THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, WASHINGTON TIMES; CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE TIME: 11:30 A.M. EST BROADCAST DATE: WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 28-29, 2009
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DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Crucial Copenhagen.
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: (From videotape.) This conference is really crucial. We still have time to avoid the worst of the consequences of this cataclysm that's now unfolding, but we don't have a lot of time.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The cataclysm Vice President Gore refers to is the climate phenomenon known as global warming -- the melting of the polar ice caps and the consequent rising in sea levels with their sustained fury and tidal waves.
To avert such a cataclysm, world leaders will meet in Denmark 10 days from now, December 7th, for the 11-day U.N. Copenhagen climate- change conference. The goal is to forge a sweeping agreement that will bind the entire planet to cut toxic carbon emissions that most scientists believe cause global warming. Eyes will be especially focused on two world powers, China and the U.S. Combined, these two superpowers produce almost half of the world's pollution, 40 percent.
Last June, the U.S. House of Representatives voted yes on a climate-change bill. That bill commits to reducing U.S. carbon emissions by 80 percent over the next 40 years. The Senate has yet to pass the bill. This means the U.S. in 10 days could go to Copenhagen empty-handed unless the Senate puts the pedal to the medal and moves this legislation forward.
President Obama has already signed on.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) The days when America dragged its feet on this issue are over.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: If the U.S. does agree to sign a Copenhagen agreement, what impact will that have on U.S. jobs? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I don't think it'll have any impact, John, because I don't think it's going to get through the United States Senate. And there's a reason for that, John, and that's that Al Gore's moment has come and gone.
The truth is they're changing the name to climate change rather than global warming for a reason. For 10 years, the earth has been cooling. 1998 or so was the hottest year. The polar-bear population is doing fine. Antarctica is growing. The ice cap is growing. The Arctic ice cap has stopped shrinking. You take a look around the United States; you're having record cold trends. And you've got this tremendous real problem in the American economy as opposed to this mythical problem of global warming.
And for these reasons, John, I think it's not going to get through the Senate. And I think, as I say, Al Gore's moment has passed. This whole thing was a bit of a hoax designed to transfer power from individuals and wealth to governments and from governments to transnational-international corporations, global institutions. And that time has come and it has gone.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: That was both a minority view and a paranoiac view that it's all a big conspiracy to transfer power. (Laughter.) Al Gore's moment has heralded the moment that we're now in. And you have a troika in the U.S. Senate. John Kerry, Republican Lindsey Graham, Senator Joe Lieberman have joined together to work to get a bill that can get the 60 votes needed in the U.S. Senate. It's not going to happen by the time the president goes to Copenhagen, but serious work on understanding how to address the impact of climate change is underway. And the president will negotiate not a treaty, but some sort of a framework. And the big issue is how much money are the rich nations going to be willing to pony up to help the poor nations weather already the negative effects of climate change that are underway.
MS. CROWLEY: Well, but right there Eleanor just backed up Pat's whole argument that this is all about wealth distribution globally.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, please.
MS. CROWLEY: Look, a couple of things here. First of all, there is a growing body of very skeptical science about climate change and whether or not it is manmade. There are a lot of scientists now saying that the climate change we're seeing is due to solar flares and solar waves and that kind of thing coming from the sun, which we have no control over.
Secondly, you can't have an effective cap-and-trade or an effective carbon-emissions treaty if the two biggest-growing industrial powers, China and India, do not sign on. And they've indicated they have no intention of squashing their economic growth by going down this road.
And the other point too is that the nations in Western Europe that already have cap and trade to try to control carbon output, there has been no limitations on carbon output. It's actually essentially wrecked their economies, or at least stunted their economic growth, while not controlling the carbon emissions.
And finally, domestically here in the United States, I'm not so sure that they can get those 60 votes in the Senate. You have a lot of Democrats, both in the House and the Senate, coming from coal- producing states, like Jay Rockefeller in West Virginia saying he's totally opposed to this. And even now President Obama is starting to back off.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the science, Clarence, the science?
MR. PAGE: I'm glad you brought that up, John, because the real reason why the debate has shifted, if you will, from global warming to climate change is because of a growing consensus that, as you just said, Monica, there's little question that there is warming going on. It's a question of how much do humans have to do with it. That's a big shift. And that's what treaty debate is about. Do you have to lose jobs, or are we talking about converting jobs? Are we talking about automobiles that emit less? Are we talking about new kinds of solar, wind energy, et cetera?
And, indeed, you're right; China and India have been slow to get on board here, for a lot of obvious reasons, but they are getting on board, because they see -- I mean, go to Beijing these days. You can hardly breathe. It's just so blatantly obvious that we need to do something about.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they're on board, but they don't want --
MR. BUCHANAN: That's pollution.
MR. PAGE: Pollution is part of the climate-change debate.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: They don't want to sign the treaty, though. They're on board verbally.
MR. PAGE: At this point they don't, but --
MS. CLIFT: Well, there's no treaty that exists -- no treaty exists yet. The negotiations are underway.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, a treaty could come out of Copenhagen.
MR. PAGE: That's right.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And they don't want to sign that.
MR. BUCHANAN: The Chinese --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think either one of them do, nor do we.
MR. BUCHANAN: The Chinese are realists.
They're not into this theology and this nonsense that the West is into, John. They're into --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: But they're going higher than the United States in their reduction --
MR. BUCHANAN: They want to clean up -- Clarence is right.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- 20 percent versus our 15 percent.
MR. BUCHANAN: They've got pollution that's choking people with the serious pollution. But this carbon-dioxide stuff -- John, they're not going to get aboard on that. They're not going to stunt their growth to go along with what these already mature powers have already done.
MS. CROWLEY: They don't have the luxury --
MR. PAGE: Where carbon dioxide comes from, though, is this heavy pollution. And they realize that -- their growth has been so tremendous over in China, they realize they've got to do something long range in order to stop --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why didn't --
MS. CLIFT: Right. If that huge population achieves all of the conveniences we have in this country, the planet will absolutely drown. And I think there is that recognition. But they have an argument that we proceeded on a low-cost-energy -- oil -- economy for years, and we've gotten way ahead. And they want time to catch up.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did Michael Crichton, the novelist, who wrote "State of Fear," why did he raise such havoc with this issue when he said --
MR. PAGE: Because Michael Crichton, God bless his soul, was a paranoid who made millions off writing paranoid sci-fi novels. Look, all of this novel -- it's always about mankind's good technology going wrong, whether it's dinosaurs or pollution or the Andromeda strain, et cetera, you know.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he attacked the global-warming science. MR. PAGE: Yes, and he was wrong. (Laughs.)
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he gave a speech at the National Press Club. Do you remember that?
MS. CLIFT: An overwhelming --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did he do that?
MS. CLIFT: An overwhelming preponderance of scientific effort -- consensus -- is on the fact that the planet is warming --
MS. CROWLEY: That is changing.
MS. CLIFT: -- and that man --
MS. CROWLEY: That's changing.
MS. CLIFT: -- man's activity --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, quickly.
MS. CLIFT: There's only a handful of people who see --
MR. BUCHANAN: But, you know, John --
MS. CLIFT: -- political opportunity in being naysayers.
MR. BUCHANAN: It was warming, John. It has not been warming since '98.
MS. CROWLEY: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: Secondly, there's no known proof that it's because of man, and there's no known proof it's a great danger.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there any political --
MS. CLIFT: There's no known proof (it's gone ?) either.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's not a danger.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: How much proof do you need, Pat?
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me get this question in.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's not a danger even if it's happening. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please relinquish, Pat.
MS. CLIFT: It's a danger already in many places.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Stop baiting the lady.
Now, is there any political muscle behind this? In other words, is the voter, the average voter, going to vote for or against a politician by reason of that politician's standing on the subject of global warming?
MR. BUCHANAN: The left and the environmentalists will vote on it because it's a religious thing for them.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a --
MR. BUCHANAN: There's economic --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a bullet issue?
MR. BUCHANAN: There's also economic power behind --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a bullet issue?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, it is. It is a --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean a determinative issue.
MR. BUCHANAN: For a small -- just like gun control; for a small group, it is.
MS. CROWLEY: I would say --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? Like gun control? Of that magnitude?
MR. BUCHANAN: The environmentalists are -- John, they're a very powerful lobby.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let her in. Let her in.
MS. CROWLEY: I would say that Pat is right on that, but I think the broader base of voters actually -- I think it does mobilize conservatives and independents as well, because a cap-and-trade bill will be tantamount to the largest tax increase in the history of the world. It's an enormous job-killer. And when you're looking at 10.2 percent unemployment in this country --
MS. CLIFT: Evangelical --
MS. CROWLEY: -- I think it will lead a lot of people out there to vote against it. MS. CLIFT: Evangelical Republicans care about the stewardship of the planet, and they are supportive on this issue as well.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think there's less on this issue than --
MR. BUCHANAN: You might get evangelicals supporting this stuff?
MS. CLIFT: I certainly do.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's less on this issue than there is. Do you understand?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's less here than there is.
Exit question: Which is better for the United States, to sign on to Copenhagen if it develops into a treaty, or let Copenhagen fail?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think -- I'm with Rush on this one.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rush who?
MR. BUCHANAN: Rush Limbaugh. We hope it fails. (Laughs.)
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Beck?
MR. BUCHANAN: What about Beck? (Laughter.)
MS. CROWLEY: He's totally opposed.
MR. PAGE: He's baiting you, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think -- (laughs) --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MS. CLIFT: The U.S. and China should be leaders in Copenhagen, and the U.S. should definitely sign on to whatever framework emerges. MS. CROWLEY: I think Obama ideologically would like to sign on. He's even backing away from it. It's going to fail. And in this economic climate, it should fail.
MR. PAGE: I think it's going to -- it's best for it to pass, because we do need to show leadership. And this debate has been going on for 40 years, since Earth Day at least. And there is a consensus moving in favor of it. It's not just extremists anymore.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The consensus is moving the other way.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think we should sign it, because if there is a treaty and if there is a rush toward green technology, it will mean technology, and the technology will be developed by China and India --
MR. PAGE: We're developing it too.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the lowest bidders. And our jobless situation will be worsened.
Issue Two: Dr. No.
"DR. NO": (From videotape of James Bond movie.) Clumsy effort, Mr. Bond. You disappoint me.
SEN. TOM COBURN (R-OK): (From videotape.) Look at what we've done in the past. I don't think you can trust us with health care. The Highway Trust Fund is broke. Fannie Mae is broke. Freddie Mac's broke. Medicare is broke. Medicaid's broke. The country's broke.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tom Coburn, Republican senator from Oklahoma and medical doctor, M.D. Why is Tom Coburn also called "Dr. No"? Answer: He says no, a lot; even keeps a sign above his office desk with a single word printed on it: "No."
Coburn was elected to the Senate five years ago. He is a master of exactitude, delay, and some say principled opposition.
SEN. COBURN: (From videotape.) We don't have plenty of money in the checkbook to do it. What we have is an unlimited credit card that we keep putting the credit card into the machine and say, "We'll take now, and our kids will pay later."
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the last five years, Senator Coburn has filed 508 amendments to legislation, the second-most of any senator. Most of these amendments were intended to block legislation that Coburn believes is bad for the country. As a family physician, Coburn knows first-hand the cost of President Obama's health-insurance bill. His overall judgment is that the Obama bill would cause the country, quote-unquote, "fiscal ruin." Coburn is threatening to stage a filibuster in the Senate, during which either he or the clerk of the Senate would read aloud the entire 2,000-page bill. Then, as needed, Senator Coburn would ad lib endlessly after that.
Question: Suppose that Dr. Coburn reads aloud, in the House chamber, all 2,000 pages of the health-care bill. Should C-SPAN broadcast, gavel to gavel, Dr. Coburn's filibuster? Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: I think even C-SPAN might worry about losing its audience. (Laughter.) Look, Senator Coburn does get some respect for his willingness to always stand up on principle and to oppose anything that he thinks is going to raise the deficit. He's now picked the wrong bill. He's put a hold on a bill that would give veterans from Iran and Afghanistan and their caregivers help that they desperately need. He is the only senator who opposes it, and he's getting a lot of heat from other Republicans.
And you know what Democrats call him? They call him Mr. Leader, because the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, cannot control him. He is a one-man band. And his judgments, even though you praised them in the context of health-care reform, his judgments are so idiosyncratic that they really do not have a following.
MS. CROWLEY: I completely disagree with this. I think he is on the pulse of the American people right now. The American people are expressing grave concerns over a ballooning deficit and an exploding debt, and he is up there. And thank God he is up on Capitol Hill holding up a hand saying no to this out-of-control spending. That's where the majority of the American people are right now. And if he stands on the Senate floor and goes through with this, reading the 2,000-page bill, well, then we'll at least know that one senator has actually read it, because he will have read it through.
By the way, there is no actual Senate bill as we speak. It's a phantom bill. It's a vapor bill. There is no legislative language on it. He's even waiting on that.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the way, the measure stands about that high.
MS. CROWLEY: In the House.
MR. BUCHANAN: Let me say, Coburn --
MS. CROWLEY: In the House bill.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The House bill.
MR. BUCHANAN: Coburn is a very principled politician. He's the economic conscience of the Republican Party and the United States Senate. He has replaced Senator No, the late great Jesse Helms, who, on one side, and Teddy Kennedy on the other, were the most effective senators for their respective parties in the last quarter-century. And I think, John, our late friend, Robert Novak, he thought that Coburn was really a real -- I mean, a genuine national asset and one of the guys who really deserves the respect he gets.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: One of the problems with the health legislation is it becomes an entitlement and it practically stays alive throughout its full career. You can't pull it back. You can't get it out of the system.
MR. PAGE: That's what an entitlement is, John. People are entitled to it.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So this is an historic event.
MR. PAGE: Oh, yes, absolutely. I think Tom Coburn is not as effective as Jesse Helms yet. That's the problem. I think he does express concerns of the Republican mainstream, but his actions fit more with the fringe.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he respected?
MR. PAGE: I think that's compromised his effectiveness.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he respected by his peers?
MR. PAGE: It's one thing to be respected.
It's another thing to be effective as far as getting legislation through --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does he know how to play the -- does he know how to do what Ted Kennedy would call the inside game, which is the real test?
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. PAGE: No. That's the problem. He can say no. But how many no votes does he represent?
MS. CLIFT: He's seen as an oddball, basically --
MS. CROWLEY: Yeah, but --
MS. CLIFT: -- an appealing oddball, because Senator Barack Obama had a friendship going with him.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CROWLEY: Well, look --
MS. CLIFT: He is not a legislative --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question.
MS. CROWLEY: A lot of members of the Republican Party are resistant to him because he won't go down the road of earmarks, and a lot of Republicans go down that road. And they oppose him on that. And he is absolutely right.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Could Coburn's filibuster kill health care in the Senate? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, the question is -- look, the question is the Democrats. If they've got their 60 senators on board, they're going to get health care. But they've got to do a number of things -- get rid of the public option, keep the abortion language in there, keep the immigration thing out of there. They can do it, but they're not there yet. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: If they've got 60 votes, Coburn is irrelevant.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
MS. CROWLEY: But I think Coburn's position is gaining more and more traction. And if he really takes to the Senate floor and reads through this bill and makes his opposition known, I think he's going to raise the hackles here of the American people, which are already raised.
MR. PAGE: Well, I agree with Pat from the other side. I think we need to have a public option for a robust bill. And the biggest impediment there is not Republicans. It's the Blue Dog Democrats.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is yes, if it could galvanize public support. That's where the pressure comes to, which goes to your point.
Issue Three: Prisoner of Habit.
(Videotape of inmates in U.S. prisons, with musical accompaniment from Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock."
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): (From videotape.) When one looks at the incarceration rates in the United States, there's reason for concern. We're incarcerating people over and over again who are committing criminal offenses.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: America is home to the largest number of the freest people in the world. But America is also home to the largest number of imprisoned people in the world. Take a look at the stats.
Item: U.S. prisoners. Total: 2.3 million people behind bars today. The 2.3 million is 40 percent higher than Russia, which comes in second in percentage of prisoners per citizen.
Item: U.S. prisoners vis-a-vis world population. The U.S. has 5 percent of the world population and we have 25 percent of all world prisoners.
Item: U.S. prison and prisoner costs: $60 billion a year. That's more than the GDP of over 140 countries.
Item: Backsliding, sometimes called recidivism. Seventy percent of American prisoners will commit another crime within three years of release from prison.
Senator Webb, please sum it up.
SEN. JIM WEBB (D-VA): (From videotape.) We've got two phenomena here. We're locking up more people on a percentage basis than anyone else in the world, and yet we don't feel any safer. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why does the U.S. have such a huge prison population? Clarence.
MR. PAGE: Well, the biggest reason, really, is drug and drug- related crimes. We had a big explosion from the middle 1980s. Remember the Len Bias case, the basketball promising star who died of an overdose? There was a real frenzy after that, as well as the rest of --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to go around the horn and get out fast. But should judges really relax their rulings in the instance, say, of marijuana possession?
MR. PAGE: You're starting to see it happen already, that states like California and others have started to cease prosecution below --
MR. BUCHANAN: Turning them loose.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there any discernible increase in marijuana usage when there is a soft decision made by the judge? Does it lead to increased use?
MR. PAGE: Increased use. Well, that's an interesting debate. The general consensus is no by itself.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I read no. It does not affect usage afterwards.
MR. BUCHANAN: The reason the United States' crime rate has stopped going up and gone down a bit is because we incarcerate so many criminals. And that's one reason why Britain and some of these countries in Europe have crime rates higher than the United States.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also, do we have too many laws?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: We do have too many laws?
MR. BUCHANAN: We certainly do.
MS. CLIFT: We have --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why do we enact all these laws?
MR. BUCHANAN: Because we've got a huge society and because we've got politicians who don't do anything else for a living.
MS. CLIFT: And we have too many politicians who see political opportunity in accusing each other of being weak on crime --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.) MS. CLIFT: -- which is why it's so good that Senator Jim Webb, an original tough guy, has --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: -- taken on the issue of prison reform.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: Rubio's Cube.
Can he put the parts together?
MARCO RUBIO (U.S. Senate candidate from Florida): (From videotape.) What I want to be a part of is one of what I hope will be an increasing number of voices that will offer an alternative to the direction that we're headed right now.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Republican Marco Rubio wants to be U.S. senator from Florida. So does Charlie Crist, the sitting Republican governor of Florida. Both Crist and Rubio are fighting for the Republican nomination. At age 30, elected to the Florida State House of Representatives. Six years into his eight-year stay, he became speaker of the House in Florida.
For many Republicans, in Florida and elsewhere, Rubio is seen as a perfect conservative and a rising star. Rubio opposes Obama health care, Obama stimulus, and what Rubio describes as Obama big government.
MR. RUBIO: (From videotape.) There's going to be some differences, for example, on the stimulus package, and there's going to be some differences on the role of government in society.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Recently, Rubio's conservatism has come into question. During his time as speaker of the Florida House, he reportedly spent $60 million on updating the Florida Marlins stadium, $800,000 on artificial turf for the Miami-Dade University field, and hundreds of thousands more on renovations to the structure of the Florida statehouse.
To that, Mr. Rubio says, quote, "In life, as in policy, things don't always fit into neat little boxes. But overwhelmingly, I have a record that testifies to a commitment to limited government," unquote.
Question: In a Republican primary faceoff -- Republican -- Crist versus Rubio in Florida, who wins? Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, Rubio has the momentum and he's got the time to do it and he's got the enthusiasm and energy on his side, and Charlie Crist is on the wrong side on social and cultural issues. And also he got too close to Obama early on. But Charlie Crist is beginning to sound like Barry Goldwater now because he knows he's in trouble.
MS. CLIFT: I think that's a good thing. (Laughter.)
MR. BUCHANAN: But I think -- my guess is that Rubio will probably take him, because I think he's got the momentum going with him, and as I say, he's got the time. And that's a strong conservative state down there. So I would guess, if I had to, Rubio will win it.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't forget, he's got a year to go.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, that's a lot of time, as I say.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Crist has a loyal following.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Crist is a very, very popular governor. There's no doubt about it. It's a tough run. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also this business about not being a true conservative -- Rubio, that is -- that could hurt him.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's (not good ?) on immigration.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Republicans are conservative, Pat. They're your people.
MS. CLIFT: Did you just invoke --
MR. BUCHANAN: They're not all --
MS. CLIFT: -- Barry Goldwater's name in a negative context? Did I hear right?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, I said that's what -- Charlie has got religion. I'm saying he's got religion. (Laughs.)
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the biggest problem --
MS. CLIFT: I see. Okay.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's Rubio's biggest problem? Don't all yell at once.
MR. BUCHANAN: Immigration. Immigration.
MR. PAGE: Immigration may be an issue with Republicans.
MS. CROWLEY: And also he doesn't have the establishment.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, no, that's not it. I'm sorry. That's not it.
MS. CROWLEY: He doesn't have the GOP establishment backing, which Charlie Crist has. But Charlie Crist has made a series of really serious mistakes. Number one, he tried to deny that he supported the economic stimulus when he did, and now he sees it's very unpopular and hasn't worked, and he's trying to deny he supported it.
And then a couple of weeks ago, he claimed he didn't know Obama was in his own state. Come on. A lot of voters now are saying, "Look, we want" -- and this is not just Republicans, but independents too -- "we want a real choice. We don't want Democrat Lite in our Republican candidate."
MR. BUCHANAN: Two words, John.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is all good lore, but it's not answering my question.
MR. BUCHANAN: Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jeb Bush?
MR. BUCHANAN: With Rubio.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Jeb Bush is presidential material?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.
MS. CLIFT: Well, Jeb Bush has anointed --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think Jeb Bush is certainly qualified to be president of the United States. I'm not saying I'd vote for him. I think he's presidential material, yes.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's also got the personality for it. He's got the manner.
MS. CLIFT: Well, and the Rubio --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got the manner. He meets well. He looks well. And he governs well. He governed well in Florida.
MR. BUCHANAN: You need a little more of a --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to know, what is the big controlling reason why Rubio will not get it?
MS. CLIFT: Because of fratricide within the Republican Party? I don't know. I think that Charlie Crist is in trouble. I think Bush --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I take it back.
MS. CLIFT: -- has anointed Rubio.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: My question is, why -- what is Crist's big liability?
MS. CLIFT: Crist's big liability is --
MR. BUCHANAN: Social issues.
MS. CLIFT: -- because the energy is all among the right-wing fringe --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: No. No.
MS. CLIFT: -- and they're opposing him. You've got the Club for Growth in there supporting Rubio. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are all missing the main point. The main point we made a couple of weeks ago, and that is we're living in an anti-incumbent time. They want the incumbents out. Crist is a long- time incumbent. That's his biggest liability.
MR. PAGE: Although Rubio is not --
MS. CLIFT: Rubio's in office too.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, no.
MR. PAGE: Rubio is not a spring chicken --
MR. BUCHANAN: He's not running for re-election, John.
MR. PAGE: Yeah, he's not running for re-election. Real estate and the economy are also big issues in Florida.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He doesn't have that incumbency look that Crist has about him.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, no, Crist is a strong candidate. He was considered a walk-in. What you've got is a conservative who looks like he can win the whole thing. And when conservatives see that, they move.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will the loyalty test bring Crist back into office as senator?
MR. BUCHANAN: I'm guessing Rubio, as I said.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you guess it? Quickly.
MS. CLIFT: I guess Rubio too. (Laughs.)
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you guess?
MS. CROWLEY: I guess Rubio as well, yes.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you guess it?
MR. PAGE: I think Crist will come from behind.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think Crist will too.
MR. BUCHANAN: Copenhagen is going to produce a mouse.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Copenhagen. Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Copenhagen is going to give momentum to the -- (laughter) -- to the green movement in the world.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, we're getting bored by Copenhagen, by the way. (Laughter.)
MS. CROWLEY: Okay.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead.
MS. CROWLEY: One year from today, Thanksgiving 2010, we will be celebrating a Republican takeover of the House.
MR. PAGE: The recent off-year elections will spur a big movement to get young voters out on the part of Democrats next year.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: CNN anchor Lou Dobbs will challenge the U.S. senator from New Jersey, Robert Menendez, in the 2012 elections.
Gobble-gobble. Have a magnificent Thanksgiving. Bye-bye.