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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR; DEREK MCGINTY, WUSA-TV TAPED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2008 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 25-26, 2008

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DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Rout or Horse Race or Neither?

Obama, 52 percent; McCain, 39 percent. Obama by 13. CBS/New York Times.

Obama, 52; McCain, 40. Obama by 12. Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby.

Obama, 52; McCain, 42. Obama by 10. NBC/Wall Street Journal.

Obama, 49; McCain, 40. Obama by nine. Fox News.

Obama, 50; McCain, 42. Obama by eight. Ipsos/McClatchy. Obama, 52; McCain, 45. Obama by seven. Rasmussen.

Obama, 48; McCain, 43. Obama by five. Hotline.

Obama, 49; McCain, 45. Obama by four. GWU/Battleground.

Obama, 45; McCain, 44. Obama by one. IBD/TIPP.

Question: What explains the divergence between the IBD/TIPP poll, showing a dead heat between the two candidates for president, and other polls showing Obama with a double-digit lead? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: The IBD poll could be an outrider. A number of times it had Obama ahead by enormous amounts, and others showing it even. My guess is it's something of an outrider.

I do think McCain may be slightly closing. But the problem is he must be, I would say, John, at least seven or eight points behind nationally. And the state-by-state polls, every single tossup state, which McCain has to win all of them, they're all red states. So I think it's a very uphill battle for John McCain, 10 days before this election.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's also challenging to the pollster, i.e., modeling for this --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I think it certainly is.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- like the size of the turnout?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look, some people overweight the Democrats. Others overweight the independents or the Republicans. But when all of them seem to say the same thing, I think you have to generally concede they are probably right.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, if you take an average of all the polls, you've still got Barack Obama ahead by a substantial amount. And I must say that Newsweek is coming out with a poll this weekend, and we've got him 13 points ahead among registered voters, 12 points ahead among likely voters. That's the biggest lead of any presidential candidate in a Newsweek poll in late October since Ronald Reagan versus Walter Mondale in 1984.

Now, that lead can be cut, because Bill Clinton was 17 points ahead of Bob Dole and he won by 10 points. But it's not going to be close to the point where you're going to change the outcome of the race. This looks definitely like it's a race that is breaking for Obama. And Democrats on Capitol Hill are going to do very well. This looks like a wave election with substantial Democratic majorities. Eat your heart out, John. (Laughs.) DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica, will you rebut that?

MS. CROWLEY: (Laughs.) I'll try. What's interesting is, at this late midnight hour in the election, in the campaign, we have the polls essentially all over the place, from one point to 13 points, Newsweek, 14 points, I think, CBS/New York Times. The IBD poll that you showed showing a one-point spread, IBD was actually the most accurate poll in the last go-round, in the 2004 race. They called it more closely than anybody else.

Now, there's a difference this year because of young people, because of all of these new registrants that perhaps may not be polled, that may show a greater turnout for Barack Obama. Maybe that's not being captured in some of these traditional models. I don't think the race is one point, but I also don't believe it's 13 or 14 points. I think it's probably somewhere in the middle.

I also have a tendency to believe that it's a lot closer than even five points. I think it's probably a three- or four-point race. Remember the great silent majority -- Pat -- that elected and re- elected Richard Nixon elected and re-elected Ronald Reagan and elected and re-elected George W. Bush against all polling odds. That great silent majority still exists. It's still out there. And it's quiet for a reason.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have pollsters officially been wrong for year after year when they have predicted a youth turnout? The youth does not turn out. Are they doing that here? Is it defective, the modeling of the poll, in any respect?

MS. CROWLEY: I'm not sure about this year, because I think Obama really has energized the youth vote to a great degree, and I think maybe the pollsters are underestimating the turnout there.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've heard that before, though.

MS. CROWLEY: But it's going to work to Obama's advantage.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Welcome, by the way.

MR. MCGINTY: Well, thank you so much, John. Listen, you know, people who are trying to find holes in Obama's big lead are sort of, I think, hopeful, but not very rational.

MS. CLIFT: Right. (Laughs.)

MR. MCGINTY: The fact is, that IBD poll is an outlyer, as you say, Pat. And the fact is, I don't care what the national poll says. What I care about are the state-by-state numbers. IBD doesn't even do a state-by-state poll. So to me they have no credibility to really talk about what's going to happen Election Day, because I want to know what's going to happen in Florida. I want to know what's going to happen in Pennsylvania. As far as the young voters are concerned, the fact is, they all have cell phones. They don't get polled. And if they don't get polled, and 50 percent of them turn out, let's just say, it could change the vote by a couple of percentage points in some key states.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you happen to know whether or not the candidate himself, Barack Obama, shares your view?

MR. MCGINTY: No, I haven't talked to Barack Obama personally and haven't asked him about the polling. Actually, I did have an interview with him last week. I didn't ask him about the polling, though.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did he say to you in the interview?

MR. MCGINTY: Well, we talked a lot about his issues around the campaign finance, for example. I asked him, "You raised $150 million. Have you killed, effectively, the public financing of campaigns? Because who's going to take a chance on" --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did he say to that?

MR. MCGINTY: He said he didn't think he had killed it. He said he thought that the spirit of the thing, which is to not have the big- money donors involved, because he's gotten so many small donors involved, is still alive. And he wants to expand public financing to deal with congressional elections, and so on and so forth.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John --

MR. MCGINTY: That's what he said.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: McCain says he reneged on his oath.

MS. CLIFT: Obama --

MR. MCGINTY: You asked me what he said. I'm telling you what he said.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you talk to McCain about any of this?

MR. MCGINTY: Well, we talked -- McCain and I discussed different issues. We didn't talk campaign finance. We talked about his continued faith in Governor Palin, for example, and the fact that even though more than half of the nation now says they don't think she's qualified to be president, he didn't make a mistake to pick her.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he read you her curriculum vitae?

MR. MCGINTY: He did. He went down the list and said how she's energizing the crowds and how much people love her, but not --

MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where are your sympathies in that regard? Do you think that she's less incapable than is alleged by her adversaries?

MR. MCGINTY: I think there's no -- what I think about her capabilities is not important. What I think is important is it's obvious that the American people are concerned about her. Look, as I said to John McCain, the number one axiom in picking a vice presidential candidate is do yourself no harm. I think it's hard to argue at this point that that pick did him no harm.

MS. CLIFT: Right. Look, Obama is raising $7 million a day. That is one long collective scream from the voters in this country to overturn the political class, largely the Republican ruling class. And that money -- he is spreading the wealth around, and he's advertising in Mississippi, where they haven't seen advertisements from a national Democrat for decades. And the Democrats are positioned to pick up six, seven, maybe more seats on Capitol Hill.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John, Obama is ahead -- you ought to take a look at it. He's ahead in money. He's ahead in enthusiasm. He's ahead in ground troops. He's ahead in the air game. He's ahead in advertising. He's ahead in the polls.

MR. MCGINTY: He's even ahead in whether people think he's a nice guy.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's ahead in temperament. He's ahead in state- by-state polls. It is really an uphill grind for McCain. For McCain to win, he's got to pick up every single tossup state. Obama's at 264. And if he gets Virginia, McCain's got to get Pennsylvania.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's putting a lot of eggs in the Pennsylvania basket.

MR. BUCHANAN: Pennsylvania is the key, because --

MR. MCGINTY: And he's down by double digits in Pennsylvania.

MR. BUCHANAN: What McCain's doing is he's anticipating a loss of one base state, maybe Virginia, maybe Florida. In that case, he's got to have Pennsylvania. Then he can win it. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the coverage that he gets from the so-called Bradley factor?

MR. BUCHANAN: The Bradley effect. There was no real Bradley effect. It's a phony.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who says so?

MR. BUCHANAN: I'll tell you why it was. It's because the Republicans voted early voting and absentee, and they were all in the bank as Bradley was rising. Secondly, they didn't take into account --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's what Barone says in the -- you're quoting Barone in the --

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I'll tell you, there was an anti-gun thing on the ballot. All these guys came out who don't have --

MS. CLIFT: The Bradley --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: But do you have certitude on that?

MS. CLIFT: The Bradley effect --

(Cross-talk.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. There's too many here. I want to hear from Eleanor, then Monica.

MS. CLIFT: The Bradley effect was supposedly a hidden racial bias where people were telling pollsters one thing and then voting against Tom Bradley --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, they don't like to tell pollsters --

MS. CLIFT: Right. There's no reason to hide who you're for. It's perfectly respectable to be for Hillary Clinton or John McCain. It doesn't mean you're a racist. So why are people going to lie to pollsters?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean we've gone beyond anything that may have been true in the past.

(Cross-talk.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me hear from her.

MS. CROWLEY: I think this year -- whatever racial dimension we've talked about in the past is a wash this year. Are there people out there in America who won't vote for Obama because he's black? Sure. But are there people out there who will vote for him strictly on his race or factor in the race as one of the elements? Of course. Obama's getting 94 percent of the black vote. He's also getting a lot of whites through white guilt or liberal guilt that are voting for him --

MS. CLIFT: He's getting regular people who think he's the better candidate.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's nail down the Bradley effect as far as the number is concerned. If you believe in the Bradley effect, you've got to carve off six percentage points. You think that's outlandish in the current circumstances.

MS. CROWLEY: No, I think it's -- well, I don't think it's outlandish, but I think it's a wash this year, because for every person who may not vote for him, there are so many that are going to --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, there's a move toward --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Obama wins nine polls out of nine. Why? Could it be media bias or journalists in the tank for Obama? A Pew study was released this week that surveyed over 2,400 campaign stories from the last six weeks. The study found that while the candidates have been receiving equal coverage, the stories about McCain took a more negative tone. Fifty-nine percent of stories about McCain were negative compared to 14 percent positive. On the other hand, Obama received much better coverage. Twenty-nine percent of stories were negative, 36 percent positive, 35 percent neutral or mixed.

All right, get this. Pew reports that 60 percent of news coverage for McCain is negative -- 60 percent. Seventy percent of news coverage for Obama is positive or neutral. Have political journalists covering the presidential race lost their sense of balance and objectivity? I ask you.

MR. MCGINTY: No, I don't think so. I think the key thing to keep in mind, John, is why is that coverage negative? The coverage is negative because McCain has gone negative. That produces negative coverage. You've got to drill down in those numbers a little bit before you just throw them out.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MS. CROWLEY: No, no. Come on --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: McCain is campaigning the way he is because he wants to get his base out. He wants to get the Republicans out. He is less concerned --

MR. MCGINTY: McCain is campaigning the way he is -- DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He is less concerned about converting people to his cause than he is about getting the base out. If he gets all the Republicans out, he wins the election.

MS. CLIFT: No, he doesn't. There aren't enough Republicans.

MR. MCGINTY: I disagree, John.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, wait a minute. I want to hear you.

MS. CLIFT: There are not enough Republicans. He has to reach out to independents. And the John McCain of 2000 owned independents. He has lost independents in this race; one, his erratic performance in the debates; two, his --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Erratic performance?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, wandering around --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where do you see that? I thought we all agreed it was a good night for McCain.

MS. CLIFT: He lost all those --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that what you said? (Inaudible) -- an erratic performance.

MS. CLIFT: He lost all three debates. And then he reacted to the financial crisis like he was going to suspend his campaign; he was going to skip the debate. And then picking Sarah Palin basically forfeited the only strong card he had, and that was experience. He gave away the election when he nominated her.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you agree with her characterization of McCain in the debates?

MS. CROWLEY: No. I think John McCain won the third debate, which is why he's been able to make up some ground.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's what you said here.

MS. CROWLEY: Yes. And his poll numbers --

MR. MCGINTY: Only to lose it again.

MS. CROWLEY: Look, to blame this negative press coverage on the fact that somehow John McCain went negative, when Barack Obama has been hitting him time and again with negative ads -- "Oh, he wants to stay in Iraq 100 years" -- a flat-out lie, and Obama knew it.

Obama has had the huge advantage in this race of the mainstream media being in the tank for this guy from the beginning. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why?

MS. CROWLEY: Because he is a liberal, because he is --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean the press is liberal.

MS. CROWLEY: Of course they are. That's not even a point of discussion. Every --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember when the last polling was done on the press that was reliable?

MS. CROWLEY: Every presidential election, they poll the White House press corps for all of the major media outlets, and 90 percent --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are they coming up with now?

MS. CROWLEY: -- of them vote for the Democrat.

MS. CLIFT: I love the victimology.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What percent?

MS. CROWLEY: Ninety percent.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ninety percent.

MS. CLIFT: I love the victimology. You and your right-wing (hosts ?) own AM radio.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the media had gone --

MS. CROWLEY: (Inaudible.)

MR. BUCHANAN: The media had gone into the tank as I have never seen it before -- Barack Obama.

MS. CROWLEY: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: He is liberal. He is transformational. They want to be aboard. They missed out on Selma. He's an African-American --

MR. MCGINTY: They missed out on Selma?

MS. CLIFT: Missed out on Selma. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Guilt. It's white guilt.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, that's nonsense.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that showing up in the polls? And is it therefore a reason to discount these heavily Obama polls? MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. Why did The New York Times take up Cindy McCain's past problems with prescription pills and leave alone Barack Obama's problems with cocaine?

MR. MCGINTY: He never had a problem.

MS. CLIFT: He never had a problem.

MR. BUCHANAN: He said --

MR. MCGINTY: All he said -- no, he didn't make it a problem.

MR. BUCHANAN: See, this is a cover-up we're getting, the defense of Obama. (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit --

MS. CLIFT: We could use a little guilt here.

MR. BUCHANAN: Come on. You're riding to the rescue, Derek. (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the press biased in favor of Obama? Yes or no?

MR. BUCHANAN: You betcha. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: The press loves a good story and the press loves winners, but they're not biased towards him because he's a liberal.

MS. CROWLEY: (Laughs.) Of course they are.

MS. CLIFT: They squished Al Gore.

MS. CROWLEY: Oh, come on.

MS. CLIFT: And they squished John Kerry.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Gore and Kerry? Did they squish either one of them?

MS. CROWLEY: Come on, let's be intellectually honest here. The press corps has always been on the left for decades, and this year is no exception.

MR. MCGINTY: I think the press tries as hard as it can to be as fair as it can. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is the press is in the tank for Obama.

Issue Two: Joe Biden Sounds An Alarm.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE, Democratic vice presidential nominee): (From videotape.) Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world's looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old president of the United States of America. Watch. We're going to have an international crisis. It'll generate a crisis to test the mettle of this guy.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was the vice presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, Joe Biden, at a fund-raiser this week in Seattle. Later, Senator Obama was asked what he thought about Senator Biden's comment that he, Senator Obama, as president, within the first six months, would be tested by adversaries and might generate a crisis to test his mettle early in his tenure?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL, Democratic presidential nominee): (From videotape.) Joe sometimes engages in rhetorical flourishes. But I think that his core point was that the next administration is going to be tested regardless of who it is.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Senator McCain was asked what he thought about the Democratic vice presidential nominee's words.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ, Republican presidential nominee): (From videotape.) Senator Biden said, "We will have an international crisis to test America's new president." We don't want a president who invites testing from the world at a time when our economy is in crisis and Americans are already fighting in two wars. What's more troubling is that Senator Obama told their campaign donors that when the crisis hits, they would have to stand with him because it wouldn't be apparent that Senator Obama would have the right response.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Governor Palin also gave her estimate of Senator Biden's words.

ALASKA GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN (Republican vice presidential nominee): (From videotape.) I think it's the most telling comment that has been made yet on this campaign trail in all of these months.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Biden a plus or a minus to the Democratic ticket? Monica Crowley.

MS. CROWLEY: Joe Biden, if he keeps flapping his lips like this, he'll continue to be a drag on this ticket. And when we talked about media bias, you know, they excuse all of these comments by Joe Biden as "Oh, that's Biden being Biden." But if Sarah Palin had made those comments, they would have clobbered her. MR. MCGINTY: And there's a reason for that.

MS. CROWLEY: Look, I think that Joe Biden's comments here about an international crisis and Obama being tested raises a very important question, which is that Obama has campaigned on this idea that he can go out and change the world and fix our reputation in the world and get the rest of the world to respect and love us again.

Well, if all of that is true and he can deliver that, then why is his running mate saying that the world will want to test him?

MS. CLIFT: Why does "change" and "the world" go into air quotes? That's a little bit of a mystery to me.

MS. CROWLEY: Because what I'm saying is --

MS. CLIFT: But, look, I think Senator Biden is an asset --

MS. CROWLEY: -- (inaudible).

MS. CLIFT: Senator Biden is an asset on the ticket because he's campaigning in Pennsylvania and he's bringing Obama some votes he wouldn't otherwise have. He screwed up by saying this. It's a statement that's true. It could have used another sentence saying, "President Obama will respond effectively." But he handed the other side a weapon here in the closing days --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can I give you the real problem that he created?

MS. CLIFT: -- but not enough to change the dynamic of the election.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it changed the discourse from economics now back to international, and that's (a suit ?) they don't want to play with Obama --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, here's what it did --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- because of Obama's inexperience.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, it changed the subject from the economy to Obama's youth and inexperience.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: But more important --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not Obama's inexperience; the international issues.

MR. BUCHANAN: Joe Biden, look, is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. You heard that. That is ominous language. He's supposed to be -- DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he talking about Bay of Pigs or is he talking about the Cuban missile crisis?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, he could be talking about the Berlin Wall crisis. Kennedy called up a million reserves.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: But he mentioned Cuba. Could it be the Cuban missile crisis, which could involve a nuclear force?

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly. But, look, what he's talking about is a major -- could be the Russians in the Ukraine. It could be the Israelis striking Tehran. But the media rushed to his defense instead of saying, "Hold a press conference, Senator Biden. What the devil are you talking about?"

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Biden --

MR. BUCHANAN: They covered for him.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Biden would have been justified in saying the same thing if McCain were president --

MR. BUCHANAN: No, here's the thing --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- or if he had even postulated McCain as president?

MR. BUCHANAN: If McCain said that, he would have been charged with scare-mongering.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, that's not what I mean. Is it because of Obama and his youth and inexperience?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, exactly.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He would be tested -- his mettle would be tested.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would McCain get the same kind of testing?

MR. BUCHANAN: He raised that youth and inexperience issue.

MS. CLIFT: You guys playing the victim is really -- MR. MCGINTY: It definitely put the issue -- you're right, Pat, in one way. It definitely put the issue back on international affairs and his youth and inexperience for about a day and a half, okay? It's not going to be a long-lasting issue.

The second thing is, the reason they didn't treat it the same way as they would have if Sarah Palin had said it is because, as you pointed out, Patrick, Joe Biden's been in the Senate for so many years and has so much experience that you assume that he knows what he's talking about, even if he goes off the reservation --

MS. CROWLEY: Well --

MR. MCGINTY: -- whereas Sarah Palin has shown over and over again she doesn't know much.

MR. BUCHANAN: Derek --

MS. CROWLEY: No, no --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her answer. Let her answer, Pat.

MR. MCGINTY: So that's why what she says has more impact.

MS. CROWLEY: But when conservatives raise the specter of real threats and enemies to America, we're called fear-mongerers. We're called war-mongerers and we use scare tactics. Here is the Democratic vice presidential nominee saying -- he referred to Kennedy, but there's another historical analogy -- al Qaeda. Al Qaeda hit in February of '93 -- brand new president, Bill Clinton. They hit September 11th, 2001 -- brand new president, Republican, George W. Bush. Will they hit us again? And then the question is, do you want Commander in Chief McCain or Commander in Chief Obama?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question -- we've got to get out -- is time between now and the election more on Obama's side or on McCain's side?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Obama would like the election held today, so I think it's on McCain's side.

MS. CLIFT: Of course Obama would like the election held today. But there is not a single indicator out there that suggests this race is --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which side is time on?

MS. CLIFT: I'm going to finish my answer.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MS. CLIFT: There's not a single indicator out there that suggests this race is tightening. So I think the wave builds for Obama, and mostly from Democrats around the country. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it's on Obama's side.

MS. CLIFT: The wave goes on.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Whose side is it on -- time?

MS. CROWLEY: Time is on McCain's side. The problem is, there's not a lot of time left.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which side?

MR. MCGINTY: It's obviously on Obama's side. As you point out, it just hasn't changed over the last four weeks. It's going along.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have the swing vote. (Laughter.) (Inaudible)? No. It's on McCain's side.

MR. BUCHANAN: McCain.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Racing with the Moon.

PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY: (From videotape.) This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: NASA just celebrated its 50th anniversary. The U.S. space agency committed itself to continue its mission; that is, to, quote-unquote, "pioneer the future." Today that future is the Phoenix Mars mission, putting a spacecraft on Mars. The Phoenix rover has a robotic arm that will analyze evidence of interactions between minerals and water -- not ice, but liquid water. The Phoenix mission has been extended to December of this year, when its solar-powered batteries will fade out.

Then, in 2009, NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is sending a new rover to Mars, fitted with a scientific laboratory. The Phoenix rover will be out of commission, and that prototype spacecraft, named Aries V, will take its place. The Aries V will then put earthlings back on the moon, and then on to Mars in a little more than a generation, hopefully 28 years.

NASA head Michael Griffin hopes to have this accomplished by 2037, with the endorsement of President Bush, who is enthusiastic about the mission.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) We will give NASA a new focus and vision for future exploration, to gain a new foothold on the moon and to prepare for new journeys to the worlds beyond our own.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The FY 2009 budget proposal is at $17.6 billion, with $6.8 billion going towards developing the Aries V. Effectively beyond '09, the future NASA budget is in the control of the next president. Question: How can the next president win public support for the Mars mission? I ask you, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: It's not a question about public support. It's a question about congressional support. And there will be no support for this. Congress is going to be worried about generating jobs, and the Mars expedition would generate maybe 200 jobs for scientists. It is dead for the foreseeable future.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we'll see. Okay, the final frontier.

SEN. OBAMA: (From videotape.) We cannot cede our leadership in space. That's why I'm going to close the gap, ensure that our space program doesn't suffer when the shuttle goes out of service, as America leads the world to long-term exploration of the moon and Mars and beyond.

SEN. MCCAIN: (From videotape.) I've always been a strong supporter of manned space flight and NASA. My friends, you just saw the Chinese. You saw them in space. We've got competition. We've got to stay ahead. We will be the first nation to Mars.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, why have you turned against Obama?

MS. CLIFT: That's the first broken promise, whoever is elected. I'm not turning against Obama. I'm saying on the list of --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think he'll get the money?

MS. CLIFT: -- on the list of priorities that he will be facing -- energy, job creation, health care -- this is going to be way down the list. He's not going to spend a lot of political capital --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: But there's going to be a lot of contracts. Why wouldn't those contracts be given out to Americans, and therefore you increase the number of jobs? Therefore you reduce any possible inflation.

MS. CROWLEY: Look, I think it will be a tough sell for budgetary reasons; for political reasons too. But I think every American president from Kennedy has found great political benefit and I think national security benefit. And let's not downgrade hope, which is Barack Obama's whole platform, hope. It gives the American people something beyond themselves to look forward to.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Derek.

MR. MCGINTY: It's certainly nice to talk about. And if you go to the website, they tell a story. On John McCain's website, space is the last issue on the list. And it's not even on Obama's website, okay, because the reality is what Eleanor says. We are broke as a country. We have to deal with so many things right now. Spending billions on a space program -- it's nice to talk about. I'd love to go to Mars. I'd like to go to Jupiter. I want to be on the Enterprise. None of it's going to happen.

MS. CLIFT: Right. You could --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: If we don't parcel this out to China and to India and we have Americans doing this work for NASA, why wouldn't it be a plus? Why couldn't that case be made?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the truth is, what's happening is the Chinese are going to be dominant in outer space. They're going to the moon. Inner space, the Russians are. We're retiring the shuttle. We can't even put our own people up on the space station.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the point for us?

MR. BUCHANAN: The point is, the United States has basically destroyed its economy, and this is going to be one of the first things that goes out. And it's too bad.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is it too bad?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's too bad because that was a great, great -- that's one government program I really thought was terrific.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Derek, you want to say something.

MR. MCGINTY: Well, I recant, John. I agree that time is on McCain's side, but only because he's the only one who still needs time. I believe Obama has made the sale. If the election is tomorrow or if the election is next Tuesday, he wins.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Very tricky, Derek.

Bye-bye.

END.

a outlets, and 90 percent --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are they coming up with now?

MS. CROWLEY: -- of them vote for the Democrat.

MS. CLIFT: I love the victimology.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What percent?

MS. CROWLEY: Ninety percent.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ninety percent.

MS. CLIFT: I love the victimology. You and your right-wing (hosts ?) own AM radio.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the media had gone --

MS. CROWLEY: (Inaudible.)

MR. BUCHANAN: The media had gone into the tank as I have never seen it before -- Barack Obama.

MS. CROWLEY: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: He is liberal. He is transformational. They want to be aboard. They missed out on Selma. He's an African-American --

MR. MCGINTY: They missed out on Selma?

MS. CLIFT: Missed out on Selma. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Guilt. It's white guilt.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, that's nonsense.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that showing up in the polls? And is it therefore a reason to discount these heavily Obama polls? MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. Why did The New York Times take up Cindy McCain's past problems with prescription pills and leave alone Barack Obama's problems with cocaine?

MR. MCGINTY: He never had a problem.

MS. CLIFT: He never had a problem.

MR. BUCHANAN: He said --

MR. MCGINTY: All he said -- no, he didn't make it a problem.

MR. BUCHANAN: See, this is a cover-up we're getting, the defense of Obama. (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit --

MS. CLIFT: We could use a little guilt here.

MR. BUCHANAN: Come on. You're riding to the rescue, Derek. (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the press biased in favor of Obama? Yes or no?

MR. BUCHANAN: You betcha. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: The press loves a good story and the press loves winners, but they're not biased towards him because he's a liberal.

MS. CROWLEY: (Laughs.) Of course they are.

MS. CLIFT: They squished Al Gore.

MS. CROWLEY: Oh, come on.

MS. CLIFT: And they squished John Kerry.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Gore and Kerry? Did they squish either one of them?

MS. CROWLEY: Come on, let's be intellectually honest here. The press corps has always been on the left for decades, and this year is no exception.

MR. MCGINTY: I think the press tries as hard as it can to be as fair as it can. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is the press is in the tank for Obama.

Issue Two: Joe Biden Sounds An Alarm.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE, Democratic vice presidential nominee): (From videotape.) Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world's looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old president of the United States of America. Watch. We're going to have an international crisis. It'll generate a crisis to test the mettle of this guy.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was the vice presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, Joe Biden, at a fund-raiser this week in Seattle. Later, Senator Obama was asked what he thought about Senator Biden's comment that he, Senator Obama, as president, within the first six months, would be tested by adversaries and might generate a crisis to test his mettle early in his tenure?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL, Democratic presidential nominee): (From videotape.) Joe sometimes engages in rhetorical flourishes. But I think that his core point was that the next administration is going to be tested regardless of who it is.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Senator McCain was asked what he thought about the Democratic vice presidential nominee's words.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ, Republican presidential nominee): (From videotape.) Senator Biden said, "We will have an international crisis to test America's new president." We don't want a president who invites testing from the world at a time when our economy is in crisis and Americans are already fighting in two wars. What's more troubling is that Senator Obama told their campaign donors that when the crisis hits, they would have to stand with him because it wouldn't be apparent that Senator Obama would have the right response.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Governor Palin also gave her estimate of Senator Biden's words.

ALASKA GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN (Republican vice presidential nominee): (From videotape.) I think it's the most telling comment that has been made yet on this campaign trail in all of these months.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Biden a plus or a minus to the Democratic ticket? Monica Crowley.

MS. CROWLEY: Joe Biden, if he keeps flapping his lips like this, he'll continue to be a drag on this ticket. And when we talked about media bias, you know, they excuse all of these comments by Joe Biden as "Oh, that's Biden being Biden." But if Sarah Palin had made those comments, they would have clobbered her. MR. MCGINTY: And there's a reason for that.

MS. CROWLEY: Look, I think that Joe Biden's comments here about an international crisis and Obama being tested raises a very important question, which is that Obama has campaigned on this idea that he can go out and change the world and fix our reputation in the world and get the rest of the world to respect and love us again.

Well, if all of that is true and he can deliver that, then why is his running mate saying that the world will want to test him?

MS. CLIFT: Why does "change" and "the world" go into air quotes? That's a little bit of a mystery to me.

MS. CROWLEY: Because what I'm saying is --

MS. CLIFT: But, look, I think Senator Biden is an asset --

MS. CROWLEY: -- (inaudible).

MS. CLIFT: Senator Biden is an asset on the ticket because he's campaigning in Pennsylvania and he's bringing Obama some votes he wouldn't otherwise have. He screwed up by saying this. It's a statement that's true. It could have used another sentence saying, "President Obama will respond effectively." But he handed the other side a weapon here in the closing days --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can I give you the real problem that he created?

MS. CLIFT: -- but not enough to change the dynamic of the election.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it changed the discourse from economics now back to international, and that's (a suit ?) they don't want to play with Obama --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, here's what it did --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- because of Obama's inexperience.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, it changed the subject from the economy to Obama's youth and inexperience.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: But more important --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not Obama's inexperience; the international issues.

MR. BUCHANAN: Joe Biden, look, is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. You heard that. That is ominous language. He's supposed to be -- DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he talking about Bay of Pigs or is he talking about the Cuban missile crisis?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, he could be talking about the Berlin Wall crisis. Kennedy called up a million reserves.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: But he mentioned Cuba. Could it be the Cuban missile crisis, which could involve a nuclear force?

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly. But, look, what he's talking about is a major -- could be the Russians in the Ukraine. It could be the Israelis striking Tehran. But the media rushed to his defense instead of saying, "Hold a press conference, Senator Biden. What the devil are you talking about?"

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Biden --

MR. BUCHANAN: They covered for him.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Biden would have been justified in saying the same thing if McCain were president --

MR. BUCHANAN: No, here's the thing --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- or if he had even postulated McCain as president?

MR. BUCHANAN: If McCain said that, he would have been charged with scare-mongering.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, that's not what I mean. Is it because of Obama and his youth and inexperience?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, exactly.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He would be tested -- his mettle would be tested.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would McCain get the same kind of testing?

MR. BUCHANAN: He raised that youth and inexperience issue.

MS. CLIFT: You guys playing the victim is really -- MR. MCGINTY: It definitely put the issue -- you're right, Pat, in one way. It definitely put the issue back on international affairs and his youth and inexperience for about a day and a half, okay? It's not going to be a long-lasting issue.

The second thing is, the reason they didn't treat it the same way as they would have if Sarah Palin had said it is because, as you pointed out, Patrick, Joe Biden's been in the Senate for so many years and has so much experience that you assume that he knows what he's talking about, even if he goes off the reservation --

MS. CROWLEY: Well --

MR. MCGINTY: -- whereas Sarah Palin has shown over and over again she doesn't know much.

MR. BUCHANAN: Derek --

MS. CROWLEY: No, no --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her answer. Let her answer, Pat.

MR. MCGINTY: So that's why what she says has more impact.

MS. CROWLEY: But when conservatives raise the specter of real threats and enemies to America, we're called fear-mongerers. We're called war-mongerers and we use scare tactics. Here is the Democratic vice presidential nominee saying -- he referred to Kennedy, but there's another historical analogy -- al Qaeda. Al Qaeda hit in February of '93 -- brand new president, Bill Clinton. They hit September 11th, 2001 -- brand new president, Republican, George W. Bush. Will they hit us again? And then the question is, do you want Commander in Chief McCain or Commander in Chief Obama?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question -- we've got to get out -- is time between now and the election more on Obama's side or on McCain's side?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Obama would like the election held today, so I think it's on McCain's side.

MS. CLIFT: Of course Obama would like the election held today. But there is not a single indicator out there that suggests this race is --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which side is time on?

MS. CLIFT: I'm going to finish my answer.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MS. CLIFT: There's not a single indicator out there that suggests this race is tightening. So I think the wave builds for Obama, and mostly from Democrats around the country. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it's on Obama's side.

MS. CLIFT: The wave goes on.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Whose side is it on -- time?

MS. CROWLEY: Time is on McCain's side. The problem is, there's not a lot of time left.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which side?

MR. MCGINTY: It's obviously on Obama's side. As you point out, it just hasn't changed over the last four weeks. It's going along.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have the swing vote. (Laughter.) (Inaudible)? No. It's on McCain's side.

MR. BUCHANAN: McCain.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Racing with the Moon.

PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY: (From videotape.) This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: NASA just celebrated its 50th anniversary. The U.S. space agency committed itself to continue its mission; that is, to, quote-unquote, "pioneer the future." Today that future is the Phoenix Mars mission, putting a spacecraft on Mars. The Phoenix rover has a robotic arm that will analyze evidence of interactions between minerals and water -- not ice, but liquid water. The Phoenix mission has been extended to December of this year, when its solar-powered batteries will fade out.

Then, in 2009, NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is sending a new rover to Mars, fitted with a scientific laboratory. The Phoenix rover will be out of commission, and that prototype spacecraft, named Aries V, will take its place. The Aries V will then put earthlings back on the moon, and then on to Mars in a little more than a generation, hopefully 28 years.

NASA head Michael Griffin hopes to have this accomplished by 2037, with the endorsement of President Bush, who is enthusiastic about the mission.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) We will give NASA a new focus and vision for future exploration, to gain a new foothold on the moon and to prepare for new journeys to the worlds beyond our own.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The FY 2009 budget proposal is at $17.6 billion, with $6.8 billion going towards developing the Aries V. Effectively beyond '09, the future NASA budget is in the control of the next president. Question: How can the next president win public support for the Mars mission? I ask you, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: It's not a question about public support. It's a question about congressional support. And there will be no support for this. Congress is going to be worried about generating jobs, and the Mars expedition would generate maybe 200 jobs for scientists. It is dead for the foreseeable future.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we'll see. Okay, the final frontier.

SEN. OBAMA: (From videotape.) We cannot cede our leadership in space. That's why I'm going to close the gap, ensure that our space program doesn't suffer when the shuttle goes out of service, as America leads the world to long-term exploration of the moon and Mars and beyond.

SEN. MCCAIN: (From videotape.) I've always been a strong supporter of manned space flight and NASA. My friends, you just saw the Chinese. You saw them in space. We've got competition. We've got to stay ahead. We will be the first nation to Mars.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, why have you turned against Obama?

MS. CLIFT: That's the first broken promise, whoever is elected. I'm not turning against Obama. I'm saying on the list of --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think he'll get the money?

MS. CLIFT: -- on the list of priorities that he will be facing -- energy, job creation, health care -- this is going to be way down the list. He's not going to spend a lot of political capital --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: But there's going to be a lot of contracts. Why wouldn't those contracts be given out to Americans, and therefore you increase the number of jobs? Therefore you reduce any possible inflation.

MS. CROWLEY: Look, I think it will be a tough sell for budgetary reasons; for political reasons too. But I think every American president from Kennedy has found great political benefit and I think national security benefit. And let's not downgrade hope, which is Barack Obama's whole platform, hope. It gives the American people something beyond themselves to look forward to.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Derek.

MR. MCGINTY: It's certainly nice to talk about. And if you go to the website, they tell a story. On John McCain's website, space is the last issue on the list. And it's not even on Obama's website, okay, because the reality is what Eleanor says. We are broke as a country. We have to deal with so many things right now. Spending billions on a space program -- it's nice to talk about. I'd love to go to Mars. I'd like to go to Jupiter. I want to be on the Enterprise. None of it's going to happen.

MS. CLIFT: Right. You could --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: If we don't parcel this out to China and to India and we have Americans doing this work for NASA, why wouldn't it be a plus? Why couldn't that case be made?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the truth is, what's happening is the Chinese are going to be dominant in outer space. They're going to the moon. Inner space, the Russians are. We're retiring the shuttle. We can't even put our own people up on the space station.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the point for us?

MR. BUCHANAN: The point is, the United States has basically destroyed its economy, and this is going to be one of the first things that goes out. And it's too bad.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is it too bad?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's too bad because that was a great, great -- that's one government program I really thought was terrific.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Derek, you want to say something.

MR. MCGINTY: Well, I recant, John. I agree that time is on McCain's side, but only because he's the only one who still needs time. I believe Obama has made the sale. If the election is tomorrow or if the election is next Tuesday, he wins.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Very tricky, Derek.

Bye-bye.

END.