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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TIM CARNEY, WASHINGTON EXAMINER; CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE TAPED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 27, 2010 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF AUGUST 28-29, 2010

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: States Strike Back.

FORMER PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: (From videotape.) All of us need to be reminded that the federal government did not create the states. The states created the federal government. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Divided government, with checks and balances and sovereignty stemming from the people, not the king. That was the genius of the American Constitution. The founders' design anticipated friction, not only between the branches of the federal government, but also between the states and Washington. President Obama's health-care legislation has sparked a battle by the states over the limits of federal power. Some are calling this state reaction an uprising. Voters in Missouri, a state Mr. Obama carried in 2008, overwhelmingly rejected the Obamacare mandate on all residents of the U.S. to purchase health insurance or pay a U.S. government fine. Seventy-one percent of Missourians voted against this Washington law recently.

Twenty states are contesting the constitutionality of the White House coercing the purchase of health insurance. In Virginia this month, a federal judge refused the Obama administration's motion to toss out a suit brought by Virginia's attorney general that says, in effect, that Obamacare is unconstitutional.

VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL KEN CUCCINELLI (R): (From videotape.) Virginia's position is that ordering the purchase of health insurance is not regulating economic activity. If this is activity that can be regulated under the commerce clause, then the federal government can reach anything. This is where you get to the massive expansion of federal power.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also on this legal action, Eric Holder, attorney general, represents the Obama government. He filed a motion for dismissal of this suit brought by the Virginia attorney general. The judge said no to Obama, yes to Cuccinelli. "You may proceed with your lawsuit against Obamacare on the basis of its non-constitutionality."

Question: Are these examples of normal give and take between Washington and the states, or are we on the threshold of a constitutional crisis? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: We're somewhere in between, John. There's no doubt that the states are really asserting their rights against the federal government, which is now taking 25 percent of the entire economy, the highest ever in peacetime. It's regulating more and more. There's enormous resistance at the state level.

My friend Tom Woods has written a book called "Nullification," which goes back to the Madison-Jefferson argument that the states have a right to nullify federal law. On gun laws, a lot of states are saying, "We will not enforce federal laws that tell us we have to violate the rights of our citizens."

So what you're getting is states -- it used to be they got in trouble in the past because of the civil-rights era. States' rights got a bad name. But now it is on the rights of states as against federal mandates, federal unfunded mandates. And these things -- I think a lot more governors -- Democrats, Republicans and others -- are saying, look, they're just imposing too much on the states, and the states ought to fight back.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you in that category? MR. BUCHANAN: I am very much in that category.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: It's very much politically inspired. There's an election in November. And I think the right -- the Republicans have really found that there is political reward in pushing this. But I would point out that Georgia, Texas, Louisiana and South Carolina have all stepped up to the bar to get their stimulus funds after a lot of talk that they would not receive it.

And on the mandate, there is a mandate currently in effect in Massachusetts that isn't being challenged constitutionally. And Barack Obama did not run on the mandate when he ran for president. In fact, he was opposed to it. And Howard Dean, who was governor of Vermont -- they have health reform there, and he says you don't really need the mandate. So if the mandate gets overturned, that doesn't mean the end of Obamacare.

And it still leaves us with the dilemma of when the guy who refuses to buy health-care insurance shows up at the emergency room, what do you do with him? I think they'll have to have an insurance kiosk in the hospital. You'll have to sign on the bottom line, because, you know, they're freeloaders. And I thought conservatives wanted to get freeloaders off the welfare rolls.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think those states that you mentioned are spineless and they don't have the strength of their own convictions?

MS. CLIFT: No, I think their leaders and maybe their legislatures came to their senses and realized that they could use these government funds when people are hurting in the midst of a recession.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know. It sounds like they're two-faced to me, Tim.

MR. CARNEY: I think they probably are two-faced. And Eleanor's problem about the uninsured is a problem, but it's not a problem the Constitution lets the federal government address. And that was Ken Cuccinelli's point. This is people choosing not to buy health insurance. And it's already illegal to buy private health insurance across state lines, so you've got -- they're calling it interstate commerce, even though it's in-state non-commerce. If Congress can regulate this, they can regulate anything. So this is an unprecedented assault on states' rights.

MR. PAGE: It's funny how the Supreme Court --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The federal government is insisting that all citizens buy health insurance --

MR. CARNEY: Yes. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- or get it, correct?

MR. CARNEY: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You cannot be without health insurance.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's what the federal --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's what the federal government is demanding.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, that's what's unconstitutional.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that's unconstitutional.

MR. PAGE: It's amusing to me how Justice Scalia, for example, didn't object to medicinal -- or rather he did object to medicinal- marijuana commerce in California that had no direct impact on other states.

The Supreme Court can go whichever way they want to, but I'm amazed that, you know, at my age, I'm in a position that nullification is coming back. (Laughs.) I mean, suddenly we're ready to don the blue and the gray now. This is more the new federalism. I think this is part of a culture war, John. I think this is part of the idea that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think that --

MR. PAGE: -- people out in a lot of these states, they say, "Hey, go in against Obama. That's a winner for Republicans. So let's just stand up here against that central government and let people be distracted from the economic crisis these states are suffering right now."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the argument against your position is frivolous?

MR. PAGE: Which one? Which argument? (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The argument that --

MR. PAGE: States' rights?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the government does not have the authority to command that you buy insurance if you don't want insurance -- MR. PAGE: Well, the supremacy clause in the Constitution --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and they're demanding --

MR. PAGE: The supremacy clause in the Constitution has something to say about that, John. So did the resolution of the Civil War, what I thought was a resolution, although I'm told --

MR. BUCHANAN: Clarence has a point, John. Clarence has a point in this. This country is fragmenting and it's disintegrating. If you take the Bishop report on "The Big Sort," if you take the counties of the country, more and more -- half of them vote by 20 percent or more for one party or the other. People are moving together not only ethnically but by values and beliefs. They're moving away from --

MR. PAGE: (Inaudible) -- my computer in the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean the tea party.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no, I'm talking about -- but it's --

(Cross talk.)

MR. PAGE: The voters in general, not just tea party. Everybody's --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's not South versus North.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, those voters may be part of the tea party, but they don't know it yet.

MR. PAGE: On the right there are tea-party people. On the left they're being -- (inaudible) -- as well.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, this is within states. It's not North- South. It's within states. There are conservative enclaves that are getting thicker and thicker in America and liberal enclaves where there are no conservatives. The country is breaking down.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on, Pat. That's always been where people gravitate to certain neighborhoods. That doesn't mean the whole country is disintegrating.

MR. BUCHANAN: But half the country --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's hear Pat.

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: You and I could get along as neighbors, couldn't we? (Laughter.)

MR. BUCHANAN: I moved out of your neighborhood. (Laughs.) MR. CARNEY: Everybody else in the country is seeing all the wealth, all the power --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Tim in, Pat.

MR. CARNEY: There is a giant sucking sound, and it's coming from Washington, D.C. All the wealth and all the power are coming here.

MR. PAGE: When people need help, they turn back to Washington to get it.

MR. CARNEY: Three of the richest --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let him in. Let him in.

MR. CARNEY: Three of the richest counties in this county are commuting distance to Washington, D.C. They see the money is coming here. They see the power is coming here. And they realize they have a little more say in their state legislature than they do here in Washington, D.C.

MS. CLIFT: And they want --

MR. CARNEY: And that's part of why.

MR. PAGE: And they're getting it.

MS. CLIFT: They want their share of the federal --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Clarence in here.

What do you want?

MR. PAGE: Well, President Obama on several occasions has been out there at ribbon cuttings. And right there in the audience, right there in the front row, are Republicans who voted against stimulus, but now they're out there ready to be part of the ribbon cutting. That's the reality of life.

MR. BUCHANAN: Are they hypocritical? Sure, they are. There's hypocrisy --

MR. PAGE: There is hypocrisy in politics? I'm shocked.

MR. BUCHANAN: No doubt about it, Clarence. But there's no doubt also about it, John, that this is a very powerful move. Perry, the governor of Texas, said, "We've got to think about secession" -- huge reaction from the tea-party folks. A lot of folks just are anti the federal government.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, I've got a -- let me in here. MR. BUCHANAN: They're as hostile as they've been in a long time.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The states can require motorists to buy insurance.

MR. BUCHANAN: They buy insurance --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Correct? What's the difference between that and the mandate we're talking about?

MR. BUCHANAN: You can't make somebody buy insurance on his own car. You can make him buy insurance so that if he hits somebody else, he's got to pay for it. That's the privilege --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also people are not compelled -- they're not compelled to drive.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got a privilege.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're not compelled to drive.

MR. BUCHANAN: Driving is a privilege.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. PAGE: However, the argument can be made that when you have uninsured people out there who have got to be paid for, that's an imposition on the rest of us who are paying for insurance.

MR. CARNEY: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question.

MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, that's precisely the question. Do you want to read the question? Exit question: If this goes to the Supreme Court, which side of the argument will prevail, the Obama position that making health insurance mandatory for everyone is unconstitutional, or the states' argument -- is constitutional, excuse me -- or the states' argument that mandatory insurance is unconstitutional? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Cuccinelli's argument that it's unconstitutional will prevail 6-3. I think Breyer will go with Scalia. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: It'll be a 5-4 decision one way or the other. (Laughter.) Health-care reform will survive, even without the mandate if it is overturned in the courts.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How?

MS. CLIFT: How? Because there are lots of -- you have financial incentives for people. Only the radical constitutionalists here are going to say, "We're not going to buy insurance." There's going to be insurance made available --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me your prediction.

MS. CLIFT: -- to the exchanges. That makes sense to people.

MR. CARNEY: Eleanor's wrong, because without requiring healthy people to buy insurance, the whole thing falls apart. Cuccinelli is right on the Constitution but he's going to lose in the Supreme Court, 5-4.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why?

MR. CARNEY: Why? Because the Supreme Court -- yeah, Kennedy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: With Elena there and with Sotomayor there? Is that --

MR. BUCHANAN: He's saying Kennedy's going the other way.

MR. CARNEY: Kennedy's going to go with the liberals and Cuccinelli is going to lose, because the Supreme Court likes federal power.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is Kennedy going to go the other way?

MR. CARNEY: Because he generally likes federal power.

MR. PAGE: Well, I agree. And I think the governors will be quietly relieved, because if the court doesn't swing that way, they're going to be stuck with a voter backlash when people realize, "Hey, you're taking away the health care that is directed toward the states here." So I suspect that's what's going to happen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think the court will move to declare it unconstitutional. Issue Two: Republican Would-Bes.

Republican nominees for president, November '12. Pick the winning GOP nominee for president: Palin, Huckabee, Gingrich, Romney, Jindal, Graham, Crist, Bush, Giuliani, Barbour, Petraeus, Pawlenty, Daniels, Pence, Thune, Paul.

Fourteen-point-six million people are without work. They blame Barack Obama. The lower Mr. Obama's ratings drop, the more these Republicans wake up at night hearing "Hail to the Chief."

The ranking of this list is from Gallup Poll data. The host of this program did not have anything to do with the probability ranking of these possible candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, 2012.

Question: Why do experience, credibility and trustworthiness count so much with the GOP voters? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, experience, trustworthiness -- (laughs) -- I would think they would count with all voters, John. But, look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This particular year.

MR. BUCHANAN: Here's the thing. What they want is they want a contrast to Barack Obama, who is considered an amateur.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean he lacks the experience?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, no, he's considered an amateur. He's messed up. He seems clueless. He seems out of it. He's got all these weaknesses. This is what gives Romney a certain strength, because people say, whatever you think of Romney -- he's been flip-flopping, et cetera, and he was this thing in Massachusetts -- he is an extremely competent man who made a half a billion dollars in business. And he knows what he's doing and he's good on the economy. So that's his real strength.

But, on the other hand, Sarah Palin has enormous fire, energy, authenticity.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, Romney is a Mormon.

MR. BUCHANAN: I know, and it's going to be very tough for him in the South, and it was before. But Huckabee's running number one right now in Iowa, John. Huckabee -- based on the Christians out there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has the Mormonism gone away?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, he remains a Mormon, John. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So he's a Mormon, and -- MR. BUCHANAN: But, you know, Mormons -- exactly. You saw those polls saying that Muslims -- how, you know, 58 percent didn't want a Muslim for president. A high number said we would not take a Mormon either.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the ecumenical condition in this country, you don't think --

MR. BUCHANAN: It shouldn't be.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- it has bleached out?

MR. BUCHANAN: It should bleach out. It should bleach out, but it hasn't.

MR. PAGE: It has shifted, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Huh?

MR. PAGE: It has shifted. There'll be some Pew poll that shows Obama being -- well, a lot of people still think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A Muslim?

MR. PAGE: -- he's a Muslim, yeah. (Laughter.) That same poll talked about how now Jews are considered to be the most trusted religion now. I mean, they've moved up. Muslims have moved down. It's the same kind of way, you know, African-Americans now are more accepted now politically than immigrants, illegal immigrants. So it's kind of been shifted around.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is also a decline, generally speaking, in the religiousness of the culture, broadly speaking. Religion doesn't count as much anymore.

MS. CLIFT: Well, it does --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no, broad scale, independently of denomination totally?

MR. BUCHANAN: It still counts for an awful lot, especially if you're a Mormon or you're a Muslim, quite frankly. MS. CLIFT: And I think it counts more probably in the Republican primaries. But I thought that one of the high points for Mitt Romney in the last presidential campaign was the speech that he delivered about his religion. And I think he can get beyond that. I think if the Republican Party reverts to form and nominates the person whose turn it is, who's run before, it would be Romney. And he does know about the economy. But the problem is, what he knows about the economy is how to downsize and fire people.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's what we need to do. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: He doesn't know how to create jobs. And that's going to be the challenge.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tim, how does Gingrich look to you?

MR. CARNEY: I think Gingrich, like Palin and Giuliani and, frankly, Huckabee, they're polling well now because they have big names. I think they don't have -- I would short their stock if I could.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, how about Huckabee's -- what did he do? He forgave --

MR. CARNEY: The pardon.

MR. BUCHANAN: He gave a pardon to a guy who killed four cops.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he going to be able to lick that rap?

MR. CARNEY: If he gets up near the top of the polls, that ad's going to be running. He doesn't have a strong appeal outside of his base.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Giuliani? You don't hear too much about him.

MR. BUCHANAN: There's a good reason why. Giuliani lost every primary. He said, "I'm waiting for Florida," and then he got clobbered there. And he's -- John, socially and culturally, and, frankly, the three marriages and what he did last time, I think Giuliani's out. And that's the big problem Newt's got. There's an article in a news magazine talking about his first two wives and all this stuff, which is very bad stuff.

MS. CLIFT: Well, the serious --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Newton is on his third wife?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MS. CLIFT: The serious candidates -- I think, in addition to Romney, I would -- Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. I would put Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels in that category. And I would put Haley Barbour from Mississippi. I think those are three people with experience and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And contacts in Washington.

MR. BUCHANAN: But, you know --

MS. CLIFT: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They know the scene.

MS. CLIFT: They lack --

MR. BUCHANAN: What they lack is charisma.

MS. CLIFT: -- national "umph." (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: They lack charisma.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think -- of them all, which one -- do you think Barbour is ahead of all the others?

MR. CARNEY: No. I mean, I would say that if I were to try to buy a penny stock on one of these right now, it would be Tim Pawlenty or Mitch Daniels.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pawlenty doesn't even figure very highly in this poll.

MR. CARNEY: Well, no. People don't know who he was. Howard Dean didn't figure --

MR. BUCHANAN: But he's working in Iowa, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what do you want to do, start from scratch, or do you want to start from a base?

MR. CARNEY: I think these guys can start from scratch and build up big. Obama started from scratch.

MR. BUCHANAN: If Pawlenty stepped into Iowa and won it somehow, came from behind and won that thing, he would suddenly eclipse, I think, Romney.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why are Mike Pence and John Thune on this list?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Thune is on the list because he's a U.S. senator. He's an attractive guy. Pence is a congressman, and I don't know when the last time a congressman ran for president and got the nomination.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. Mitch Daniels has a lot of good ideas about government, and -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who is he?

MS. CLIFT: He's the governor of Indiana.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What position did he hold?

MR. BUCHANAN: He was in the White House with me.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What position in the White House? Office of Management & Budget.

MR. BUCHANAN: But he also --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that very important?

MR. BUCHANAN: He was the head of the political office under Ronald Reagan when I was there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the OMB and the White House very important?

MR. CARNEY: I don't think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Am I going through this line of questioning with you again?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no, no. I think it is. But one of the problems is if you --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most powerful --

MR. BUCHANAN: But if you worked for --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- entity in the White House is the OMB.

MR. BUCHANAN: But if you worked for George W. Bush, who ballooned the deficit, is that a good credential?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Daniels? You keep hearing about Daniels in the Republican subterranean -- I mean, in the real --

MR. BUCHANAN: He's got a problem. He's a good friend. He's a friend of mine. But he sublet the Indiana toll road to a foreign country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: His current ratings as governor are in the 70 percent positive.

MS. CLIFT: He's (pledging ?) the revenue.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that tell you something? MR. BUCHANAN: He's a good governor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's a good governor.

MR. CARNEY: (Inaudible) -- privatized roads. And he's a great -- he's got great ideas. He's a good governor. He's not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's settle the matter. Exit question: Time forward, April 2012 -- you got it? April 2012. Who will be the Republican presidential nominee? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Palin or Romney.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me one or the other.

MR. BUCHANAN: Palin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Palin?

MR. BUCHANAN: If she wins Iowa and goes to South Carolina and wins that, goodbye and good luck.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's looking better now?

MR. BUCHANAN: She looks good all the time. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: You know, there's a difference between getting a sliver of the electorate all excited about you and appealing to 50.1 percent.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's more than a sliver of the Republican Party, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Her --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who is your candidate?

MS. CLIFT: I would say Romney.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Romney?

MS. CLIFT: Romney, or --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Business background. We need that today.

MS. CLIFT: And I'd put Pawlenty as a possibility.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because of the economy? Was he successful? Very.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, because, in the end, I don't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's a multimillionaire. MS. CLIFT: -- think the Republican Party is going to go off the cliff with Sarah Palin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's a multimillionaire with, what, a dozen kids, beautiful family?

MR. CARNEY: Five boys. It'll be Romney, because, as Eleanor said, the Republicans always pick the guy whose turn it is next.

MR. PAGE: It's going to be Romney because of something you all haven't talked about, which is the way the Republicans have their rules set up, their winner-take-all primaries, in contrast to the way the Democrats do it. And that's a big reason why seniority counts with Republicans. It is Romney's turn. So my money is still on him to pull ahead of the pack. And the rest will be fighting it out for who's going to be the front runner four years later.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's too close to call. (Laughter.)

MR. PAGE: No, no, John. You can't say that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll go with Romney.

Issue Three: A Star Is Born.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN): (From videotape.) I think the new normal will be when Speaker Pelosi loses her gavel. (Cheers, applause.) And the new normal is when Harry Reid joins the unemployment line. (Cheers, applause.) And two years from now, President Obama will be a one-term president. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is on a roll, some say. She is the voice of the tea-party movement in the U.S. House of Representatives. She serves as the Tea Party Caucus chair. Bachmann's profile has been raised so significantly that some Republicans speculate whether a 2012 national destiny is in store for her -- maybe the Republican nominee for vice president of the United States.

Bachmann herself has not commented on any such speculation. In any case, the road to the White House may not be a straight shot for the congresswoman. Bachmann's political emphasis, both in Washington and in Minnesota, is against federally funded subsidized programs. But she gained federal agriculture subsidies in connection with the Bachmann family farm in Wisconsin over a period of five years, which funding ended four years ago.

Question: Will this government subsidy for the Bachmann family farm hurt her popularity, or will Bachmann be the new GOP heavy hitter come this November? Tim Carney. MR. CARNEY: I think she can be a heavy hitter the way that Palin is being a heavy hitter now. But if she tries to -- you know, if she tried to run statewide or bigger than that, I think it could hurt her.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I think she's very popular on the far right of the Republican Party, but I don't think she has national appeal. She's said things that are really over the top and really kind of kooky.

And she's now --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Like what?

MS. CLIFT: Well, she suggested that members of Congress be investigated for their un-American activities at one point.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Un-American activities?

MS. CLIFT: Un-American activities, with no --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, you want to begin there. You want to begin there.

MS. CLIFT: -- with no apparent memory of the McCarthy era and how that damaged the country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know that --

MS. CLIFT: She's so far out, John. And she's heading the Tea Party Caucus. It's a small group --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Matthews coaxed her into that. He coaxed her into that.

MR. PAGE: She meant it, John. She meant it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He put her on skids.

MR. PAGE: The very fact that Pat supports her should warn you.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: She had no problem going along with it.

MR. CARNEY: But this Democratic line about her being extreme -- I mean, privatizing Social Security, most people my age don't believe we're going to get Social Security. There's a variety of issues that Democrats want to brand as extreme, but I'm sorry; this year a lot of those are popular. MR. PAGE: You're not going to be happy to pay into it and then not get it, are you?

MS. CLIFT: Privatizing --

MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John --

MR. CARNEY: I'm not going to get it.

MR. PAGE: Well, you're not going to be happy having to pay into it and not get it, are you?

MR. CARNEY: I'd rather -- yes, I'd like to not pay it.

MR. PAGE: I mean, there are political repercussions if you don't get your Social Security, believe me.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me get back to Bachmann, John. Let me get back to Bachmann. I think she's a very attractive lady. She is on the right wing of the Republican Party. What she's got to do, I think, is run statewide, get herself a governor or a Senate seat before she runs national.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat --

MR. BUCHANAN: But she is a tremendous draw out there in the congressional races.

MR. PAGE: I like the idea of that, Bachmann as running mate, because she could compete with Joe Biden as a gaffe machine.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. PAGE: We in the media would love it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we agree that Obama's going to dump Biden and put Hillary on there.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hillary on the ticket.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We agree with that.

MR. PAGE: We don't agree. Who is "we," John? (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it is common enlightenment.

MR. PAGE: Well, I don't know that it necessarily is going to help Obama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's street enlightenment.

MR. PAGE: I wouldn't oppose it, frankly, but, you know, I don't think it's going to happen. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me give you the scenario, all right? The Republicans do take over the House. Who do you think is going to be the leader of the Republicans in the House?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think there might be a run against Boehner if the Republicans take over the House. But I don't know who it would be, quite frankly.

MS. CLIFT: It would be Eric Cantor, probably.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got Cantor.

MS. CLIFT: It would not be Michele Bachmann.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Paul Ryan is rising in the ranks. They want a house clean too, just like everybody else, so Paul Ryan and also Bachmann.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got Pence in there and you've got, you know, and Cantor in there, and you've got someone else.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If Bachmann is realigning the tea party, she can move in with the tea party there and take that job.

MR. CARNEY: Then there will be a struggle between --

MR. BUCHANAN: She can't get a majority of House members.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MR. CARNEY: There'll be a struggle between the establishment guys -- the Boehners, the Blunts, the guys who are close to all the lobbyists -- and the tea-party guys coming in from the outside.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We are agreed that these young Turks, if they do take over the White House -- not the White House; I don't want to get too far ahead of this whole discussion --

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- but if they take over the control of the House, they will want to get new faces in there, and the --

MS. CLIFT: They will not want Michele Bachmann, because the tea party is not going to win in such great numbers that they're going to be a dominant voice on Capitol Hill.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, baloney. I don't agree with that at all, because the tea party is bigger than the tea party looks.

MS. CLIFT: They're bombing out in the primaries. And the ones that are winning are so far out, they're not going to win the general. MR. BUCHANAN: I agree with --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the tea party bigger than the tea party?

MR. BUCHANAN: The tea party is very, very large. But if the Republicans win, the Republicans will decide --

MS. CLIFT: Absolutely.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- who gets to be speaker, and they will not give it to a tea-party member.

MS. CLIFT: Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The young Turks will take over, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I don't think so.

MR. PAGE: Nah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Barack Obama succeeded or will succeed in getting our troops down to 50,000 in Iraq by the end of August, John. But the 50,000 are not coming out by the end of 2011. My guess is there's going to be a deal cut with the Iraqis, because I don't think the Iraqis can handle it. They know it and we know it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Congress will come back after the election in a lame- duck session and they will pass the START treaty, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, with the Russians. And it will be thanks to the leadership of Indiana Senator Republican Richard Lugar that they'll overcome the partisan passions and actually get something positive done.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know, the Senate might not go willingly to signature, in view of the fact that Russia is extracting the uranium that's been supplied by making it enriched and giving it back to Iran. MS. CLIFT: I think the Senate will pass the START treaty and it will go to President Obama for his signature. I stand by that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Timothy.

MR. CARNEY: Republican gains will be disappointing in November. They will not gain either chamber. They might not even get --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MR. CARNEY: -- 30 seats in the House. I think they'll shoot themselves in the foot. The fact is, the tea-party guys, whom I love, a lot of them are inexperienced. And the Democrats will chalk it up as a win that they hold on to both chambers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Very sobering.

Quickly.

MR. PAGE: I'm more optimistic for Republican chances than he is. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that your prediction?

MR. PAGE: I think the economy will show an improvement in October, but it'll be too late to save the Democrats from disaster.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict that Michele Bachmann will be the Republican vice-presidential candidate in 2012.

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Bye-bye.

END.