THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, WASHINGTON TIMES; CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE TAPED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2010 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 30-31, 2010
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Stumping Obama.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) If everybody who voted in 2008 votes in 2010, we are confident we will win this election.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The scene is Rhode Island, where the most heavily reported race is a three-way bid for Rhode Island state governor. The Democratic Party in Rhode Island officially endorsed gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio, who is currently state treasurer. Caprio is opposed in the governor's race by Republican John Robitaille and one-term Republican U.S. Senator Lincoln Chafee, who turned independent in 2007. Chafee comes from an old-line Republican family. His father John was both Rhode Island governor and U.S. senator. In 2008, Lincoln Chafee endorsed Barack Obama during the presidential campaign, and 63 percent of Rhode Islanders gave Obama their vote for president, third in the nation after Hawaii, 72, and Vermont, 68.
This year Mr. Obama did not endorse either the independent Lincoln Chafee or Frank Caprio, the Rhode Island Democratic Party's official nominee. Caprio was asked what he thought about Obama's silence.
FRANK CAPRIO (Rhode Island Democratic gubernatorial candidate): (From videotape.) I never asked for President Obama's endorsement. You know, he can take his endorsement and really shove it, as far as I'm concerned.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One day later, Caprio was interviewed.
(Begin videotaped segment.)
MEREDITH VIEIRA (NBC "Today" co-host): Let's get the reality here politically. Lincoln Chafee is a friend of the president's.
MR. CAPRIO: It was played out just like in the worst way of backroom politics. On late Sunday night, on the eve before the president was coming into Rhode Island, a very odd trip, a reporter contacted us, not the White House. We were more than happy to stay silent about this and let the president come and go campaign with them in a small business in our state. But they politicized it. So that's the reality.
MS. VIEIRA: If, for some reason, the president were to contact you and say, "You know, I need every governor in my corner. I've changed my mind, Frank. I really do want to support you. I want to endorse you." Would you welcome that endorsement?
MR. CAPRIO: Like I said, I have the highest level of respect for the president. I'd be happy to field his call.
(End videotaped segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why did Obama, President Obama, go to Rhode Island? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: He went in to save Patrick Kennedy's seat. The last of the Kennedys is retiring from Congress, John. That seat, you'd be surprised, is up for grabs. And the president wanted to save it. But this is a general disaster. Caprio should not have done that, because you don't insult the president of the United States. I don't care who he is. And secondly, when your base is the same as the president's, that's foolish. But the president should not have gone into Rhode Island and leaked the word that "I'm not going to endorse the Democratic candidate." It was a debacle all the way around. It was a bad day for everybody, especially Caprio, who I do not think is going to win. I think Chafee's going to be the next governor of Rhode Island.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this the end of the Kennedy dynasty?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, it is temporarily, unless one of them chooses to run against Scott Brown in 2012 in Massachusetts. And I think the Kennedys could come back. There's no doubt about it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eunice's son is the mayor of, what, Santa Monica?
MS. CLIFT: There are --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he the last Kennedy in politics?
MS. CLIFT: There are a couple of Kennedys --
MS. CROWLEY: Kennedy-Shriver.
MS. CLIFT: There are a couple of Kennedys holding office. But this next Congress will be the first time there won't be a Kennedy in the Congress in more than half a century.
The White House didn't leak that he wasn't going to endorse the Democrat in Rhode Island. They did a phone call on Sunday afternoon. I was on the phone call. (Laughter.) So it was not a secret. And I think it is personal loyalties to Lincoln Chafee. He was in the Senate with Obama, and he endorsed him over John McCain. So I think he was returning that.
And it's also a signal that this president, despite all of the labels that the other side puts on him, that he's a socialist and he's so far left, he's really not a Democrat through and through. He acts under other obligations as well. But I think what he did in Rhode Island -- John, that's your home state; it's a very Democratic state -- he's trying to rally his base, which is young people and African- Americans. And I think he's having some success. They're typically the lowest turnout in these midterm elections.
MS. CROWLEY: Here is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's the most Democratic state, with the exception of two others. But why is Obama -- is Obama damaged goods, do you think? You saw The New York Times. His job approval rating is 45. His disapproval rating is 47.
MS. CLIFT: He's no more damaged goods than Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton was at this time in their first terms. He's hurting because the economy is hurting. The Democrats are going to take a hit. But I wouldn't align yourself, John, with the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, who says he's going to devote the next two years to making sure that Obama is a one-term president.
MS. CROWLEY: Let me take a crack at that question, John.
MS. CLIFT: I think that's a fool's errand.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that?
MS. CLIFT: I think that's a fool's errand.
MS. CROWLEY: Let me take a crack at that question about Obama. (Laughs.)
MR. PAGE: A slow boil --
MS. CROWLEY: Here's the problem for Democrats. This week Harris released a poll showing Barack Obama at a 37 percent job-approval rating. It took President Bush years to get to 37 percent. It took Barack Obama a year and a half. He is a millstone around the neck of most Democratic candidates this year.
Huge majorities of the American people reject every single big legislative achievement of this presidency and of this Congress, from the stimulus to Obamacare to cap and trade; unemployment at 10 percent, stagnant economic growth. We heard this week only a 2 percent growth rate -- anemic.
So what's happening is you've got this curious phenomenon of Democrats running against their own president, running against their own agenda. In fact, this week we had this absurd development of a Mississippi Democrat named Gene Taylor blurting out, because he's panicked about his race, blurting out that he voted for John McCain and not Barack Obama in 2008.
MR. PAGE: That's why it's panic. (Laughs.)
MS. CROWLEY: What's next, admitting that they voted for George W. Bush?
MR. PAGE: Very conservative Democrat in a very conservative district --
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. PAGE: -- who's probably going to be a Republican this time next week. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: His biggest problem is the jobs in the United States.
MR. PAGE: Of course. That's all of our problem.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he has exhibited some plan for resolving that, or does he just keep dancing away from it?
MR. PAGE: Don't forget, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he focusing on jobs?
MR. PAGE: Even Monica said we're recovering; just too slowly. That's the difficulty right now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm talking about job creation.
MS. CROWLEY: Job creation.
MR. PAGE: Well, exactly. Well, of course he's got a plan. He's been implementing it. But it's not enough.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he has a broad economic plan. But can you see it siphoning out into job creation?
MR. PAGE: Absolutely. It's already happening. I mean, everybody's got their different views as to what should be done from here. I think more resources will be poured into it. But we're going to have a more conservative Congress --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we've got a 10 percent --
MR. PAGE: -- so it's probably not going to happen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- 10 percent jobless --
MR. BUCHANAN: John -- nobody's got a plan, John.
MR. PAGE: If you want to have an economic discussion, that's fine, but the fact is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Huh?
MR. BUCHANAN: Nobody's got a plan for jobs. Look, Obama --
MR. PAGE: Of course we do.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- tried with the stimulus bill. The Federal Reserve doubled the money supply. They put interest rates down to zero. The Republicans are arguing for tax cuts. You're not going to get those in the next Congress. You've got a deficit that's 10 percent of GDP. MR. PAGE: Obama gave you tax cuts.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- quantitative easing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One more question on Obama and the way he's conducting himself during this campaign. And the question is, is his tone shrill? For example, he tells Latinos to, quote, "punish your enemies." He tells Democrats that the Republicans have to be made to see that they should sit in the back, meaning the back of the bus.
MR. PAGE: Back of the bus, right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So he's bringing all that to the fore.
MR. PAGE: Inasmuch as that language can be taken out of context --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that very unlike Obama?
MR. PAGE: Inasmuch as you can take that language out of context, yes. But the fact is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think that was out of context? You don't think those are cue words?
MR. PAGE: Those are out of -- I heard the speeches, John; I know. No, the fact of the matter is that, yeah, to be a president, you've got to preach optimism.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. PAGE: You've got to give that sunny --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, not only optimism.
MR. PAGE: -- spirit that Ronald Reagan gave back in the '80s.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But you have to be reasonably irenic.
MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, Clarence -- Clarence --
MR. PAGE: You do, and I think --
MR. BUCHANAN: Clarence, what does "punish your enemies" mean?
MR. PAGE: Well --
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) MS. CLIFT: It means --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It means Republicans are your enemies.
MS. CLIFT: It means re-electing --
MR. PAGE: It means you --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, let Eleanor in.
MS. CLIFT: It means re-electing a Democratic Congress and denying the Republicans their fantasy over the last year.
MR. BUCHANAN: If Nixon used that, you'd go off the wall.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is Axelrod doing for him?
MR. PAGE: You mean he didn't?
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is Axelrod doing? Is he feeding him this stuff? Inherently you don't see that in Obama.
MS. CLIFT: Feeding him stuff?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's out of character for him.
MR. BUCHANAN: It is out of character.
MS. CLIFT: He's trying to rally -- he's trying to rally Democrats, who are angry at the other side.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, do they -- are you alleging Democrats feeding on this kind of --
MS. CLIFT: I would like it -- I would like it if he had a more optimistic tone.
MS. CROWLEY: Here is the problem.
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me.
MS. CROWLEY: Here is the problem for Obama. MS. CLIFT: But he is succeeding, finally, in looking like he's fighting back.
MS. CROWLEY: Succeeding at --
MS. CLIFT: Democrats felt like he was not aggressive enough, that the Republicans played him --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, so he's feeding their political appetite.
MS. CLIFT: -- that he chased --
MS. CROWLEY: I would hardly say --
MS. CROWLEY: I would hardly say --
MS. CLIFT: Monica, would you please let me finish?
MS. CROWLEY: -- a 37 percent --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish. Let her finish. Let her finish. Hold on, Monica.
MS. CLIFT: The Democrats feel that he really was played by the Republicans, chasing this fantasy of bipartisanship. And they're glad to see him fighting back. And this is a fight. This is a real battle. People are getting stomped on out on the campaign trail.
MS. CROWLEY: Eleanor says he's succeeding. I would hardly call a 37 percent job approval in his first term succeeding.
MS. CLIFT: He's 48 percent in Gallup. (Laughs.)
MS. CROWLEY: The other part -- the other part of his problem is that when he comes up with language like this, it is wholly unpresidential. He is supposed to be president of all of the people --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CROWLEY: -- including those who oppose him and his agenda. The other part of his problem is that it violates the Obama brand.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CROWLEY: The Obama brand was bringing everybody together and healing what divides us.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. MS. CROWLEY: He has gone out there and been the most divisive --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question.
MR. PAGE: A word from the other side.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If, instead of hitting the campaign trail, President Obama had stayed in the White House, would the Democrats then have been in which one of these conditions -- multiple choice -- A, would they be better off? B, would they be worse off? C, would they be about the same?
MR. BUCHANAN: Caprio would be better off. (Laughs.) But, no, I think basically -- I think he helped some Democrats in the Democratic base.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, do you mean --
MR. BUCHANAN: Overall I think it's a wash.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In which districts?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think there -- liberal districts he helps; there's no doubt about it. But he hurts -- he hurts --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the unsafe seats he might help.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, the Blue Dogs are going to be euthanized en masse on Tuesday.
MS. CLIFT: Well, the Republicans won 54 seats in 1994. The Democrats basically won those seats back over a series of elections. These are swing seats, and a lot of them are going to fall back into the Republican agenda.
MS. CROWLEY: Listen --
MS. CLIFT: And I think the president has helped by fighting back. A president who retreats in the White House --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you think he's tough. Okay.
MS. CLIFT: -- and doesn't fight will add to your fantasy that he's not going to run again.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, the answer is A, according to Eleanor.
MS. CROWLEY: Caprio was thrilled that Obama didn't endorse him. No wise Democrat wants this president at 37 percent --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean there were -- MS. CROWLEY: -- coming in and campaigning for them. And the very telling thing is the fact that Obama had to go into blue states like Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Illinois.
That tells you what kind of --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think that it would have been better if he had stayed in the White House, from their point of -- from the Democrats' point of --
MS. CROWLEY: Phone it in, baby. Phone it in. (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: No.
MR. PAGE: Don't dance on the grave too soon.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are they better off, worse off, or the same?
MR. PAGE: John, we knew this going into this election. It was going to swing toward the Republicans. It was going to be a campaign full of anger. And the fact is that he went out there and stemmed some of the hemorrhaging. There's no question he's done his party some good.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The magic is gone. They're worse off.
Issue Two: Election Pitches of 2010.
U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE CHRISTINE O'DONNELL (R-DE): (From videotape.) I'm not a witch. I'm nothing you've heard. I'm you. I'll go to Washington and do what you'd do. I'm Christine O'Donnell, and I approved this message.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tuesday's candidates are flooding the airwaves with political ads -- 37 races for the U.S. Senate, 37 governors, and, of course, 435 U.S. House seats. The television sell is huge, and some of the ads are memorable.
A few samples. Most humorous: Democrat John Hickenlooper, the sitting mayor of Denver, is concurrently running for governor of Colorado.
DENVER MAYOR AND GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D): (From videotape.) I'm John Hickenlooper, and I guess I'm not a very good politician because I can't stand negative ads. Every time I see one, I feel like I need to take a shower. And you see a lot of it. With all the challenges we face, Colorado needs a governor who brings people together to create jobs and cut government spending.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did Hickenlooper take the high road?
MR. BUCHANAN: It's a funny ad and it's a good message, especially for his base. People are fed up with all the negative ads. He looks like a nice guy, and a little bit of humor, and he's going to run a clean political campaign.
The problem is Tom Tancredo is gaining on him. And if I were him this weekend, if he had to, I'd dump a lot of negative ads, I'll tell you.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who is Tancredo?
MR. PAGE: Tancredo's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is Tancredo's party line?
MR. BUCHANAN: He's a Constitution Party guy and a Republican.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that? What's that?
MR. BUCHANAN: That's Howard Phillips's third party. And the Republican candidate --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Howard Phillips. Is that still around?
MR. PAGE: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: Howard is still here. The Republican is down below --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Reform Party is gone, right?
MR. BUCHANAN: The Reform Party is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's your party.
MR. BUCHANAN: It is gone.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You crushed that.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's in the canal, John. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the canal. But there's a Constitution Party out there?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, there is. It's on the ballot. Here's the thing --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the fundamental proposition? (Inaudible.) MR. BUCHANAN: The real problem --
MS. CROWLEY: Duh. (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: -- Republicans could lose their ballot position in 2012 in Colorado for falling below 10 percent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember Howard?
MS. CLIFT: I do. Now --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where is Howard?
MR. BUCHANAN: Howard's living out there in the same building -- works in the same building with Bay, my sister. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: Back to Hickenlooper -- (laughter) -- he's running well ahead, which is why he can afford to take the high road.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: And Pat should tell you that his sister is running Tom Tancredo's campaign.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: So that's why we got a little plug here for him gaining.
MR. BUCHANAN: Tancredo's within one point. He came within one point, though, in one poll.
MS. CLIFT: Okay, well, if Tancredo wins, I'll eat your tie this week.
MS. CROWLEY: Tom Tancredo is gaining, and he's within the margin of error. And I have a feeling he might -- he's got the momentum now, and he's got money pouring in, and he might actually be able to pull this off.
The bigger question about these ads is that a lot of the Democrats -- Republicans too, but mostly Democrats -- are running negative personal attack ads against their opponent because they don't have a message. What are they supposed to run on? They're supposed to run on an economic message? The economy is still very, very shaky -- high unemployment. So all that's left for the Democrats is sort of this knee-jerk reaction to go after their opponents in a personal way. Hickenlooper is the exception to the rule.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, best attack ad against Barbara Boxer, sitting Democratic senator from California, being challenged this year by Republican Carly Fiorina. ANNOUNCER: (From videotape.) Barbara Boxer failed to protect California jobs, praises the stimulus plan, while two-and-a-quarter million Californians are unemployed, trillions in deficits, billions in taxes, our hopes crushed by Washington -- the legacy of Barbara Boxer.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Will the Boxer-Fiorina contest go down to the wire? I ask you, Clarence.
MR. PAGE: Whenever I hear that doomsday voice and the black-and- white pictures, the news is not good, you know. But, you know, again, going into this campaign season, all the consultants are saying, "Attack, attack, attack." Pat was right in the sense that nobody's got the answer on the economy, the big issue. And the Republicans are the party of no. The Democrats are saying, you know, not them. So it's like Barbara Boxer now has been suffering because of that. But I think she's going to pull it out. What we don't know is how Carly Fiorina's health issues now in the 11th hour might affect the turnout. But I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it might help her sympathy vote?
MR. PAGE: You know, it's possible. But it could go the other way. You know, health issues can work both ways.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Connected with her breast-cancer surgery, right?
MR. PAGE: That's what I understand, yeah.
MS. CLIFT: But she's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that could arouse sympathy.
MS. CLIFT: It was an infection and it was handled with antibiotics, so let's not make it more serious than it need be.
MS. CROWLEY: Yes. And she was out on the campaign trail the next day.
MR. BUCHANAN: California is --
MS. CLIFT: She's trailing Barbara Boxer, and that's why she's got this attack ad out. And Fiorina should be doing better with women, and she really isn't. Her Sarah Palin endorsement in the primaries helped her win the primary, but it's baggage in the general election in a blue state like California.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to speak to this? MS. CROWLEY: Well, look, Carly Fiorina was trailing and remains trailing behind Barbara Boxer. She's trying to pull out all the stops and remind California voters that this is a big-government, big- spending liberal, Barbara Boxer. And if California is going to get its fiscal house in order and if the nation is going to get its fiscal house in order, you've got to get rid of Barbara Boxer.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, best political --
MR. PAGE: That would be catastrophic if Democrats lost California.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me. Best political platform summary: Florida Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek, running for the United States Senate seat currently held by George LeMieux, who replaced Mel Martinez after Martinez resigned last year.
REP. KENDRICK MEEK (Florida Democratic U.S. Senate candidate): (From videotape.) I'm Kendrick Meek, the Democrat for Senate. And with three of us running, you should know what makes me different. I'm the only one who's fought against developers draining the Everglades, the only one against offshore oil drilling before and after the BP spill, the only one against privatizing Social Security, the only one who's pro-choice, who took on George Bush, who's fought for middle-class tax cuts, against high credit-card fees, and to raise the minimum wage.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is the message of the ad politically effective or ineffective? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's politically wrong. There's a couple of things. Nobody is for privatizing Social Security in Florida, for heaven's sakes. But, look, it's a very effective ad, I think. And the problem --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's he running for?
MR. BUCHANAN: He's running for the Senate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who are the other two candidates?
MR. BUCHANAN: Governor Crist and Marco Rubio, who's way ahead. And John, right at the weekend, Clinton was down there trying to get Meek to drop out of the race in favor of Charlie Crist. And I think it's going to blow up very, very large, because this is the only African-American with a shot of being in the U.S. Senate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He doesn't say anything about jobs. And job creation is a big issue down there, and in the country, as I've mentioned before.
MR. BUCHANAN: But it's a good ad to introduce Meek. MR. PAGE: Actually, mortgages are a bigger issue.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know. Do you think it's a waste of money?
MR. BUCHANAN: Largely, yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a good-feeling ad.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's a nice ad.
MS. CLIFT: It's a great ad. It's a great ad.
MR. PAGE: Meek would have been better off if Crist hadn't run to the left. The hope was Crist would cut into Rubio's vote, but now Crist has turned into kind of a pseudo-Democrat as far as his agenda is concerned, pushing abortion rights and stem-cell research and all. And that is really hurting Meek, cutting Meek's support.
MS. CLIFT: Meek is polling at, like, 15 percent. And the Democrats are really anxious to keep the Senate. And they also see Marco Rubio as a leader for the Republican Party, so they're trying to cut him off.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that, Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: It makes political sense.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that? Does Rubio impress you?
MS. CLIFT: He is incredibly facile and glib. I don't like what he says. But he certainly puts it together in a way that's attractive.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's national material, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?
MS. CLIFT: He's very charismatic.
MR. BUCHANAN: National material.
MS. CROWLEY: Marco Rubio --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: National material.
MR. BUCHANAN: National material.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: National material. You mean vice presidential?
MR. BUCHANAN: Vice presidential. I bet they'd look at him -- if he wins, they would look at him in 2012. MS. CROWLEY: Marco Rubio --
MR. BUCHANAN: Hispanic votes.
MS. CROWLEY: He is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's missing? What's bad? What's the negative about him?
MR. PAGE: He's from Florida.
MR. BUCHANAN: They've got some problems down there.
MS. CLIFT: Ethical problems.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think using the Republican credit card --
MR. BUCHANAN: Credit cards, yeah. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: For lunch? So what? Big deal?
MS. CROWLEY: Are you kidding me?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Big deal?
MR. BUCHANAN: It's a lunch. Who cares?
MS. CROWLEY: Come on.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead.
MS. CLIFT: Free lunches.
MS. CROWLEY: Marco Rubio -- Marco Rubio is a conservative superstar. He is young. He is very articulate. He's a Cuban- American. He's got enormous appeal. And he's going to win this race.
Kendrick Meek ran a very classy campaign. I have to say, I love that ad. He's handled himself with great grace, even after the silver fox, Bill Clinton, tried to detonate his campaign.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's also indispensable to a national ticket because he's Latino?
MS. CROWLEY: He could be. But you've got to give him some time and some seasoning --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the percentage of the --
MS. CROWLEY: -- in the Senate. But he is the future of the Republican Party.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the percentage of the Latino population? MR. BUCHANAN: It's 15 percent of the population but only seven and a half percent of the vote.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sixteen percent of the population.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, you were wrong last week.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Political spending this year is estimated to top $3 billion, a new record. Is this sum of money, A, too much; B, about right; C, too little; D, misspent?
MR. BUCHANAN: In some states, like California, it's reached saturation and redundancy, where it's backfiring.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here you go again, skirting the A-B-C-D. (Laughter.)
MR. BUCHANAN: It depends on the state. Some states it's too little; others it's too much.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, here we go. Here we go, Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Take some testosterone, will you?
MR. BUCHANAN: Man up, John. (Laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: I'm going to go with A, wretched excess, and particularly because a lot of the corporate money and the conservative money is coming in anonymously.
MS. CROWLEY: Whereas Eleanor likes to focus on the GOP money, let's take a look at the Democratic money, because the unions --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Well, all these --
MS. CROWLEY: -- have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Democratic --
MR. PAGE: Look, John, this is a big stimulus program for the media, because that's where most of this money is going --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right on.
MR. PAGE: -- for TV ads, newspaper ads, et cetera, et cetera. And we need the money.
MR. BUCHANAN: We spend more on dog food, John, than we do on politics. What are you talking about? MS. CLIFT: The dogs deserve it. The politicians don't. And the unions, we know where the money's coming from.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This $3 billion is at least okay, if not too little.
Issue Three: Health Care Backlash?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) We cannot sit this one out. We can't let this country fall backwards because the rest of us didn't care enough to fight.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Barack Obama has been U.S. president for 20 months. His prime accomplishment thus far, arguably, is the federal health bill that became law seven months ago, last March. The health bill was anticipated to be a landmark achievement, but much of the praise it got has evaporated. Indeed, many Americans now regard Obamacare as not even a zero but an active minus.
To review, the health law makes it compulsory for all Americans to buy health insurance or, if they refuse, to pay a tax, really a fine. Opposition to the health bill has risen so much that 20 states have filed lawsuits against the federal government, claiming that the new health-care bill is unconstitutional.
Now, on the threshold of this election, some voters are worried about the perceived government's newfound interference in health care. Forty-nine percent of voters have a negative opinion of health care versus 39 percent who have a positive view. These numbers tell us, many believe, that a majority of voters Tuesday will be opposed to the health-care bill.
Some defenders of Obama's health bill say that it was based on the Massachusetts health bill developed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, but Romney says that the Massachusetts health bill is a far cry from Obamacare. In his autobiography, "No Apology," Romney claims that the comparison between the two is erroneous.
He says, quote, "The notion of the federal government getting involved into the health-insurance business is a very bad idea. Government-supplied insurance would inevitably be subsidized at great cost to the taxpayers. And, combined with Medicare and Medicaid, it would give the government the kind of monopoly we would never allow a private entity to claim. Clearly the public-insurance option is simply a transitional step towards the president's stated goal of creating a single-payer system, one in which the nation's sole health insurer would be the federal government," unquote.
Eleanor, is that introduction overstated?
MS. CLIFT: I think that's Romney's attempt to make chicken salad out of chicken something else, frankly. The national bill is modeled after his bill, which has an individual mandate, and that's something that Republicans initially proposed. And I think the Obama health- care plan is going to stand as an historic achievement. I think the Republicans are campaigning on they're going to repeal it. They're not going to get 60 votes in the Senate for that and they're not going to get the president's signature, so they'll attempt to slow-walk --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Unless they have the Senate. Unless they have the Senate.
MS. CLIFT: But you still have to get 60 to include anything like that. They're not going to have 60 seats.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's true.
MR. BUCHANAN: You've got to get --
MS. CLIFT: And you have Republicans campaigning on the big lie that they will keep the aspects of the insurance plan --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you have --
MS. CLIFT: -- that people like and repeal the rest of it --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know as well as I --
MS. CLIFT: -- which is impossible.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know as well as I there are a lot of Democrats on the Hill that don't like this bill.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah. But you're going to have -- John, to repeal it --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- to repeal it, you'd need 67 votes --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?
MR. BUCHANAN: -- to override a presidential veto. You're not going to do that. But this bill is an albatross around the neck of the Democratic Party. It is going to drag down many of these Blue Dogs. Especially in these tight races in semi-conservative districts, it is a killer.
MR. PAGE: You said that in '66 about Medicare, didn't you? I mean, there was a backlash against these other programs too.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, I said this is going to -- in '66 you lost 47 seats, Clarence, as you recall. MR. PAGE: Right. But that's what happens with these programs. You get an initial backlash, but over time trying to repeal it, that's unprecedented. It's not going to happen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Obamacare a significant issue in Illinois, where you do your column?
MR. PAGE: Not as significant as jobs. Not as significant as jobs. We've got about 13 percent unemployment in Chicago right now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Obamacare unpopular? I'm using that word.
MR. PAGE: It is not unpopular. I don't know of anybody in Illinois clamoring to undo it. I mean, everybody says they want to get rid of the bad parts and keep the good parts.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to speak to this?
MS. CROWLEY: The national polls show about 60 percent plus would like to see Obamacare fully and completely repealed. That's why you have not just Republicans running on repeal, but you've got a number of Democrats also running on repeal.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. As Buchanan has literally pointed out, they're not going to repeal it, because they need what percentage of the vote?
MR. BUCHANAN: Two thirds of both houses to override.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two thirds of both houses.
MS. CROWLEY: They're going to wait till they have a Republican president in 2016.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't they decide --
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.) I think Clarence is right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Instead of repealing it, why isn't there agreement up there to revise it?
MS. CROWLEY: Well, the Republicans are claiming that if they gain control of the House, it will starve Obamacare --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it can be -- do you think it can be --
MS. CROWLEY: John, they will starve it --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can it be fixed? Can it be fixed?
MS. CROWLEY: -- of funding until they get a Republican president -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can they fix it?
MR. BUCHANAN: No.
MS. CROWLEY: -- to repeal it.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, never will.
MS. CROWLEY: No, it can't be fixed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Happy Halloween. Trick or treat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Bye-bye.