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, FEBRUARY 15, 2008 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 16-17, 2008
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One -- A Long and Winding Road.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: (From videotape.) This is a long journey to the nomination. You know, some weeks, you know, one of us is up and the other is down, and then we reverse it. And as many of you who have followed this from the very beginning know, it's a long and winding road. And we're all picking up delegates as we go.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The road to the presidential nomination is long and winding. And for Hillary, it is also uphill and steep. That was underlined by the scale, the breadth and the depth of Hillary's eight consecutive losses to Barack Obama over the past week, including Virginia, Maryland and D.C. Hillary now faces three more weeks of political obituaries before the big states of Texas and Ohio on March 4, which Hillary hopes to win and thus slow down the Obama juggernaut. Obama has slightly more than 1,200 delegates to Hillary's slightly fewer than 1,200. No one, by the way, agrees on an exact count of pledged delegates. CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, the AP, The New York Times, all vary on Obama's margin; figures ranging from 25 to 109.
As to whether Hillary could pull it out and get the numbers needed to win the Democratic nomination, Obama's campaign manager this week said, quote-unquote, "highly unlikely."
Question: At week's end, Hillary was declared the winner in New Mexico. That was one of Super Tuesday's states, whose election had been too close to call. Is that a consolation prize in any way for Hillary?
MR. BUCHANAN: That's irrelevant, John. The relevant facts here are Obama is leading in pledged delegates won in caucuses and primaries by almost 125. If Obama wins the pledged delegate race, which it looks like he's going to do, he's almost pulling out too far ahead.
Hillary Clinton has got to win the popular vote/raw vote totals to have any claim on the super-delegates. The super-delegates cannot reverse a decision by the voters and by the pledged delegates, in my judgment. If they do, or if they did, the Democratic Convention in Denver would look like Grant Park, 1968.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I remember.
MR. BUCHANAN: And my friend over here, Clarence, could tell you what that was like. We were both there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me a quick answer to this. What's the history of super-delegate voting in following the numbers of voters pledged?
MR. BUCHANAN: Super-delegates took the nomination for Walter Mondale away from Gary Hart. Gary Hart is not Barack Obama. He doesn't have an impassioned national following, which cannot be denied if it wins the popular vote.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Also, Walter Mondale had a significant lead in earned or won delegates over Gary Hart, although he didn't have the magic 2,025. So there was an element, or at least an aura, of fairness when the super-delegates acted then.
Look, Barack Obama has won more states, more popular vote and more delegates than Hillary Clinton. If she wins the three mega- states at the end of the process, toward the end of the process -- Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- by margins of two to one, it's still difficult for her to mathematically catch up with Barack Obama because of the Democrats' proportional representation.
So it almost certainly, unless Obama really does break away -- and there's some indication that he might -- it's almost certain to turn to the super-delegates. And they could begin to break with the popular vote. And John Lewis, a member of Congress from Georgia, legendary civil rights figure, said on Friday that he might vote for Barack Obama, given that's what the wish is of his constituents, even though he has endorsed Hillary Clinton.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's really bringing coal to Newcastle, because he has all of the black vote now. He's got 65 percent of the black vote; Obama does.
MS. CLIFT: Well, John Lewis is a super-delegate, however. And super-delegates count, whatever their color is.
MS. CROWLEY: Hillary's only hope now is to go into rehab. She needs a Hail Mary pass. Rehab senator -- trust me.
Look, Barack Obama has cut, and deeply, into every major core constituency that had been carrying Hillary Clinton to this point -- women, low-income voters, senior citizens, even in a lot of states into the Hispanic vote. This is a very grave situation for Hillary. And the problem for Hillary is that she's got 100 percent name recognition and a 50 percent negative rating, meaning everybody knows her, and yet half the country still can't stand her.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hillary --
MS. CROWLEY: The more people get to know Barack Obama -- and here he has the luxury of time going into some of these other states -- the more they get to know Obama, the more they gravitate toward him, the more they like him, John. That's a huge advantage.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hillary has 65 percent of blue-collar white males.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you make of that? That's a sizable constituency.
MS. CROWLEY: Right. But even that has been slipping over the last couple of states. Now, going into Ohio and Texas, and even Pennsylvania, her numbers are holding steady. Those constituencies for her seem to be holding ground. But whether or not, over the next two weeks, it will is the question.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Democrats who support Obama are yuppies, are they are not? Young urban professionals. MR. PAGE: That's the stereotype, and it's largely true that Obama attends to attract the wine-and-cheese crowd. Hillary Clinton tracks the beer-and-pretzels crowd.
And going into Ohio, which I just came from, John, my good old home state -- go Bobcats. I'm an Ohio U. grad, not a Buckeye. But anyway, it's an economically devastated state. It's an old factory state, blue-collar, lots of displaced workers.
And Hillary Clinton has been doing very well up until now, but Obama is pouring it on to make himself better known in the state. And the more he does become known -- Monica's got a very good point; the more he does become known, the better he does.
The thing is, though, the more exuberant that some of us journalists sound, because we're looking for a brokered convention or whatever, the more Hillary tends to drum up last-minute backlashes in her favor. (Laughs.) And it fools us and the pollsters.
MS. CROWLEY: If these numbers hold in her favor and Ohio and Texas, and even in Pennsylvania, it may indicate a little bit of an Obama mania backlash that we haven't tapped into yet.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, don't forget, Hillary is very strong with women.
MR. PAGE: She is very strong with women --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So she's got women and she's got --
MR. PAGE: -- especially, by the way, older women.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- she's got blue-collar whites.
MR. PAGE: Older women and single women in particular in the --
MR. BUCHANAN: But John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Hillary uproar.
Hillary replaced her campaign manager this week. Out -- Patti Solis Doyle. In -- Maggie Williams. Williams served as Hillary's chief of staff when Hillary was first lady.
Question: What does Hillary's staff shakeup mean, Eleanor Clift? MS. CLIFT: It mostly means they're confused about what to do next. Patti Solis Doyle and Maggie Williams were essentially sharing the job. Maggie Williams was brought in after New Hampshire. They've changed their message. They're now emphasizing that she offers solutions, not promises. They can't decide whether to aggressively compete in Wisconsin. I mean, this is a campaign that realizes that if they don't stake a strong claim in Texas and Ohio that they're done.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, somebody should have been fired in this campaign, and fired early on. And the reason is, Hillary Rodham Clinton should have had a tremendous base, and did. She was winning this race two to one in the national polls. And they failed to organize in the caucus states all over the country when they had a tremendous advantage over Obama, and he rolls in and wins more delegates out of Idaho than she won in winning in New Jersey.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --
MR. BUCHANAN: When that happens, that is a failure of the people running the caucus states, and they should have been cleaned out. But it's too late for that now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Hillary should favor the caucus states?
MR. BUCHANAN: She should have gotten the caucus states, her share of the votes, in every caucus state. She's getting beat by 25, 30 points in a caucus state, the wife of the former president of the United States for eight years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think Hillary does better in the primary states, and she ought to --
MR. BUCHANAN: She's doing better --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- concentrate on the primaries.
MR. BUCHANAN: She should do the primary states, you're right, the big states. But you can't lose by 25 points in the caucus states.
MS. CLIFT: There are all these delegates in the caucus states that she has basically ceded. And she's blown through $100 million. Somebody, I agree, ought to be held on account of negligence.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MS. CLIFT: They had no post-February 5 plan.
MS. CROWLEY: Here's the problem.
MS. CLIFT: They assumed that she would have the nomination locked up on February 5. And when it didn't happen, they had no money and no plan. MS. CROWLEY: Here's the problem -- bringing back Maggie Williams. I mean, it's like, what, Janet Reno wasn't available? This is the Clintons' idea of change, bringing back the 1993 White House chief of staff for Hillary Clinton. Remember, Maggie Williams was Hillary Clinton's most brutal and loyal enforcer. She's the one that sanitized the Vince Foster files after that suicide. She's the one who worked with Betsey Wright to contain the bimbo eruptions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is she going to go negative?
MS. CROWLEY: She knows where the bodies are buried, and she buries them.
MR. BUCHANAN: Hillary's got to go --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is she going to go negative? Is that what we're hearing?
MS. CROWLEY: Absolutely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Hillary blood-letting.
In 1992, Bill Clinton won the U.S. presidential election. His campaign manager was David Wilhelm. Wilhelm this week endorsed Obama.
Question: Is Wilhelm now eligible for our December '08 turncoat of the year award? Monica Crowley.
MS. CROWLEY: You'll remember I gave last year's turncoat award to David Geffen, who David Wilhelm should actually take to dinner and thank, because David Geffen was the first very close friend of the Clintons, frequent Lincoln Bedroom guest, overnight guest, knew them very well, to say, "They're liars. I don't trust them. I'm embracing Obama."
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. CROWLEY: He made it safe for guys like Wilhelm to do it.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, how like a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you gone through --
MR. PAGE: Wilhelm, though -- Wilhelm did a lot for Clinton back in 1992.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you -- (inaudible) -- from your political so-called allies? Have they turned on you?
MR. BUCHANAN: The brigades want to march again, John. (Laughs.) MS. CLIFT: Look, David Wilhelm was on board in '92. But I recall he didn't have that long a career in the Clinton administration, so he may have some resentment. But he's from Chicago. You know, it's very hard to be from Chicago and not be for the favorite son who's taking --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, still more bleeding.
Hillary now faces a number of likely defeats among the 17 caucuses and primaries -- Hawaii, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, Wyoming, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota.
You saw the lettering different on the screen for Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. Those are must-win states for Hillary, are they not, Clarence?
MR. PAGE: Yes, they are now. We used to call it must-win states for Obama.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's double-digit ahead in Ohio and Pennsylvania right now.
MR. PAGE: That's right. And because of Obama's streak now, it becomes more important for her to win those states. Also we expect her to win those states because she tends to do better in those big states and the more industrial states. But as I said, if there's any possibility or any vulnerability for her, it's Ohio in particular, where there are a lot of undecided voters still.
MR. BUCHANAN: She should be winning her share of the rest of those states as well as winning the big states. If she wins those three, John, she will have won eight of the 10 biggest states, losing only Georgia and Illinois, and be losing the nomination. Something's wrong with a campaign when that happens.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. "Change is not only a word." Senator Clinton says that Senator Obama is treating "change" as a word, not as a reality. Nor is he offering any programs to make that reality happen.
SEN. CLINTON: (From videotape.) You know, some people may think words are change. But you and I know better. Words are cheap. I know it takes work.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question -- Is there a "Where's the beef" factor with Obama, with his campaign high on tone but short on substance? And where there is substance, is he stealing that substance from another candidate? You know about that -- the economic plan of Obama.
MR. PAGE: Yeah, there's that dispute about who got which idea first. You know, when it gets down to cutting the apple that slices that thin, I don't know that the voters care. If you want to know Obama's specifics --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he stealing his economic message from Hillary?
MR. PAGE: No. I would say no. Some people may disagree, but the fact is that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Line for line, some of the commentators are saying.
MS. CLIFT: There's very little difference between them on the issues. You know, who came up with the fund for infrastructure relief first? I mean, I don't think the election is going to be decided on that. But Obama does have to get over the notion that he's a skimpy character who really isn't offering substantive plans for the future.
MS. CROWLEY: Although --
MS. CLIFT: And I think he's got plenty of substance. He's got good advisers. He's offered an economic plan, a health care plan.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he any comparison to her on substance?
MS. CLIFT: He can easily be that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, let's see whether this makes a difference. Just how liberal are they?
Who is the most, quote-unquote, "liberal" senator of 2007? The National Journal has released its ratings based on 99 key votes in the Senate. Number one most liberal -- Barack Obama, 95.5; Senator Hillary Clinton placing 16th, 82.8. So it's Obama first out of 100 senators, Hillary 16th.
Question: If negative, how negative is the liberal label? Monica.
MS. CROWLEY: It helps him in the primaries. Clearly he's ahead. But it will kill him in the general election. You know who he inherited that mantle from of most liberal U.S. senator? John Kerry -- John Kerry, who lost to George W. Bush in 2004, a very unpopular president with an unpopular war.
MS. CLIFT: But a very different dynamic. MR. PAGE: Those figures were disputed back then with John Kerry and they're disputed now. And I say, who cares? John Kerry lost for other reasons. It wasn't because of the National Journal.
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, if you run as a Democrat this year against a Republican, you should win. If you run as a liberal against a moderate conservative --
MR. PAGE: Which he will not do.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- you lose. Bernie Sanders --
MS. CLIFT: If he runs --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish, Eleanor.
MR. BUCHANAN: Bernie Sanders, who is a socialist senator, was beaten out by Barack Obama. He's demanding a recount, John. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How odious, if it's odious, or how damaging, is a liberal label today?
MR. BUCHANAN: If it can be made to stick, it can finish him in many of the industrial states.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why, because the country is not liberal?
MS. CLIFT: No. Yesterday's --
MR. BUCHANAN: Liberal is a pejorative term.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Even Democrats don't use it. They use progressive.
MS. CLIFT: It is yesterday's politics buried with Karl Rove. Barack Obama is transcending all of these labels. You can yell "liberal" all you want --
MR. BUCHANAN: Transcendence. (Laughs.)
MR. PAGE: It's true.
MS. CLIFT: You can yell "liberal" all you want and you won't --
MR. PAGE: They tried it.
MR. BUCHANAN: You wait.
MR. PAGE: They tried to kill Obama that way in Illinois and it didn't work.
MR. BUCHANAN: Alan Keyes -- it didn't work for Alan Keyes. MR. PAGE: Of course, he had Alan Keyes, but nevertheless. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he have --
MR. PAGE: Obama has never run as a liberal. Obama's never run as a liberal and not about to run as a liberal. He runs as a come- together candidate who works with Republicans and has got a long track record of doing it.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, you can tell --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've got 100 senators, right? He's number one in liberalism.
You know that.
MS. CLIFT: And he's --
MR. PAGE: They're going to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You can take it or leave it.
MR. PAGE: They'll put it on ads. They'll put it on bumper stickers. But it means nothing.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, you can tell by the attitude you're hearing over here that it's a problem.
MR. PAGE: (Inaudible) -- beating the same horse over and over again, you're going to hit pay dirt. That's right.
MS. CLIFT: Trying to get a word in edge-wise -- he is running in the primaries on Hillary's right. He is a third-way kind of character.
MR. PAGE: That's right.
MR. BUCHANAN: You just wait, Eleanor. Wait till Republicans --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will the real Obama please stand up? Is that what you're saying?
MR. PAGE: If that's all you've got, he's got no problems.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit -- On a doomsday scale of zero to 10, zero meaning zero doom, 10 meaning absolute, metaphysical doom, a total wipeout, annihilation, nothing remaining, how much doom does Hillary face in the November election? Pat Buchanan.
MS. CLIFT: Hillary?
MR. BUCHANAN: Does Hillary face? Look, Hillary's problem is just what Monica said. She's got 49 percent negative and 48 percent positive in the national poll. I think she's got a real problem. She can win, but it's an uphill ride. And it depends on Ohio and it depends on Florida.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, quickly, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Hillary can win with a Rove-style election of really bringing out --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is she at a five?
MS. CLIFT: She could win.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She could win?
MS. CLIFT: She could win the same states John Kerry did and Al Gore --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Hillary --
MS. CROWLEY: Hillary Clinton is about a seven because of all of the baggage.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Seven doom? That's high.
MS. CROWLEY: Seven doom, especially because she's running against John McCain, who's a moderate and can attract all of the people she cannot.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MR. PAGE: I'm not counting her out, but she's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say, a five doom?
MR. PAGE: She's not going to clinch it. You're going to go to the super-delegates. She's still in the game.
MR. BUCHANAN: If they steal it, I'd make it a nine. If they steal this from Obama, I'd make it a nine, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, this is not hypothetical. Give me an answer.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look, she's not going to win the pledged delegates, and she may not win the raw vote.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, the answer is she's four doom right now.
Issue Two -- Stand Aside.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: (From videotape.) I am fired up and ready to go. (Cheers, applause.) Thank you, and God bless you. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Senator John McCain won all three Republican presidential primaries this week -- Virginia, Maryland, D.C. -- as did Senator Barack Obama. McCain defeated Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor. McCain also won a big endorsement from former candidate Mitt Romney.
FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: (From videotape.) I am honored today to give my full support to Senator McCain's candidacy for the presidency of the United States.
With their rhetoric, our Democratic opponents are very skilled at striking heroic poses. But with a Republican nominee, we're going to offer America the real thing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before suspending his campaign, Romney had garnered 288 delegates. He released those delegates to John McCain on Thursday.
Question: Does Romney's endorsement seal the deal? Is McCain now the inevitable Republican nominee? I ask you, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, absent celestial intervention, I think he's going to get the nomination.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Absent what?
MR. BUCHANAN: Celestial intervention.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it happens, Pat. May he rest in peace, Paul Wellstone. John Heinz was killed in an airplane crash.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, let's not speculate on it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Death comes in the night on cats' paws, Pat. You never know.
MR. BUCHANAN: On little cats' feet. That's the fog, John, that comes in on little cats' feet.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I changed it -- Sandburg be damned. (Laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: Romney brings something like 270 delegates. It leaves McCain just 70 delegates short of victory. So I don't see how Mr. Huckabee can overtake him unless there's a miracle, and he says he's in the miracles business. So let him keep believing.
MS. CROWLEY: Yeah. John McCain was the nominee last week. He's the nominee this week. He will be the nominee next week, for three reasons -- and this is something that nobody else has pointed out. I think there's a huge unspoken revenge impulse out there among a lot of Republicans, some independents, and even some moderate Democrats --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is it?
MS. CROWLEY: -- who like John McCain and who think he got stiffed in 2000, and they want to make it up to him.
MR. PAGE: True.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you believe some of your conservative friends are going to vote -- do you think Limbaugh is going to vote for --
MS. CROWLEY: I don't know what my friends --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think he's going to vote for McCain?
MR. BUCHANAN: What he's going to do, John, is he's going to lay the wood on Barack Obama if he's the nominee. That's what he's going to do.
MR. PAGE: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, the $92 million candidate.
SEN. MCCAIN: (From videotape.) And the senator from Illinois, who says that he wants transparency in government, will not reveal the number of earmarks that he received in 2006 and 2005. The senator from Illinois, because he's junior, had only gotten about $92 million.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: McCain is talking about Obama, as we know. Are earmarks as bad as McCain says they are, Clarence?
MR. PAGE: McCain thinks all earmarks are bad. The fact is, there are a lot of good earmarks. I mean, these are things --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's an earmark? MR. PAGE: This is the gravy. This is what members of Congress --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's an earmark?
MR. PAGE: -- bring home to their districts or to their states insofar as civic improvements and other physical improvements, et cetera, et cetera. The bridge to nowhere is the lampoon of all this. But voters like them, and that's why --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that's too esoteric for the voters to understand?
MR. BUCHANAN: The museum for Woodstock was a good one, one of Hillary's things.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the earmark rap is too esoteric?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think the earmark rap is very much inside the Beltway, quite frankly. I don't think it's a good issue that really grabs people. What it is is pork-barrel politics.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, see if this is inside the Beltway. Huckabee sues.
Arithmetically, Mike Huckabee has no chance of winning the nomination. Despite the backing of the Bush dynasty, including the president and his brother Jeb, plus Romney's recent endorsement, McCain is still mistrusted by many on the Republican right. But Huckabee has underscored his determination to keep fighting. In fact, he has launched a legal challenge against the outcome in Washington State, where McCain was officially declared the winner with 13 percent of the vote officially uncounted.
FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR MIKE HUCKABEE, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: (From videotape.) That is not what we do in American elections. That may be how they used to conduct it in the old Soviet Union, but you don't just throw people's votes out and say, "Well, we're not going to bother counting them because we kind of think we know where this is going."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it in McCain's interest for Huckabee to drop out? Be careful of this one.
MR. PAGE: No, I think it's in McCain's interest for Huckabee to stay in.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?
MR. PAGE: Because it keeps McCain in the headlines.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent. Excellent. MR. PAGE: Thank you, John. I've learned my lessons well, haven't I?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You have, indeed.
MR. PAGE: That's right. You saw what happened when Rudy Giuliani was out of the headlines.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's nine months to go. McCain would run out of steam. They'll all be running out of steam. How many times will we have heard those stump speeches?
MR. PAGE: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right?
MR. PAGE: That's right.
MR. BUCHANAN: We'll hear it every night. Every week, John, there's an election and Huckabee gets beat, McCain can come out and give a speech. He ought to improve a little bit on the speech (thing ?).
MS. CROWLEY: It's also great preparation for John McCain for the general election, too, because it keeps him in a more moderate, reasonable tone.
MR. PAGE: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Well, he's a very weak sparring partner. I don't think he's going to get that much friendly vibes from the Democrats in the fall. But, look, Huckabee wins here too. He doesn't have a day job. He needs to keep his profile out there and make some money to pay the mortgage.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: John McCain will be 72 years of age if and when he takes over the presidency in, what --
MS. CLIFT: 2009.
MR. BUCHANAN: 2009.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- 2009. Okay, is that going to hurt him, his age? Is it going to hurt him in this race?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he's older than everybody on this panel, almost, John. (Laughter.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is called "The Longevity Revolution," an excellent book that's --
MR. BUCHANAN: That would be something you would be reading, right, John?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have an advance --
MR. PAGE: I want a copy of that too, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Robert N. Butler, M.D.
MR. BUCHANAN: Did they send you a complimentary copy?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is the most amazing text. Do you know that babies born today can expect to live 30 years longer than anybody on this panel? Did you know that? Did you know that age 65 --
MR. BUCHANAN: One hundred and fifteen? They can live to 115, John?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- is ridiculous -- (inaudible) -- or anything like entitlements?
MR. BUCHANAN: The stock market is still swooning. Bernanke, at the next meeting of the Fed, will cut the basis rate -- the interest rate by 50 basis points, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifty?
MR. BUCHANAN: Fifty, yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Incredible.
MS. CLIFT: President Bush's positive legacy will be the work he's done with AIDS and malaria in Africa, which is why he's going to Africa over the coming weekend. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: And it's one thing that I can applaud him for.
MS. CROWLEY: I now think that the trial of Tony Rezko, which is due to begin on March 3rd, will have a bigger impact on this campaign than any of us foresaw.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sounds like you're saying more than you're saying.
MS. CROWLEY: It sounds like the Clinton campaign is alluding to something.
MR. PAGE: You're right, because that's all they've got. (Laughs.) It's going to be maybe ads and rumors.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait and see, Clarence.
MR. PAGE: My prediction is the American College of Physicians has just come out in favor of moving marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2, meaning it does have redeeming qualities. And this puts new pressure on the AMA now to agree.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We pass out the reefers after the show. (Laughter.)
I predict that when Fidel Castro dies, Cuban political insiders will not take over the Cuban government. The Cuban military will, and it will introduce democratic freedoms.
Issue Three -- He Said, He Said.
BRIAN MCNAMEE, FORMER NEW YORK YANKEES TRAINER: (From videotape.) I was once the personal trainer for one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball, Roger William Clemens. During the time that I worked with Roger Clemens, I injected him on numerous occasions with steroids and human growth hormone.
ROGER CLEMENS, BASEBALL PITCHER: (From videotape.) Let me be clear. I have never taken steroids or HGH.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At the House hearing on baseball and steroids this week, Democratic members tended to support the accuser, Brian McNamee, and Republicans tended to support the accused, Roger Clemens. Why did this happen? I ask you, Clarence.
MR. PAGE: Because everything in Washington -- (laughs) -- is partisan these days -- (laughs) -- for the last decade. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why? Why? Is Clemens --
MR. PAGE: I hear Clemens is close to Bush. I don't know. It looked to me like reflex, though, because you had the Democrats holding the hearing. Republicans had to oppose it. (Laughs.)
MS. CROWLEY: You know, the hearings were riveting. I literally stopped in the middle of my living room to watch it.
MR. PAGE: Forget the war and all that stuff.
MS. CROWLEY: I think all the members of Congress were star- struck by Roger Clemens. And frankly, none of them knew what in the world they were talking about.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will Clemens be found guilty or will he be found innocent by this committee?
MS. CROWLEY: By this committee? I think they're going to let him go.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. PAGE: I think they'll let him go.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think they're going to recommend perjury.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MS. CLIFT: Right. It almost doesn't matter. They have no power. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five say he will be let go.
MS. CLIFT: Irrelevant.