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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: U.S. ground troops in Kosovo.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: (From videotape.) The time to stop this conflict in Kosovo is now, before it spreads, and when it can be contained at an acceptable cost.

REP. DOUG BEREUTER (R-NE): (From videotape.) I'm concerned about the constitutional process and whether it's of vital national interest to devote such a large portion of our military capabilities to keeping peace at two places in the Balkans.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Commander in Chief Clinton took a first step this week towards putting U.S. ground troops in Kosovo over the stern objection of Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Now Clinton envisions 30,000 NATO troops, 15 percent of them American.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: (From audiotape of his weekly radio address.) Europeans would provide the great bulk of any NATO force, roughly 85 percent. Our share would amount to a little less than 4,000 personnel.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But arguments against the U.S. commitment are strong:

One, Kosovo is not a U.S. vital national interest.

Two, Kosovo is first and foremost a European problem.

Three, Kosovo will overextend our military. We already have 7,000 troops in Bosnia, and they were due to leave years ago.

Four, we cannot afford Kosovo. In 1999 Bosnia will cost U.S. taxpayers $2 billion for this year alone, money that would be better spent on critically needed repair and force modernization, and/or an umbrella nuclear defense system. If we double the money into the Balkans, we deprive another sector much-needed funds.

Five, no mission strategy, say senior Pentagon officials.

Six, finally, no exit strategy. Secretary of State Albright says the president will not set a deadline for troop withdrawal if troops are sent in.

Congress is skeptical.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): -- very dissatisfied that there is no overall strategy, there is no exit strategy, and the American people deserve better than the one we've been getting in the conduct of foreign policy concerning Kosovo.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is it a good idea to send troops -- send U.S. troops into Kosovo? I ask you, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the United States has no business there. The United States has no real vital interests there. But more than that, we have no legal or moral right to go about threatening or bombing the Serbian civilians or the Serbian military for trying to keep a province that belongs to them.

This is a civil war. The Kosovos (sic) want to break away from Milosevic, understandably. The Serbs want to keep their land, which they have got every right to do. The United States has no business attacking anyone there. And in my judgment, if people die, whether it's Americans or Serbs, the responsibility will not only be Clinton's, but of Congress of the United States' that has abdicated its role in the war-making policy.


MS. CLIFT: Pat is for the freedom of people to kill each other off anywhere in the world.

Of course, we have an interest in Europe, and especially in the Balkans, which was where two world wars were started in this century. We have an interest in stability.

And there is a model for this kind of involvement; it's called Bosnia. We have had 7,000 troops there now for several years, and the bloodshed has stopped. And it's perfectly appropriate to send in 4,000 troops out of 30,000 troops, a very small participation, to keep the peace in an area of the world that we really should care about in a global society, Pat.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can it be said, do you think, Clarence, that the situation in Bosnia is quite different from that in Kosovo? When we went into Bosnia, there was a tiring of bloodletting -- people were growing tired of it -- where in this situation, there is spoiling for blood. It's a much hotter situation.

MR. PAGE: It is. But at the same time, if we can get Milosevic to agree to this peace deal -- and he does need some kind of prodding and cover, which the current threat of military action provides -- then we can stabilize the brutal way that the Serbs have been attacking the Kosovo Liberation Army.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Do you have any problem from international law or for other reasons, for sending U.S. troops into Kosovo as peacemakers?

MR. BARONE: Well, I think it might be a good idea, John. But I don't think we have set it up as well as we have set up Bosnia; and even that is sort of dicey. We have not held Milosevic personally responsible the way Dick Holbrooke did in the Bosnia discussion. Instead, we have been dealing with these other interlocutors that don't have any authority.

We have cut Russia in on the deal, although we have got Boris Yeltsin saying, or perhaps he was, you know, asking for another bottle of vodka, but he is saying that he doesn't want us bombing over there. That is going to send a lot of mixed signals that is going to make any U.S. ground presence over there harder to sustain.

Similarly, the multilateral involvement with the NATO allies, the fact that we are a small percentage of the troops over there and that they are going to be commanded probably by foreign commanders, which is going to raise a lot of problems with American politicians; I think this makes the chances of success worse.

And the facts you were pointing out to earlier; these people have just got started fighting. In Bosnia, Holbrooke negotiated something; the hardest people to negotiate with were the Bosnians that we were trying to help --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, there are --

MR. BARONE: -- where these people are not nearly at that stage.


MR. BUCHANAN: John, these American troops and these NATO troops are not peacekeepers. There is no peace there. There's a war going on and a current stalemate. These are peacemakers. They are going in there in the Kosovo situation where part of the Kosovars want to maintain autonomy and the others are willing to fight and die for independence. You're going to delay this thing a little while and put Americans right in the thick of it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see this as a -

MS. CLIFT: No, you have --

(Cross talk.) (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- de facto step in the changing of direction of our policy towards independence for Kosovo, do you not?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look. There is -- once the -- Milosevic is right on that. Once the Americans go in, it's going down the road toward independence and the Serbs aren't going to let it go. Because Kosovo will take the Americans in there as "they should have given -- (inaudible due to cross talk).

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Our technical position -- our technical position is no full independence in the sense of sovereignty for Kosovo. Kosovo must remain under the jurisdiction of Serbia. That's our position.

MR. BUCHANAN: That is nonsense. The Kosovar Albanians want to join with Albania. They're not going to give up that hope and dream.

MS. CLIFT: That's right.

MR. BUCHANAN: Maybe for three years, they build up their (inaudible word) over there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The post --

MS. CLIFT: Well, I'm not going to raise the flag for the Kosovar Albanians. That's to be put off in the future. Maybe it will lead to independence, but right now, you need to stop people from killing each other and you need to have it cool down and you need a certain amount of autonomy for the ethnic Albanians. It is a model that has worked so far in Bosnia -- it's fragile and it's --

MR. BARONE: But if you don't -- if you don't do it in the right way --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, look,

MR. BARONE: -- you could have some terrible tragedies or some broken promises.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but if you don't do it at all, there's no prospectof success.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Could Milosevic be induced to go in the direction of a greater Albania for the resolution of the Kosovo problem if we provided for a greater Serbia?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By, say, giving him that piece of Croatia in the north --

MR. PAGE: Up north?

MR. BARONE: Of Bosnia? Good luck.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you're reading Friedman --

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And maybe a piece of Bosnia?

MR. BUCHANAN: You're reading Friedman in the New York Times and that's exactly right. Ultimately, this is going to sort it out to where Serbs rule Serbs; Albanians, Albanians; Croats, Croats; Muslims, Muslims; Slovenians, Slovenians.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But then you back up into resettlement and when you back up into resettlement you back up into the situation that prevailed in World War II where we had to resettle Germans in Poland and that can be a very painful operation.

MR. BUCHANAN: It was an awful thing.

MS. CLIFT: You cannot have --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where is there less pain -- in creating new borders with a greater Albania and a greater Serbia?

MS. CLIFT: Because you can't have --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just a moment. I want to hear from Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think you ought to -- if you're going to build something you ought to get together with Milosevic and build it all along ethnic lines. That's reality.

MS. CLIFT: That is not reality. You can't have Serbs ruling Serbs and everybody ruling themselves. There's too much intermarriage --

MR. PAGE: Right.

MS. CLIFT: -- there's too much mobility. We've got to accept diversity, Pat, in the world --

(Cross talk, laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what it all means, of course, is --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's not whether we accept, it's whether they do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, what it all means is, it's quite obvious, that what we should do is stay out and let them settle their own problems.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly, and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit, multiple choice. For how many years will U.S. troops be in Kosovo? A, less than a year; B, one to four years; C, five to nine years; D, 10 years; E, 25 years. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: I will say --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please give me a letter, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I will say B and until Americans start getting killed.


MR. BUCHANAN: B is one to four.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One to four. Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: (Laughing.) I will say C, because the plan calls for three years before they reopen the independence question and peacekeepers are going to have to stay at least that long.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: C is five to nine, is that what you're saying?

MS. CLIFT: So, at least three, yeah. So five to nine.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, well stick with the alphabet as far as possible.

MR. PAGE: C. She can't bear to agree with Pat, which is B -- (laughter) -- is what it is. And Eleanor's right. The plan does call for three years and that makes sense that it's going to be somewhere in that time frame, but John, you might as well plan on there being an extension after that, just as there was in Bosnia, and just as there was during the Cold War and there was NATO by then.

MR. BARONE: I'm going to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many years have we been in Bosnia?

MR. BARONE: We've been in Bosnia three years, since the fall of 1995.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we're over by two.

MR. BARONE: Yeah, well, what the president promised and Congress passed these resolutions that we'd have to be out by the 30th of June --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three. So we're into the -- with three already in Bosnia.

MR. BARONE: Oh, nobody took Clinton seriously at that time.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So what are you saying?

MR. BARONE: What I would say, John, right here, is I would give you A, because I fear that something bad may happen over there a la Somalia, in which case, we're gone.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think -- what'd you say, three?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A. I think it's closer to you, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Go with the B, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll go with a B. (Laughter.) When we come back, will Rodham run, or will Starr trip her up?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Will Rodham run or will Starr trip her up?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: (From videotape.) I think she would be terrific in the Senate, but that's a decision that she'll have to make.

SEN. PATRICK MOYNIHAN (D-NY): (From videotape.) She'd be welcome -- and she'd win.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hillary Clinton is giving, quote, unquote, "careful thought" to a run for U.S. Senate 2000 in the state of New York. Polls show Hillary defeating New York Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani by 10 points.

Winning the nomination for Senate may be a breeze for Hillary, if she decides to run, but campaigning may not be. The first lady will likely face questions, possibly during public debates, about a number of politically sensitive issues, including Whitewater. Scheduled for trial by Kenneth Starr in three weeks is Hillary and Bill's ex-partner, Susan McDougal.

Cattle futures. Hillary may have to explain how she turned $1,000 into $100,000 on the Commodities Market in a little over a year as a novice investor. She gained a $5,300 profit on her first day of trading.

Castle Grande. Perhaps the most worrisome for Hillary, Kenneth Starr might indict the first lady for statements made under oath denying having done any legal work for Castle Grande, later flatly contradicted by billing records from that period that mysteriously resurfaced in the White House living quarters. Reportedly, Starr drafted but did not pursue an indictment of Mrs. Clinton following her January '96 grand jury appearance. Webb Hubbell, a principal in Castle Grande and Mrs. Clinton's Rose Law Firm partner, is scheduled for trial in June. Starr is looking to Hubbell for information on Hillary.

Now, of course there's no problem for Hillary if there's no Starr -- and that could happen. Clinton's Justice Department is now probing whether federal ethics guidelines were broken by Starr's office in its pursuit of an immunity deal with Monica Lewinsky. Other allegations include leaks of grand jury testimony to the press, and possible conflicts of interest not disclosed at the outset to Justice. Starr, however, does not trust what he deems is a biased Justice Department, and does not feel it appropriate that Attorney General Janet Reno have direct control of the inquiry due to an obvious conflict of interest. So Starr asked Reno to hire an outsider, according to Friday's New York Times. Reno is now considering a special investigative prosecutor. One possible candidate for the job is Jimmy Carter's attorney general, Griffin Bell. Starr's suspicion of Reno reflects that of other lawmakers, who feel as he does, only more so; notably, Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch, who smells something rotten at Justice.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): (From videotape.) Actually a probability that this is a prelude, a setup to try and fire the independent counsel, and they think they can get away with it. And I'll tell you, if that happens, I think all heck is going to break loose. I'm disgusted with the Justice Department. This is the most partisan Justice Department I've seen in my whole 22 years here.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Will Reno probe Starr with outside counsel? Clarence Page.

MR. PAGE: Gee, John, I wondered where you were leading there. You started off talking about will Hillary run, and ended up will Reno appoint -- (inaudible).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, she's got problems in running, and she wants 90 days, she wants till mid-May to wait, and I wonder whether --

MR. PAGE: Your real question is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- she wants to find out what's going to happen to Starr or what's going to happen to her because of Starr.

MR. PAGE: Right. That's your real question. And yes, of course she wants to know what's going to happen to Starr. But I think she's probably going to decide before then if it's going to be really practical for her to run. I think she's already starting to sound pretty coquettish about this. And other Democratic candidates --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why does she need 90 days? Everybody up in New York is waiting for -- you know, the ones that want to run. Nita Lowey.

MR. PAGE: Sure, because she wants to be president eventually, right, John?


MS. CLIFT: Nita Lowey.

MR. PAGE: Right, Congresswoman Nita Lowey.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right, and there are three or four others who are thinking about it.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. If --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She doesn't need 90 days. She only needs 90 days because of Starr.

MR. BARONE: I suppose she wants -- listen, there are problems with her candidacy, John. I mean, she's a person whose political judgment is not as good as Bill Clinton's. I mean, she thought -- don't settle the Paula Jones case; she thought -- you know, the August 17th speech, that was a great idea; the national health insurance plan didn't work out quite as she expected.


MR. BARONE: So she's trying to find out what the political down sides are. Is there a hope over there in the White --

MR. PAGE: You don't need 90 days to find that out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've got to tell you, I --

(Cross talk.)

MR. BUCHANAN: The down side is Rudy Giuliani would shred her.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rudy Giuliani will not run against her, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Rudy is waiting for her to run. He's never gotten less than 48 in the city. Every conservative and Republican in the country would support him. She's got trouble with the Jewish community.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't hear me, Pat. Rudy will not run because he knows he would lose.

MR. BUCHANAN: He would shred this woman!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, I've got to tell you, if she decides to run, there is no way, no way she would lose!

MR. BUCHANAN: He would do to her what Pastor (sp) did to you.

MR. BARONE: John, that's what they said about Ted Kennedy --

MS. CLIFT: Gentlemen! Gentlemen!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm telling you she's an automatic winner!

MS. CLIFT: Gentlemen, can I separate you?!

MR. PAGE: Let's let Little Miss Marker say something.

MS. CLIFT: Listen, I'm with John. I think Rudy Giuliani backs off, the Democrats clear the field for Hillary Rodham Clinton --

MR. BUCHANAN: She would be destroyed!

MS. CLIFT: -- the Republicans put up a token candidate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, I want to talk --

MS. CLIFT: She would boost turnout in New York and across the country. She's a transformational figure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She does magic, that woman. She does magic. And she does other things, too.

MR. BARONE: She found the Rose Law Firm billing records in the kitty litter box.

MS. CLIFT: A Republican who is high up in the hierarchy of the RNC told me that he's telling all his Republican buddies to put Mrs. Clinton on boards, give her stock options, make her rich, and don't put her on any ticket because she would energize Democrats like crazy.

MR. BUCHANAN: She'd energize our crowd, too. (Laughter.)

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to get back to this question, this incredible question of whether or not Janet Reno is going to appoint an independent counsel to investigate the independent counsel.

MR. BARONE: Well, I think, consonant with her other refusals to appoint independent counsels on the vice president and other people, she -- you know, she --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She won't do it.

MR. BARONE: -- she won't do it, because she's going to give Hillary a pass on this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know --

MR. BARONE: I mean, the Rose Law Firm billing records showed up in the White House in the family side -- (inaudible) -- a year and half later.

MS. CLIFT: Hillary a pass? Where is Hillary -- (inaudible due to cross talk)?

MR. PAGE: She did appoint a few independent counsels, Michael.

MR. BARONE: Yes. More recently --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of what Senator Hatch said, that this is a prelude to getting rid of Starr? See, if you get Starr out of the picture, I think Hillary thinks, she has no worry.

MS. CLIFT: Listen, Janet Reno --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right now she could be indicted.

MR. BARONE: Well, and of course it's consonant with her political -- with Hillary Rodham Clinton's political judgment to take the hard line on all these scandal things. So maybe that's going through her head. I don't think it would be a great idea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit, exit: Will Hillary run, yes or no, Pat?


MS. CLIFT: You know, I'm 50-50, and I think she is, too. So I can make a case either way.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, yeah. You know, you're always on the same wavelength with her. Get off her wavelength --


MS. CLIFT: All right, yes! It's an opportunity; she can go for it. (Laughter.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Please, please!


MR. PAGE: Oh, I hope she does. I hope, I hope, I hope -- (chuckles) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a yes?

MR. PAGE: -- because I think it would be a great run, and she would win --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a yes?

MR. PAGE: -- and so that's a yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, she's got the fire in the belly, if I can use that word to describe such a lovely lady.

MR. PAGE: Tummy, tummy.


MR. BARONE: Well, I would say no, John. I think the fact is that she doesn't really want to be asked questions like "Are you going to go on the Agriculture Committee because they have jurisdiction over commodities trade?"

MS. CLIFT: Michael, she can handle that, no problem.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a no?

MR. PAGE: She's been through that, Michael.

(Cross talk, laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is, she's going to go for it.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: The last dog lives on.

BILL CLINTON: (From 1992 videotape.) New Hampshire tonight has made Bill Clinton the Comeback Kid. (Cheers, applause.)

I'll never forget who gave me a second chance, and I'll be there for you till the last dog dies. (Cheers, applause.) And I want you to remember --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fresh from his victory over impeachment, President Clinton Thursday returned to the site of his first victory on his campaign to the White House seven years ago to the very day. It was the same day that he dubbed himself "the Comeback Kid," placing second in New Hampshire's primary, after beating down scandals from draft dodging to Gennifer Flowers, and proving his political resilience and almost superhuman ability to stand tall in the face of shamefully embarrassing revelations about his private life.

This week Clinton once again stood tall against private embarrassments, winning an acquittal on impeachment charges on which over 80 percent of the country judged him guilty.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: (From videotape.) But if you remember in '92, if you had listened to the political experts -- (chuckles) -- the dog would have died. (Laughter.)

We've seen a lot of dogs killed, but at least the last one is still living. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But his New Hampshire welcome was not universal. Some critics gathered to protest his appearance, and Manchester's Union Leader newspaper ran a front page with the banner "Mr. President, you're a disgrace."

Question: The Clinton disgrace factor assumed a larger dimension on Friday with the Wall Street Journal publication of a report that Bill Clinton allegedly raped a nursing home operator in Arkansas in 1978, described in a lengthy article by Dorothy Rabinowitz, who interviewed the alleged victim, Juanita Broaddrick. The subject was discussed on C-SPAN Friday morning and also on Fox News Cable. The story is not only disturbing, but it is horrid.

Discussion also focuses on why NBC has declined to air an interview with Mrs. Broaddrick conducted by Lisa Myers. Robert Lichta (sp), media analyst, has said on television that he regards -- who is regarded as credible -- he sees no reason why NBC should not air the report now.

Question: What if Bill Clinton, the "last dog," is a violent criminal? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: And where is this going to be resolved, John, in Judge Judy's Court or Judge John's (sp) Court on public television? (Laughter.)

These allegations go back more than 20 years. This woman made no charges at the time. It is my understanding that she couldn't even recall initially the year. And investigative reporters for major publications have looked at it since 1991. Ken Starr passed on it.

You know, where is this going to go, except among all the Clinton-haters and the right-wing conspiratorialists? It's great fodder, but you know, you have proved the guy is a cad; you are not going to prove he is a violent criminal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are your thoughts, Clarence?

MR. PAGE: Well, it sounds like deja vu all over again, John.

But before you can accuse a sitting popular president, you have got to have more than just the taped testimony held back by one woman, especially after all of the attacks that have been made against Bill Clinton over the last few years. I don't see this having any impact, unless you have got enough solid evidence to bring an indictment. It's just not there.


MR. BUCHANAN: Well, this is a really horrible charge. And if true, it's a horrible deed, John.

But I have got to agree in some sense with Eleanor. Look, this is 20 years old. And if something like this had occurred down there when he was running for attorney general or was attorney general, why in heaven's name didn't this come out? Why are other journalists not going forward with this story, when they have gone forward with other allegations? So I think you have got to put a question mark over the story.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Michael Barone?

MR. BARONE: Well, one possible answer to that is that as feminists have told us correctly for years, many people who are the victims of these kind of things, don't want to come forward for a variety of reasons. And of course in the case of Clinton, they will have Team Clinton attacking them in very which way possible.


MR. BARONE: I don't know whether this story is true or not. It's really -- it's distressing. But I have got to say, Dorothy Rabinowitz is a first-class journalist --


MR. BARONE: -- Lisa Myers is a first-class journalist. If they are willing to go with something, I think that gives it at least some credibility and says to me I should take it seriously.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The other reason for keeping it silent is that he was attorney general at the time. And the feeling was it would be self-defeating to bring it forward, on that basis alone.

But also she has been successful at running nursing homes and she was then, and that's dependent upon state funds. I suppose that also had something to do with it. But she was really in a state of shock when she was found in the hotel room.

We'll be right back.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions.


MR. BUCHANAN: John, the big names in politics right now are Hillary for Senate, and George Bush and Elizabeth Dole. My prediction would be one of the three will definitely not run, two of the three may very well not run, and there's a remote possibility that all three may not get into the race -- the various races.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? Really?

MR. BUCHANAN: You can move on now! (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, is that wishful thinking on your part? (Laughter.) Is that wishful thinking?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, it's just --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we know you think Hillary's not going to run. You believe that today. So presumably the next one who's not going to run is Liddy Dole.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think George Bush -- I think George Bush is probably going to run. But I would -- I would bet less on Elizabeth Dole when she looks at it down the road.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you even think that Bush may not run?

MR. BUCHANAN: Possibility.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, well that's a stretch, Pat, don't think you?


MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: He's clearing the field for himself! (Laughter.)


MS. CLIFT: I think Dole and Bush run.

Since we're talking threes here, though, Ken Starr is going to loose three trials: Hubbell, Susan McDougal, and Julie Hyatt Steele. But that judge in Little Rock is going to cite the president for contempt, and she's going to attach a fine to it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Civil charge? Civil contempt?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I think so, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not criminal?

MS. CLIFT: No, not criminal. Civil. It was a civil case.


MR. PAGE: John, your younger viewers, male viewers, will be happy to know that there's not going to be a return of the draft -- (laughing) -- although it has been discussed quite vigorously. The Pentagon is going to approve letting more high school dropouts with high school equivalencies get in.

MR. BARONE: The Senate will vote -- John, the Senate will vote -- it will reverse itself and vote for more missile defense.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Turkey will give Abdullah Ocalan, the captured Kurdish rebel leader, a fair trial and a prison term. No death sentence.

Next week: Senate hearings on the independent counsel statute, with the esteemed Senator Fred Thompson at the helm.




MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: And then there were three.

SEN. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D-NJ): (From videotape.) I weighed the option of spending two years primarily fund-raising for my election against spending full-time on the job, and I decided that's not what I want to do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As noted, speculation abounded this week with endless talk as to whether Hillary Rodham Clinton will seek the New York Senate seat of retiring Democrat Daniel Moynihan. But on Wednesday Washington was caught off guard when a second Democratic senator, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, announced that he would also vacate his seat next year. Within minutes, Democrats and Republicans were working full throttle to fill the seat. And on Thursday, yet another senator, a Democrat, Richard Bryan from Nevada, announced his retirement next year.

SEN. RICHARD BRYAN (D-NV): (From videotape.) There are some regrets. I am comfortable with my decision. It's been a great 36 years. I've done the things that I always dreamed of doing. My boyhood dream was to become governor. I was able to live that dream. But there's a time in my life for different opportunities, different challenges, and that's really come. It's been a personal decision.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question. There are now three Democratic Senate seats open for the 2000 election. Given these three retirements, how much tougher will it be for Democrats, now at a 45-seat occupancy, to regain the majority in the Senate?

Michael Barone?

MR. BARONE: Well, I think it's gotten to be about as -- it's still possible. It's about as tough for them as it turned out to be in the fall of '98 for the Republicans to get that 60-seats they thought they were -- they wanted for override a veto -- override a filibuster. The fact is they didn't gain any seats, at 55.

This does change the playing field somewhat, John. We had a situation before this where you had about five Republican seats in deep danger and only about one Democratic seat. Now that's gone up to about four. So -- but there'll be some changes coming along. There's talk about some Republicans retiring as well -- Connie Mack of Florida, perhaps. So --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you hear on that front?

MR. BARONE: Well, I hear that he has not committed to anybody down in Florida to run. He's a shoo-in if he runs for reelection. But he's a man who has done a lot of things he wanted to do, and maybe he would just like to go back to Cape Coral, Florida.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think the odds are that he won't run.


MS. CLIFT: Well, you know, open seats are more expensive and harder to defend. But the Democrats have some pretty good candidates. The former governor Miller in Nevada left office with a 70 percent approval rating. He would be probably a shoo-in. And in New Jersey, I mean Christy Todd Whitman would be formidable, if she runs. But the Democrats have a Cuban American, Bob Menendez, who would be the first person to tap into that community. So there are some competitive races out there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, do you know how to get somebody else to -- hey, Pat, do you know how else to clear the field, the presidential field? Steve Forbes. Steve Forbes from New Jersey. That Senate seat is now open. You whisper in Steve's ear, say, "Steve, it's tailor-made for you." Then he's out of the race, Pat, and you've got a clear shot!

MR. BUCHANAN: Listen, we just cleared out Bush and Dole. That would be terrific, John! (Laughs.)

He's running for president; that's all he wants. He doesn't care about a Senate seat.


MR. BUCHANAN: Why should he?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a beautiful seat.

MR. PAGE: It's cheaper -- it's cheaper.

MR. BUCHANAN: He wants to be president of the United States!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think he's unelectable. She thinks he's unelectable.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's nominatable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think he's unelectable?

MR. BUCHANAN: He's nominatable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's nominatable?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he's got money?

MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, yes, he's got money, John! (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: Lots of money!