. And so I don't know that he can ride to victory on the basis of being right about Iraq.

MS. CROWLEY: If --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that?

MS. CROWLEY: Well, if the Republican debate this week was an adult beverage, the Democrat debate was a Shirley Temple. I mean, they were very cordial, and I think they both saw it in their interest not to get down in the dirt and throw mud and go nuclear on each other, as they did in the previous week.

I agree that I think Barack Obama's strongest moment was delineating the differences between himself and Senator Clinton on the Iraq war. That has won him the base. It will keep him the base. He's got the MoveOn.org endorsement primarily because of that vote on Iraq. And I think what's most important is, watching Barack Obama now, he's actually taken a page out of Hillary Clinton's playbook in that he's now running a general election campaign against Senator McCain.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What substantive discussion probably drew the most attention from the viewing audience?

MS. CROWLEY: I think the Iraq exchange that you just played, and also, I mean, there are very few differences between --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think it was health care?

MS. CROWLEY: -- Clinton and Obama on the issues. There are some minute differences between them on health care. I think the Democratic base was very mobilized by that exchange. But I think above and beyond everything for the Democrats is Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a pocketbook issue, health care. And don't you think that she won that?

MR. WALKER: I think she won that. I don't think she was quite that badly defeated on Iraq, and I think she had --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I was thinking now about health care.

MR. WALKER: Yeah. But she also, I think, made the point, which goes directly not just to health care but to the economic issue which underlines it, when she said that it took a Clinton to clean up the last Bush; it'll take a Clinton to clean up this Bush. And I think that was her strongest line.

But I could not suspend my disbelief. All through that Democratic debate, they were making so nice to one another, I could barely believe it. By the end, when they were hugging, I thought, "Get a room, you two." (Laughter.)

It was really, I thought, almost an insult to the audience for us to be expected to believe, after the snub at the State of the Union meeting, after all of the angst that we've seen between them, all of the "Billary" onslaught upon Obama, an insult to our intelligence to assume that all has suddenly become sweetness and light.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it because they were looking to prevent a split in the party?

MS. CLIFT: Well, and it's in each of their self-interest now to demonstrate to Democrats in the country that they will come together in the fall, whichever one of them emerges. They can't look like two kids squabbling in the back seat while John McCain drives his way to the nomination. It was smart on both their parts, and it came across as genuine. MR. BUCHANAN: Economically -- Hillary helped herself in the immigration segment, where Barack Obama said it's really scapegoating to say that the illegal aliens or the undocumented are taking away jobs from African-Americans. That African-American person had called, and she came in and said, "Look, let's be realistic about it. There are economic consequences in the African-American community." And that community is one of the strongest on illegal aliens, so it was a tough position she took, almost a conservative position. But I think it's a reach into the African-American community by her, which I thought was very effective.

MS. CROWLEY: That's true, but then Barack Obama came back on that same issue, Pat, and he was talking about enforcing the border. And he said, "Look, you can't continue to have a great nation if you don't know who's in your country and who is coming in."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Overcharged Bill.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

JEANNE CUMMINGS (Politico.

com): Greg Craig, who was one of your husband's top lawyers and is now a senior adviser to Senator Obama, recently asked, "If your campaign can't control the former president now, what will it be like when you're in the White House?"

SEN. CLINTON: (Laughs.) Well, one thing I think is fair to say. Both Barack and I have very passionate spouses who promote and defend us at every turn. You know, but the fact is that I'm running for president and this is my campaign. At the end of the day, it is my name that's on the ballot and it will be my responsibility as president and commander in chief, after consulting broadly with a lot of people who have something to contribute to difficult decisions, I will have to make the call.

(End videotaped segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: How well did Hillary handle this exchange? I ask you, Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Well, look, she handled it the best that she could. The problem is that, by Hillary's own admission, she was in on every single major foreign and domestic policy decision of the first Clinton co-presidency. So what makes any of us think that it would be any different when she's at the top of the ticket and Bill is there with her?

MS. CLIFT: Look, I think she --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Didn't she make it clear that she --

MS. CROWLEY: She hasn't answered the question. When she was asked the question about spouses, too, and she said, "Well, Barack Obama has a very passionate spouse as well," the difference is that Michelle Obama wasn't a former president seeking an illegal third term, as Bill Clinton is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They made a decision -- the campaign made a decision to give Bill full rein and contact with the voters but to stay away from the press. They want him to have a lower profile.

MS. CLIFT: Well, he's been campaigning like he's pretty much in a straitjacket this week. He's been on message for the most part. Look, I thought she repaired a lot of the damage that he did to her candidacy with her performance in this debate. But they're now clearly running in tandem. He might as well be on the ballot. And that's not a genie she can put back in the bottle, and that has both advantages and disadvantages.

MR. BUCHANAN: She was in command, I thought, all during the debate. She had a rough moment on Iraq. She was crisp during the debate. I thought she did an excellent job.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're omitting something. In terms of personality, she showed more warmth than the aloof Obama.

MR. BUCHANAN: She is very, very good, especially when you're sitting down. Obama does better when he's standing up and can go into that oratorical mode of his. But I think she did an excellent job in this thing. And, frankly, Bill Clinton is helping her out. He has done the damage to Obama. He knocked him off his game. Obama's gotten back on it. Now he's campaigning out there in Missouri and Arkansas, places like that. He's going to do some good for her.

MS. CLIFT: Two for the price of one didn't work in 1992 and it's not going to work now.

MR. BUCHANAN: They won. They got the White House.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but she retreated into a different formulation, just as he is.

MR. WALKER: It was so --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish.

MS. CLIFT: She retreated to a different formulation in '92. I remember there was a cartoon with Clinton at the podium, and there was a little box with air holes and the caption said, "Three more days, Hillary, and you can come out." He can't be totally unleashed or people are going to think they're electing Bill Clinton.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: To remind people, Bill Clinton injected race into the South Carolina primary, and that was probably to ease the post-primary fallout for Hillary -- do you follow me? -- because he was pre-assigning the black vote for the black candidate --

MR. WALKER: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- as was the case with Jesse Jackson. And that's what got him into trouble. But I think you take the position, do you not, that it worked? Do you think it worked?

MR. WALKER: Well, I think, given that it was taking place in the context of the Martin Luther King day, that was what was energizing a lot of the black community. And don't forget, the first person who injected race into the debate, when Martin Luther King entered the debate, if you like, was Obama himself, who began talking about the role of Martin Luther King as the great leader of civil rights. Fair enough.

Hillary then comes in and says, "Ah, yes, but it took a president as well." But it got so bad in South Carolina that at one point I thought maybe Bill Clinton actually doesn't want her to win. Maybe he's actually trying to sabotage her.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is her original theory.

(Cross-talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish.

MR. BUCHANAN: It worked.

MS. CROWLEY: When you look at some of the destructive things that have come out of Bill Clinton's mouth over the last couple of weeks -- and he has done Hillary a service in that he's created a distraction for Barack Obama; he's over here whacking Bill Clinton, so he's not hitting Hillary.

But on the flip side, he has created such an impression that she can't do this on her own. I mean, here you've got the first viable woman president -- or woman candidate running for president, and it's looking like she can't pull it off by herself.

MR. BUCHANAN: But John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think she took possession -- anybody who watched that debate will believe that there's only one Clinton on the ticket?

MS. CROWLEY: No, but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And does anyone doubt that she's going to make the decisions in the White House?

MS. CROWLEY: How in the world --

MS. CLIFT: Nobody questions her toughness.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait. Let her finish.

MS. CROWLEY: But wait a minute. When Bill Clinton was president, she admits that she was in on every policy decision that was made. So what makes anybody think that he's not also going to be by her side making every decision --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, she said in the debate she was dealing with Montenegro. Did you hear that? (Cross-talk.)

MR. WALKER: If you're talking about the influence of spouses, at least Bill Clinton is not consulting an astrologer. We've had a president's wife who was doing that when she was --

MS. CLIFT: Well, he's going to be part of the presidency if she has one. But nobody questions Hillary Clinton's toughness. And she had to establish a likability, if you will, and she did well in the debate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Her best performance.

MS. CLIFT: Obama got almost 80 percent --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me talk about the numbers.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. Obama got almost 80 percent of the black vote in South Carolina.

MR. BUCHANAN: About 78 -- 78.

MS. CLIFT: Well, that counts as almost 80 percent --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on for one minute, Pat.

MS. CLIFT: -- and almost --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.

MS. CLIFT: -- a quarter of the white vote. That is a respectable coalition going forward.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama's Republican blast.

SEN. OBAMA: (From videotape.) I don't think the Republicans are going to be in a real strong position to argue fiscal responsibility when they've added $4 (trillion) or $5 trillion worth of national debt. (Applause.) You know, I am happy to have that argument.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Obama right? Is it impossible for the Republicans to attack Democrats as tax-and-spend liberals in November? I ask you, Patrick Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, it will not be impossible if you've got John McCain as the nominee, because he's, A, a budget hawk, and B, you can cost out universal health care and all these other tax credits and programs that Obama and Hillary are both for. Add them all up; they're going to increase the deficit dramatically. And McCain has credibility on this issue.

Let me talk about those numbers, John. Look, Obama got 78 percent of the black vote in South Carolina and lost 76 percent of the white vote.

MS. CLIFT: He got 24 percent of the white vote is how I would view it.

MR. BUCHANAN: The white vote in Florida -- he was tied with John Edwards in Florida among the white vote. Super Tuesday is going to tell us. The Hispanic vote is going two to one, three to one, four to one for Hillary. The white vote is going about five to three for Hillary. And if those numbers obtain, Obama cannot win. Now, Obama came up in Florida after the early voting and he may have done a lot better than my numbers indicate, but my numbers are the final numbers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The big lesson in what you just said is the importance of the Hispanic vote, which very few people -- you excepted and me excepted, maybe some on this panel; probably Eleanor, right, and Martin --

MS. CLIFT: Well, the Hispanic vote --

MR. BUCHANAN: That's everybody. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: The Hispanic vote in the Democratic primaries is very important, which is why the Ted Kennedy endorsement is critical, because he can swing that vote.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hispanics today --

MS. CLIFT: So those numbers --

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think Teddy can deliver them.

MS. CLIFT: Those numbers are about a lot more than simply black and white race issues.

MR. BUCHANAN: Those are -- the numbers I just gave you are true.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hispanics today are 16 percent of the American population.

Okay. Obama engages McCain.

SEN. OBAMA: (From videotape.) If John McCain, for example, is the nominee, I respect that John McCain, in the first two rounds of Bush tax cuts, said it is irresponsible that we have never before cut taxes at the same time as we're going into war. And somewhere along the line, the Straight Talk Express lost some wheels. (Laughter.) And now he is in favor of extending Bush tax cuts that went to some of the wealthiest Americans, who don't need them and were not even asking for them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why did Obama choose to engage McCain instead of Hillary on this issue? Monica Crowley.

MS. CROWLEY: He is looking to look like he is the presumptive Democratic nominee. He's running a general election campaign against who he perceives the Republican nominee is going to be, John McCain. I think it was a master stroke on his part. This is what Hillary has been doing nonstop. And, you know, you mentioned all these numbers. Hang on. You are seeing a hemorrhaging of Hillary Clinton's support in some of the big states like California, 20-30 points. She now only holds a three- point lead over Obama in the state of California. I mean, there is a huge swing.

The latest Gallup poll shows 11 points in the direction of Barack Obama. He is cresting at the right time, and he is -- if he can project himself in the minds of Democratic voters that he is going to be the nominee and will be the most effective against John McCain, that's what he's doing, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is the belief abroad for some time that blacks and Hispanics do not really get along that well together. And in California, are you telling me that Hillary, who has the Hispanic vote --

MS. CROWLEY: Well, this is a product, though, of a Clinton strategic move, because right after Iowa, the Clintons -- and John Fund of The Wall Street Journal reported this -- the Clintons decided that they were going to try to drive a wedge between the blacks and the Hispanics in the Democratic base.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Obama's doing the same thing --

MS. CROWLEY: And in order to --

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama's out there yelling --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's your final point? Quickly.

MS. CROWLEY: That the Clintons were trying to make it clear to Hispanic voters that if there is a President Obama, Hispanics will be second-class citizens.

MR. BUCHANAN: Wait. Look, here's what Obama is doing. Look, Obama gets up there and says, "Yes, we can; yes, we can." Translated, that's "Si se puede." That's the battle cry of Cesar Chavez. It's the battle cry of the illegal aliens when they're marching under the Mexican flags. He's trying to do the same thing, and so are they. And there's nothing wrong with it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's trying to fly the flag --

MR. BUCHANAN: But I don't think it can work.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in that community.

Okay. "He needs me."

(Audio clip of "As Long As He Needs Me.") SENATOR EDWARD KENNEDY (D-MA): (From videotape.) He is a leader who sees the world clearly without being cynical. He is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in, without demonizing those who hold a different view. I'm proud to stand with him here today and offer my help, offer my voice, offer my energy, my commitment to make Barack Obama the next president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Democratic Party patriarch Senator Edward Kennedy shattered his political neutrality this week. He endorsed Barack Obama. This came one day after Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, assassinated in 1963, also endorsed Obama. She wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times.

This cheerleading is not shared by all Kennedys. Robert Kennedy Jr., Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Kerry Kennedy, the children of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, brother of John F. Kennedy, himself assassinated in 1968, are backing Hillary's candidacy.

Question: Is Kennedy's intended boost to Obama really an unalloyed boost? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, because it comes at a critical time when he needs help with traditional working-class Democrats, many of them Catholics, and he's saying it's okay to vote for Obama, and with Hispanics. And he will campaign in those communities. And his voice carries in that community; and also Caroline Kennedy, who is the voice of the future, the fact that she has never spoken out on behalf of any candidate to this effect.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you --

MS. CLIFT: In these Democratic primaries, this is critical.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are aware of the Americans for Democratic Action, the premier liberal rating organization.

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Edward Kennedy, in the most recent rating, 2004, has a 100 percent rating out of 100 points.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MS. CLIFT: Oh, that's going to really deter Democrats. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also, Obama has a very high liberal rating on his performing for two years in the Senate.

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think adding liberal to liberal for Obama in today's society is going to be helpful to him?

MS. CLIFT: I think if he gets --

MR. WALKER: In the Democratic primaries?

MS. CLIFT: In the Democratic primaries, it's gold. In the fall, I'm sure the Republican --

MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Kennedys --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish. Let her finish. MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. In the fall, the Republican National Committee is probably stockpiling those photos.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: But, you know, that's really old-style politics. And I think the country --

MR. BUCHANAN: But the Kennedys are yesterday. Camelot is dead 45 years.

MS. CLIFT: Caroline Kennedy --

MR. BUCHANAN: They went through LBJ, Reagan --

MS. CLIFT: Caroline Kennedy is tomorrow. And you're still putting together --

(Cross-talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are you saying? What are you saying?

MR. WALKER: Eleanor, you're being too mechanical about this.

MS. CLIFT: Caroline Kennedy -- I am not; I'm just trying to --

MR. WALKER: This is about passion. The Democratic Party wants to fall in love with its candidate, and that's what the whole Kennedy magic is about. It's Kennedy magic. It's Luther King magic. And Obama is being presented as somehow the holy union of them both. That is the new idea to fall in love with for Democrats.

MS. CLIFT: And this is from people who are still trying to put together the Reagan coalition, and you're telling me --

MR. BUCHANAN: But Kennedy was 20 years before that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Pat.

MS. CLIFT: Caroline Kennedy is tomorrow.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Hold on. I want to hear quickly from you.

MS. CROWLEY: The Kennedys? I mean, what's next, the Beatles invade America? I mean, look --

MS. CLIFT: That would be helpful too.

MS. CROWLEY: -- Bill and Hillary Clinton would have walked over their grandmother for the Kennedy endorsement.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit -- MS. CROWLEY: In fact, Bill picked up the phone. He tried to stop Ted from doing it. It does help Barack Obama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. One-word answer; we're out of time. Who won the Democratic debate? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it was a draw; slightly to Obama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wrong. Come on, Pat.

MS. CLIFT: I think it was a draw. They both did well, making Democrats agonize.

MS. CROWLEY: Obama.

MR. WALKER: It was Obama on points.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hillary won the debate.

Issue Two: McCain Takes Florida.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ, Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) I offer my best wishes to Governor Romney and his supporters. You fought hard. (Applause.) You fought hard for your candidate. And the margin that separated us tonight surely isn't big enough for me to brag about or for you to despair.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Senator John McCain is the new Republican front- runner. Registered Republicans voted in the Florida primary -- McCain, 36 percent; Romney, 31; Giuliani, 15; Huckabee, 14; Paul, 3.

A day after the primary, Wednesday, at the Republican debate, the air was tense. A McCain-Romney face-off centered on the Iraq war. McCain accused Romney of wanting to set a withdrawal date for American forces in Iraq, quoting Romney from an interview last April.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

SEN. MCCAIN: He said he wanted a timetable. April was a very interesting year in 2007. That's when Harry Reid said, "The war is lost and we've got to get out." And the buzz word was timetables, timetables.

Governor, the right answer to that question was no, not what you said.

MITT ROMNEY (Republican presidential candidate and former governor of Massachusetts): I do not propose, nor have I ever proposed, a public or secret date for withdrawal. This is simply wrong. And, by the way, raising it a few days before the Florida primary, when there was very little time for me to correct the record, when the question I was most frequently asked is, "Oh, you're for a specific date of withdrawal?" sort of falls in the kind of dirty tricks that I think Ronald Reagan would have found to be reprehensible.

Is it not fair to have the person who's being accused of having a position he doesn't have be the expert on what his position is? How is it that you're the expert on my position when my position has been very clear? (Cheers, applause.)

SEN. MCCAIN: I'm the expert --

MR. ROMNEY: I'll tell you, this is the kind of --

SEN. MCCAIN: I'm on the expert on this one.

(End videotaped segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Did McCain's timetable attack on Romney turn the tables in Florida? Martin Walker.

MR. WALKER: It certainly helped.

But I think the really important thing is the way in which McCain won by that 5 percent margin, despite being outspent on TV ads in Florida by something like 10 to one. That makes it a really much more powerful win.

The other point, I think, is that Romney's reputed strongest point, which was his power on the economy, his vaunted reputation there, didn't avail him very much at all. And the reason for that, quite simply, is because this kind of economic crisis we're going through at the moment is one that was delivered and manufactured by people like Romney -- the MBAs, the guys with the fancy financial footwork. And people know that.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, what happened down in Florida was this. Look, Charlie Crist's endorsement, I think, was more important than --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who is he?

MR. BUCHANAN: He's the governor or Florida. But, look, Romney was hit right in the back of the head by McCain. It was a cheap shot. If Romney ever said that, McCain would have pounded him every day since April. But it worked. It knocked Romney off his game. It got it back to the national security issue. But McCain's being hurt because everybody, including the media, are saying it was a cheap shot, a low blow, and it was a rotten thing to do.

MS. CLIFT: But it's a cheap shot that goes to the underlying unease about Romney, and that is that he switches his position all the time. And if you're looking out there, you assume that he's probably switched his position on that as well.

MS. CROWLEY: Well, and what's remarkable, though, about John McCain, inexplicably to a lot of conservatives becoming the Republican front-runner, is this thunder on the right against John McCain. Conservatives look at McCain and say he's bad on illegal immigration. He's bad on the Bush tax cuts. He's bad on the anti-torture legislation. He's bad on campaign finance, bad on the Gang of 14. And that's just in the last seven years.

But, but, I think Republicans, first and foremost now, are putting electability ahead of everything else. They're looking at these national polls and they're seeing that McCain can beat Hillary and Obama by a substantial margin. And they're also saying, "Well, wait a minute. John McCain has been described in the press for 30 years as 'the conservative Republican from Arizona.'"

MR. BUCHANAN: Speak for yourself, Monica. (Laughs.)

MS. CROWLEY: No, no. I'm not endorsing John McCain, but I'm saying that he's got a long track record of cutting taxes, of cutting the budget --

MS. CLIFT: How is somebody --

MS. CROWLEY: -- of being a national security hawk, and pro-life for 35 years.

MS. CLIFT: How is somebody bad on anti-torture legislation?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out.

MS. CLIFT: That is a good thing. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out. Who's going to win on Super Tuesday? Is it going to be McCain or is it going to be Romney?

MR. BUCHANAN: McCain will win probably two out of three delegates.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MS. CLIFT: I think McCain. And because of winner-take-all rules, he'll probably --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MS. CLIFT: -- come up with enough delegates.

MS. CROWLEY: I think because conservatives are so agitated, it's going to be a draw between McCain and Romney.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is that? No draws.

MS. CROWLEY: It's a break-even.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Break-even.

MR. WALKER: McCain.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is Romney.

Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Really bad beating for the Republicans in both houses of Congress, John; 28 House Republicans have stepped down. MS. CLIFT: McCain's declaration that we're in for 100 years of wars will hurt him in the fall if he gets the nomination.

MS. CROWLEY: New England Patriots win the Super Bowl but they won't make the spread.

MR. WALKER: It's going to be a horrible year for free traders. Protectionist rhetoric is going to dominate this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict that Iraq will overtake the bad economy as the bigger lever issue in the November presidential election.

Happy Mardi Gras. Bye-bye.

(PBS segment.)

Issue Three: Time Is Long, Elections Are Short.

We have remaining in the calendar year, after big Super Tuesday, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October -- nine months to go, nine months to go. Isn't this a ridiculous process? Can you imagine what those stump speeches are going to sound like to the listener when we hear them again and again over the course of these months?

MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, a lot of Americans just have begun to tune in. Second of all, the Democratic contest may not be over next week. Third, you could get Mayor Bloomberg coming into the race, especially if Obama doesn't get the nomination. He wants the "Let's all compromise together" message. And then we can all start speculating about vice presidential candidates. John, this is a feast. (Laughs.)

MR. WALKER: And fourth and fifth, we've got -- I think we're pretty sure that both Iraq and the economy will make sure there's lots of new things to be talking about.

MR. BUCHANAN: And the opposition-research boys, John, as soon as the candidates are known, will step out there and start defining them with surrogates and attacks in order to make a fixed impression in the mind of the electorate that you don't want this guy or this gal as president of the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think on Super Tuesday the rabbit will be out of the hat and that's the end of that, let's move on, and then what happens?

MS. CROWLEY: Well, and then, like you say, we've got nine months, the human gestation period, between Super Tuesday and the general election. We're already bored with the stump speeches. This campaign has been ongoing for two years as it is. So I think that -- MR. WALKER: And with all those TV ads.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does the time benefit any particular candidate?

MR. WALKER: Well, it certainly benefits the TV companies with all the ads that are going to be played.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does it help Hillary? Does it help Obama?

MR. WALKER: It helps Obama.

MS. CLIFT: The electorate is more engaged than they have been in a long time.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I don't think it helps Obama --

MR. WALKER: It helps Obama.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- because he'll be cut up.

MS. CLIFT: A record turnout.



END.
just gave you are true.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hispanics today are 16 percent of the American population.

Okay. Obama engages McCain.

SEN. OBAMA: (From videotape.) If John McCain, for example, is the nominee, I respect that John McCain, in the first two rounds of Bush tax cuts, said it is irresponsible that we have never before cut taxes at the same time as we're going into war. And somewhere along the line, the Straight Talk Express lost some wheels. (Laughter.) And now he is in favor of extending Bush tax cuts that went to some of the wealthiest Americans, who don't need them and were not even asking for them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why did Obama choose to engage McCain instead of Hillary on this issue? Monica Crowley.

MS. CROWLEY: He is looking to look like he is the presumptive Democratic nominee. He's running a general election campaign against who he perceives the Republican nominee is going to be, John McCain. I think it was a master stroke on his part. This is what Hillary has been doing nonstop. And, you know, you mentioned all these numbers. Hang on. You are seeing a hemorrhaging of Hillary Clinton's support in some of the big states like California, 20-30 points. She now only holds a three- point lead over Obama in the state of California. I mean, there is a huge swing.

The latest Gallup poll shows 11 points in the direction of Barack Obama. He is cresting at the right time, and he is -- if he can project himself in the minds of Democratic voters that he is going to be the nominee and will be the most effective against John McCain, that's what he's doing, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is the belief abroad for some time that blacks and Hispanics do not really get along that well together. And in California, are you telling me that Hillary, who has the Hispanic vote --

MS. CROWLEY: Well, this is a product, though, of a Clinton strategic move, because right after Iowa, the Clintons -- and John Fund of The Wall Street Journal reported this -- the Clintons decided that they were going to try to drive a wedge between the blacks and the Hispanics in the Democratic base.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Obama's doing the same thing --

MS. CROWLEY: And in order to --

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama's out there yelling --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's your final point? Quickly.

MS. CROWLEY: That the Clintons were trying to make it clear to Hispanic voters that if there is a President Obama, Hispanics will be second-class citizens.

MR. BUCHANAN: Wait. Look, here's what Obama is doing. Look, Obama gets up there and says, "Yes, we can; yes, we can." Translated, that's "Si se puede." That's the battle cry of Cesar Chavez. It's the battle cry of the illegal aliens when they're marching under the Mexican flags. He's trying to do the same thing, and so are they. And there's nothing wrong with it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's trying to fly the flag --

MR. BUCHANAN: But I don't think it can work.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in that community.

Okay. "He needs me."

(Audio clip of "As Long As He Needs Me.") SENATOR EDWARD KENNEDY (D-MA): (From videotape.) He is a leader who sees the world clearly without being cynical. He is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in, without demonizing those who hold a different view. I'm proud to stand with him here today and offer my help, offer my voice, offer my energy, my commitment to make Barack Obama the next president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Democratic Party patriarch Senator Edward Kennedy shattered his political neutrality this week. He endorsed Barack Obama. This came one day after Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, assassinated in 1963, also endorsed Obama. She wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times.

This cheerleading is not shared by all Kennedys. Robert Kennedy Jr., Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Kerry Kennedy, the children of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, brother of John F. Kennedy, himself assassinated in 1968, are backing Hillary's candidacy.

Question: Is Kennedy's intended boost to Obama really an unalloyed boost? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, because it comes at a critical time when he needs help with traditional working-class Democrats, many of them Catholics, and he's saying it's okay to vote for Obama, and with Hispanics. And he will campaign in those communities. And his voice carries in that community; and also Caroline Kennedy, who is the voice of the future, the fact that she has never spoken out on behalf of any candidate to this effect.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you --

MS. CLIFT: In these Democratic primaries, this is critical.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are aware of the Americans for Democratic Action, the premier liberal rating organization.

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Edward Kennedy, in the most recent rating, 2004, has a 100 percent rating out of 100 points.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MS. CLIFT: Oh, that's going to really deter Democrats. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also, Obama has a very high liberal rating on his performing for two years in the Senate.

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think adding liberal to liberal for Obama in today's society is going to be helpful to him?

MS. CLIFT: I think if he gets --

MR. WALKER: In the Democratic primaries?

MS. CLIFT: In the Democratic primaries, it's gold. In the fall, I'm sure the Republican --

MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Kennedys --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish. Let her finish. MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. In the fall, the Republican National Committee is probably stockpiling those photos.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: But, you know, that's really old-style politics. And I think the country --

MR. BUCHANAN: But the Kennedys are yesterday. Camelot is dead 45 years.

MS. CLIFT: Caroline Kennedy --

MR. BUCHANAN: They went through LBJ, Reagan --

MS. CLIFT: Caroline Kennedy is tomorrow. And you're still putting together --

(Cross-talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are you saying? What are you saying?

MR. WALKER: Eleanor, you're being too mechanical about this.

MS. CLIFT: Caroline Kennedy -- I am not; I'm just trying to --

MR. WALKER: This is about passion. The Democratic Party wants to fall in love with its candidate, and that's what the whole Kennedy magic is about. It's Kennedy magic. It's Luther King magic. And Obama is being presented as somehow the holy union of them both. That is the new idea to fall in love with for Democrats.

MS. CLIFT: And this is from people who are still trying to put together the Reagan coalition, and you're telling me --

MR. BUCHANAN: But Kennedy was 20 years before that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Pat.

MS. CLIFT: Caroline Kennedy is tomorrow.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Hold on. I want to hear quickly from you.

MS. CROWLEY: The Kennedys? I mean, what's next, the Beatles invade America? I mean, look --

MS. CLIFT: That would be helpful too.

MS. CROWLEY: -- Bill and Hillary Clinton would have walked over their grandmother for the Kennedy endorsement.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit -- MS. CROWLEY: In fact, Bill picked up the phone. He tried to stop Ted from doing it. It does help Barack Obama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. One-word answer; we're out of time. Who won the Democratic debate? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it was a draw; slightly to Obama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wrong. Come on, Pat.

MS. CLIFT: I think it was a draw. They both did well, making Democrats agonize.

MS. CROWLEY: Obama.

MR. WALKER: It was Obama on points.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hillary won the debate.

Issue Two: McCain Takes Florida.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ, Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) I offer my best wishes to Governor Romney and his supporters. You fought hard. (Applause.) You fought hard for your candidate. And the margin that separated us tonight surely isn't big enough for me to brag about or for you to despair.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Senator John McCain is the new Republican front- runner. Registered Republicans voted in the Florida primary -- McCain, 36 percent; Romney, 31; Giuliani, 15; Huckabee, 14; Paul, 3.

A day after the primary, Wednesday, at the Republican debate, the air was tense. A McCain-Romney face-off centered on the Iraq war. McCain accused Romney of wanting to set a withdrawal date for American forces in Iraq, quoting Romney from an interview last April.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

SEN. MCCAIN: He said he wanted a timetable. April was a very interesting year in 2007. That's when Harry Reid said, "The war is lost and we've got to get out." And the buzz word was timetables, timetables.

Governor, the right answer to that question was no, not what you said.

MITT ROMNEY (Republican presidential candidate and former governor of Massachusetts): I do not propose, nor have I ever proposed, a public or secret date for withdrawal. This is simply wrong. And, by the way, raising it a few days before the Florida primary, when there was very little time for me to correct the record, when the question I was most frequently asked is, "Oh, you're for a specific date of withdrawal?" sort of falls in the kind of dirty tricks that I think Ronald Reagan would have found to be reprehensible.

Is it not fair to have the person who's being accused of having a position he doesn't have be the expert on what his position is? How is it that you're the expert on my position when my position has been very clear? (Cheers, applause.)

SEN. MCCAIN: I'm the expert --

MR. ROMNEY: I'll tell you, this is the kind of --

SEN. MCCAIN: I'm on the expert on this one.

(End videotaped segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Did McCain's timetable attack on Romney turn the tables in Florida? Martin Walker.

MR. WALKER: It certainly helped.

But I think the really important thing is the way in which McCain won by that 5 percent margin, despite being outspent on TV ads in Florida by something like 10 to one. That makes it a really much more powerful win.

The other point, I think, is that Romney's reputed strongest point, which was his power on the economy, his vaunted reputation there, didn't avail him very much at all. And the reason for that, quite simply, is because this kind of economic crisis we're going through at the moment is one that was delivered and manufactured by people like Romney -- the MBAs, the guys with the fancy financial footwork. And people know that.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, what happened down in Florida was this. Look, Charlie Crist's endorsement, I think, was more important than --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who is he?

MR. BUCHANAN: He's the governor or Florida. But, look, Romney was hit right in the back of the head by McCain. It was a cheap shot. If Romney ever said that, McCain would have pounded him every day since April. But it worked. It knocked Romney off his game. It got it back to the national security issue. But McCain's being hurt because everybody, including the media, are saying it was a cheap shot, a low blow, and it was a rotten thing to do.

MS. CLIFT: But it's a cheap shot that goes to the underlying unease about Romney, and that is that he switches his position all the time. And if you're looking out there, you assume that he's probably switched his position on that as well.

MS. CROWLEY: Well, and what's remarkable, though, about John McCain, inexplicably to a lot of conservatives becoming the Republican front-runner, is this thunder on the right against John McCain. Conservatives look at McCain and say he's bad on illegal immigration. He's bad on the Bush tax cuts. He's bad on the anti-torture legislation. He's bad on campaign finance, bad on the Gang of 14. And that's just in the last seven years.

But, but, I think Republicans, first and foremost now, are putting electability ahead of everything else. They're looking at these national polls and they're seeing that McCain can beat Hillary and Obama by a substantial margin. And they're also saying, "Well, wait a minute. John McCain has been described in the press for 30 years as 'the conservative Republican from Arizona.'"

MR. BUCHANAN: Speak for yourself, Monica. (Laughs.)

MS. CROWLEY: No, no. I'm not endorsing John McCain, but I'm saying that he's got a long track record of cutting taxes, of cutting the budget --

MS. CLIFT: How is somebody --

MS. CROWLEY: -- of being a national security hawk, and pro-life for 35 years.

MS. CLIFT: How is somebody bad on anti-torture legislation?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out.

MS. CLIFT: That is a good thing. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out. Who's going to win on Super Tuesday? Is it going to be McCain or is it going to be Romney?

MR. BUCHANAN: McCain will win probably two out of three delegates.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MS. CLIFT: I think McCain. And because of winner-take-all rules, he'll probably --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MS. CLIFT: -- come up with enough delegates.

MS. CROWLEY: I think because conservatives are so agitated, it's going to be a draw between McCain and Romney.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is that? No draws.

MS. CROWLEY: It's a break-even.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Break-even.

MR. WALKER: McCain.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is Romney.

Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Really bad beating for the Republicans in both houses of Congress, John; 28 House Republicans have stepped down. MS. CLIFT: McCain's declaration that we're in for 100 years of wars will hurt him in the fall if he gets the nomination.

MS. CROWLEY: New England Patriots win the Super Bowl but they won't make the spread.

MR. WALKER: It's going to be a horrible year for free traders. Protectionist rhetoric is going to dominate this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict that Iraq will overtake the bad economy as the bigger lever issue in the November presidential election.

Happy Mardi Gras. Bye-bye.

(PBS segment.)

Issue Three: Time Is Long, Elections Are Short.

We have remaining in the calendar year, after big Super Tuesday, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October -- nine months to go, nine months to go. Isn't this a ridiculous process? Can you imagine what those stump speeches are going to sound like to the listener when we hear them again and again over the course of these months?

MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, a lot of Americans just have begun to tune in. Second of all, the Democratic contest may not be over next week. Third, you could get Mayor Bloomberg coming into the race, especially if Obama doesn't get the nomination. He wants the "Let's all compromise together" message. And then we can all start speculating about vice presidential candidates. John, this is a feast. (Laughs.)

MR. WALKER: And fourth and fifth, we've got -- I think we're pretty sure that both Iraq and the economy will make sure there's lots of new things to be talking about.

MR. BUCHANAN: And the opposition-research boys, John, as soon as the candidates are known, will step out there and start defining them with surrogates and attacks in order to make a fixed impression in the mind of the electorate that you don't want this guy or this gal as president of the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think on Super Tuesday the rabbit will be out of the hat and that's the end of that, let's move on, and then what happens?

MS. CROWLEY: Well, and then, like you say, we've got nine months, the human gestation period, between Super Tuesday and the general election. We're already bored with the stump speeches. This campaign has been ongoing for two years as it is. So I think that -- MR. WALKER: And with all those TV ads.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does the time benefit any particular candidate?

MR. WALKER: Well, it certainly benefits the TV companies with all the ads that are going to be played.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does it help Hillary? Does it help Obama?

MR. WALKER: It helps Obama.

MS. CLIFT: The electorate is more engaged than they have been in a long time.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I don't think it helps Obama --

MR. WALKER: It helps Obama.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- because he'll be cut up.

MS. CLIFT: A record turnout.



END.