The McLaughlin Group Host: John McLaughlin Panel: Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist; Eleanor Clift, Newsweek; Jeff Mason, Reuters; Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report Taped: Friday, April 13, 2012 Broadcast: Weekend of April 14-15, 2012
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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Santorum Sayonara.
FORMER SENATOR RICK SANTORUM (R-PA, former Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) We made a decision to get into this race at our kitchen table, against all the odds. And we made a decision over the weekend that, while this presidential race for us is over for me and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Primary rival, former Governor Mitt Romney, responded to the Santorum news.
FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY (R, Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) This has been a good day for me. (Applause.) Senator Santorum has decided not to proceed with his campaign. And I had the chance to speak with him this morning. We exchanged our thoughts about going forward. And we both have a great deal of interest in seeing the country taken in a very different path. He will continue to have a major role in the Republican Party.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why is Santorum exiting the race now instead of slugging it out right in his own home state of Pennsylvania and its primary? Pat Buchanan.
PAT BUCHANAN: That's exactly the reason, John. Let's assume he won Pennsylvania. It would have no meaning at all since it's his home state. And if he lost Pennsylvania, it would be a humiliation and a defeat, and people would say that guy can't win his home state, and that would damage him in the future.
He emerges from this primary run pretty good, John. I think he's not Mr. Conservative, but he is Mr. Social Conservative. And what he ought to do now, get himself a primetime speech at that convention, do what Governor Romney asks him to do. He's the only one of these four folks who has a chance in 2016 if the Republicans lose in 2012. And I think he ought to expand his own sort of personal base, if you will, to set himself up for another run and, frankly, be available for whatever Governor Romney or President Romney asks him to do. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
ELEANOR CLIFT: I think the way that Santorum conducted him in this race guarantees he's not going to be on the short list for vice president. He's not going to be in a Romney candidate -- cabinet. There's a lot of bad blood, I think, on both sides.
And I think what Santorum did -- he's getting out now because he ran out of money -- but what he did was deepen the gender divide that Romney has to try to make up, and he also deepened the split within the Republican Party between the so-called establishment and the pitchfork conservatives, who Pat's with.
And so I don't think he's done his party any favors. And if Romney loses, he'll be the first one to say I told you so, and he'll be running. But he'll have lots of competition in 2016. I think this is the end of Santorum's presidential ambitions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, do you want to object to that characterization of you and your tribe?
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: No. It's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pitchfork conservatives. MR. BUCHANAN: Well, they're old now, but they still carry the pitchforks, John.
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) That's right.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jeff, welcome.
JEFF MASON: Thank you.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have any thoughts on the Santorum situation?
MR. MASON: Yeah, two things. I agree with what Eleanor said. And I think that the Obama campaign is probably upset that he left as well, because they were delighted to see the arguing going on between Santorum with Romney. All of the fireworks between those two candidates was very good for Obama.
And picking up on what you said, Pat, I think another reason why he left is because he was probably going to lose his home state. And that would have been a real bad thing after he's had some momentum and really established himself in the last few months.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day. Is that what he can take solace in?
MORT ZUCKERMAN: Well, that's his only hope at this stage of the game. The real risk, as was just suggested, after he lost Pennsylvania, when he ran for the Senate for the third time, by 18 points -- so he had a real problem in Pennsylvania then -- he could have -- it would have been the end of his political career if he'd lost Pennsylvania. So I think he had no chance to get the nomination, so I think he made the right political choice. And as was said, he also ran out of money.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will conservatives now flock to Newt Gingrich, Patrick?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, they won't. But I will say that I think the conservatives are realistic, as Mort and I were talking earlier. Look, they're going to have to realize that either they move behind Mitt Romney and move enthusiastically en masse behind him or they're going to win up with a second term for Barack Obama.
But, John, this race is a lot closer than a lot of folks are saying.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, the distaff side.
An 18-point margin. That's the lead President Obama enjoys over Governor Romney in swing states with women voters. So says a recent poll. But the poll was taken before a Democratic consultant said this on CNN.
HILARY ROSEN (Democratic consultant): (From videotape.
) What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues, and when I listen to my wife, that's what I'm hearing. Guess what. His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and how do we worry -- and why we worry about their future.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This provoked Ann Romney, the governor's wife, to take to Twitter and tweet, quote, "I made a choice to stay at home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work," unquote.
Rosen then responded, not on CNN, but this tweet. Quote: "When I said Ann Romney never worked, I meant she never had to care for her kids and earn a paycheck like most American women," unquote.
First Lady Michelle Obama also took to Twitter and tweeted, quote, "Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected," unquote.
Question: Was Hilary Rosen's attack on Ann Romney for not working part of the Democratic game plan to make Ann Romney seem out of touch with ordinary voters? Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: If anything, it was part of the Republican game plan. This -- Ann Romney is one of the most appealing people in politics today. She is not somebody that Democrats are going to pick on as a target. And I think the president was right when he said spouses ought to be off-limits anyway.
What Hilary Rosen was saying is -- she reignited a long-simmering debate that's been called the mommy wars between stay-at-home moms and women who work. And stay-at-home moms often feel disrespected. The point she was trying to make is that Ann Romney hasn't had a traditional job outside of the home where she's had to juggle work and family, and so can she really relate to the problems of everyday working women in the marketplace today?
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. CLIFT: Those were ill-chosen words. And the Republicans jumped on them with full force -- MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute.
MS. CLIFT: -- excuse me -- as well they should. And -- but the gender gap is still there, and the gender gap is frankly based on a lot of Republican policies that even Ann Romney can't undo.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jeff, do you want to add to that --
MR. MASON: Yeah. I would say the loud --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- or subtract?
MR. MASON: The loud noises you heard in the background were alarm bells going off at the Obama campaign and at the White House. I mean, that's just exactly the wrong message that they want to be giving, especially at a time when Obama's doing very well with women. He's polling very well. Romney's not polling very well. So the last thing that they want is to have a gift that's handed on a silver platter to the Romney campaign, and that's what this was.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did she do it?
MR. MASON: Why did she do it? I have a feeling she misspoke.
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MR. MASON: I'm sure she regretted it --
MR. BUCHANAN: No, she didn't.
MR. MASON: -- the very second she said it.
MS. CLIFT: She left out --
MR. BUCHANAN: She did not misspeak.
MS. CLIFT: -- the key phrase.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it was a test?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, it's not a test.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was a test.
MR. BUCHANAN: She is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was a test to see whether they can get away --
MS. CLIFT: No. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- with this kind of criticism --
MS. CLIFT: No, no.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- through somebody else other than themselves.
MR. BUCHANAN: It was a horrendous gaffe, but it came out of -- Hilary Rosen is a militant, I think, feminist. And there's an attitude among feminists that women who stay home and raise kids are not at the same level. Now, let me tell you why it hurts. I was raised, John, by a mom who stayed at home. She raised nine kids. She's a chauffeur. She's a laundress. She runs a restaurant for all these kids, does all these things. She's a nurse.
And all over America, Democrat as well as Republican women must have said, you know, I'm raising all these kids and I've never worked a day in my life? What are you talking about? This was an -- this thing was an emotional hit. And President Obama and the Democrats recognized it and moved instantly.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: But there is a part of the Democratic campaign that they want to make Romney appear sort of not the ordinary American, not understand the problems of ordinary America, and this is another version of it, OK? And I think it -- she did misspeak, but I think this was part of an overall attempt to try and make Romney seem isolated. He's too wealthy. He's never blah, blah, blah.
MS. CLIFT: Well, it fits into that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Democrats want to have hard-hitting attacks which they can immediately disavow, and the attacks nevertheless become lasting in people's memory. Do you follow me?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Even though it's been disavowed.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that what they were testing here with her?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I don't think so.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In other words, Rosen was --
MR. BUCHANAN: No.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rosen is too smart to have fallen for that.
MR. MASON: And they have lots of other things that they can attack without going against --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The way to get hard-hitting attacks in there is precisely the way she did it.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, she got hard in the attacks -- it was a real attack --
MR. BUCHANAN: It's what she believes, John.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- against what she said and against the Democrats, because Ann Romney is now going to be a much more sympathetic figure when she goes around and campaigns for Mitt Romney. She is a sympathetic figure, by the way. They have five wonderful kids. She raised them. And it is -- now she's got a platform from which she can speak.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Michelle --
MS. CLIFT: I must say --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Michelle has equivalently denied -- distanced themselves from it by what she said. MR. ZUCKERMAN: Because --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But if you parse Michelle's words, she didn't really succeed in doing that.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, no. Look, it's out there. You know, this is not going to go away just because --
MS. CLIFT: There's a longstanding tension between women who are home and women who are in the workplace. And a lot of women in the workplace feel they're disrespected if they have the choice to stay home and don't. So this touched a number of nerves at a different level. And I must say, I haven't heard the phrase militant feminist for quite a long time.
MR. BUCHANAN: Listen, Hilary Rosen is a feminist.
MS. CLIFT: She -- of course she is.
MR. BUCHANAN: This is what she believes.
MS. CLIFT: But I suspect --
MR. BUCHANAN: And what you're saying is exactly right.
MS. CLIFT: I suspect Ann Romney is a feminist too.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should it be off limits to attack candidates' spouses?
MR. BUCHANAN: Look --
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should it be off limits?
MR. BUCHANAN: Politically, if you're not idiotic, you don't do something like that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember (a man by ?) the name of Jackson?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah. Reverend Jesse Jackson?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, no -- the president, President Jackson.
MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, listen --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember how his wife was attacked?
MR. BUCHANAN: She died before she got to the White House. She was called a bigamist. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly. Rachel was her name. And it was a brutal attack. And I'll tell you, Andrew Jackson was looking for the people that did it.
MR. MASON: It's also -- it doesn't make sense, because both of these spouses are very popular.
MS. CLIFT: That's right.
MR. MASON: There's no reason to use them --
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MASON: -- as a kicking bag or post --
MR. BUCHANAN: But Ann Romney --
MR. MASON: -- because they're both really popular.
MS. CLIFT: This is a verbal gaffe and nothing --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much of a blow is this --
MR. BUCHANAN: This is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to Obama in his race for president?
MR. BUCHANAN: This is a very serious blow to the Democratic Party, because it pushes them out -- excuse me -- to the feminist left. But I'll tell you this. Mort is right. Ann Romney is an enormous asset to Mitt Romney. She's an even larger one now that they've focused on. Here's a woman who's had multiple sclerosis, who's had breast cancer and who's raised these five kids, and some left winger comes out and says she never worked a day in her life.
MS. CLIFT: This was a verbal gaffe. It's not going to close the gender gap. The gender gap is a lot of -- about a lot of policy issues --
MR. BUCHANAN: I can see it closing from here.
MS. CLIFT: -- and 100 laws passed by Republican legislatures around the country.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's closing, Eleanor. It's closing.
MS. CLIFT: Women are smart enough --
MR. BUCHANAN: Eat your heart out. (Laughs.) MS. CLIFT: Women are smart enough to understand and see faux outrage.
MR. BUCHANAN: This is not faux outrage.
MS. CLIFT: This is faux outrage, because Hilary Rosen --
MR. MASON: (Inaudible.)
MS. CLIFT: -- did not mean to insult anybody. She was speaking shorthand. She made a mistake.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was this blunder --
MS. CLIFT: Absolutely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- a colossal blunder?
MR. BUCHANAN: This is an eight or nine on a level of 10, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is it?
MS. CLIFT: Oh, I'd say it's a four. It'll be over with in a couple of weeks.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A four.
MR. MASON: Five, six.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five to six?
MR. MASON: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which is it?
MR. MASON: Six.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Seven.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I would say it's an eight.
Issue Two: Summit Down South.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) There are no senior or junior partners in the Americas. We're simply partners.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No rank. That's how President Obama sees the U.S. relationship with the 33 nations of this hemisphere that are convening this weekend at the Summit of the Americas. The president flew to Cartagena, the historic and unforgettable walled city on Colombia's Caribbean coast. Question: Is there a domestic political angle to President Obama's attendance at the Cartagena summit? Will it help him move Hispanic voters in the United States this fall in the presidential election?
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think the summit will. I do think if he took a trip to Mexico it would help him. But the summit, I think -- John, this is just a meeting of a bunch of fellows who sit down there and talk. It's a publicity meeting. There's not much to it. You've got 33 people there and they sit around and discuss.
The one issue that's a big problem, though, is the drug issue, which is a real problem for those folks down there.
MR. MASON: Look at the first --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Obama's got to shoot that down, right?
MR. MASON: Look at the first stop that Obama made before going to Colombia. It was in Florida. And he told people there, when I'm at this summit, you're the people who I'll be thinking of. That means it's political. That means he wants to reach out to Hispanics. He wants to reach out to Latinos and he wants them to know, even though I'm spending a couple of days outside of the country, you're on my mind.
MS. CLIFT: It's good marketing and it's good politics. And Obama's always looking to up the U.S. export market. And Latin America has actually weathered the global slowdown better than most. They're actually prospering. And the markets over there are very good. And Obama is popular. This is a terrific forum. I don't see any down side.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cuba was excluded, or excluded itself. In any case, it didn't show, because Obama had said beforehand, if Cuba is there, the United States will not be there. What do you think of that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, you know, this has been a longstanding American policy to try and exclude Castro's Cuba from everything that he possibly can. And, by and large --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was there a domestic angle, namely, the very point that he made? He wants Cuban-Americans to vote for him in Florida.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And therefore, he says if Cuba is not there -- if Cuba -- yeah, if Cuba --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: If Cuba is there -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If Cuba is there, then --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- he wouldn't show up.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Now, look, the Cuban-American vote is very important --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cuban-Americans in Florida don't like that, right?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- in Florida, and it is one of the things that has held back the evolution of the U.S.-Cuban relations. This is something that shouldn't be --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, the other superpower attending the 33-nation summit is Brazil. The president of Brazil visited at the White House this week.
BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT DILMA ROUSSEFF: (From videotape, through interpreter.) I would like to thank the president of the United States and also the American people for the very warm, brotherly and friendly hospitality extended to me during this meeting -- to me, and of course to my delegation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's first official visit to the U.S. since assuming the presidency of Brazil 15 months ago. On Monday, she met privately with President Obama for two hours to discuss trade and defense.
Here's a look at Brazil, a superpower and a colossus.
Size: 3.3 million square miles, the largest in South America and the third-largest in this hemisphere after Canada and the U.S.
Borders: Brazil borders all of the South American countries except Chile and Ecuador.
Population: 206 million.
Economy: Brazil's is the seventh-largest of the world's 185 nations. Since 2003, Brazil's macroeconomy has been expanding. And get this: Brazil's biggest trading partner today is China.
Oil: Brazil's Atlantic coastline runs 4,600 miles. The red dots on this map depict Brazil's vast oil acreage offshore. Oil is what President Obama wants to buy, as he made clear.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) Brazil has been an extraordinary leader in biofuels and obviously is also becoming a world player when it comes to oil. The United States is not only a potential large customer to Brazil, but we think that we can cooperate closely on a whole range of energy projects.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the way, Brazilian President Rousseff has a national approval rating of 77 percent in Brazil.
Question: Is Brazil walking a tightrope between its relationship with China and its relationship with the United States? Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: They are. That's right, John. The Brazilians are here. One of the reasons is the United States is pouring all this money out, and what's happening is investment's coming into Brazil and their exports are becoming more and more expensive and their trade balance is bad. They've got their own problems also with the Chinese, who are being pretty tough. But Brazil is not a world superpower, John. It's the greatest power in South America. That's it. Militarily, it's not a great superpower at all.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: China is its number one customer.
MR. BUCHANAN: China's its number one trading partner, John. And the Chinese --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that concern you?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the Chinese are getting -- get all this money from the United States, and they take it and they invest it in buying up all the resources of the world.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Well, to the extent that Brazil ups its oil production -- and anything that diminishes the Middle East is a good thing. But we can't just funnel oil from Brazil. And I think what they're upset about in Brazil is the tightening down of the sanctions on Iran, because they see that disrupting the oil market.
So when these leaders get together, they each come at it from their own perspective. And I think it's a good thing that the president has good relations with this country. It's an emerging power.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I have to say, with all due respect, what's happening with Iran has raised oil prices, which raises the revenues that Brazil gets from selling their oil. MS. CLIFT: That was one of the issues that she raised.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm sure it is.
MS. CLIFT: Right. So --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: She's hoping that they raise prices even more.
MS. CLIFT: I don't know about that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How is Brazil's relationship with Iran?
MR. BUCHANAN: Good.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's a good relationship. I mean, I don't know that it's a close relationship. But any one of these major oil- producing countries, they all get along pretty well because they all --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, they worked with the Turks --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- have the same objectives.
MR. BUCHANAN: Brazil worked with the Turks on a deal to try to get Iran out from under the sanctions about a year and a half --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- or two years ago. And Hillary Clinton came down and slapped them both down.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who are the members of BRIC, B-R-I-C?
MR. BUCHANAN: Brazil, Russia, India, China. And South Africa is also --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the story on BRIC?
MR. BUCHANAN: The BRIC are the emerging powers, developing powers. And you're right. Brazil is number seven. China is number two in the world now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jeff, do you think we've reached a point where we're finally beginning to take this hemisphere -- the United States is beginning to take this hemisphere, namely south of the border, seriously?
MR. MASON: I think that's certainly a message Obama wants to give at this summit. And I also think that Brazil in particular would like to have a closer relationship with the United States. One of the interesting back stories about the president's visit this week was that she didn't get a dinner. It wasn't a state visit. She had lunch. And that was something that apparently the Brazilians were a little upset about. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. MASON: They'd like to have an elevated relationship with the United States.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think they were upset because the Argentinian president visited with -- what's his name -- Hugo, and the Brazilians were pleased about that? But they themselves have not had any contact with Hugo Chavez.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: But he's ill. He's really ill.
MR. BUCHANAN: They want a permanent seat on the Security Council also.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: He's really ill. Chavez is really ill.
MR. BUCHANAN: They want a permanent seat on the Security Council. But so also does Japan and so also does India.
MR. MASON: The United States has been lukewarm about offering support for that.
MR. BUCHANAN: They ought to be.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the way, the president, on his last visit to South America, flew over Argentina. The Argentinians -- where I was last week -- the Argentinians didn't like that at all, just flying over and not visiting Argentina.
MS. CLIFT: They know how the Midwest feels in off-election years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: North Korea's Dud Rocket Launch.
Can you speak to that?
MR. MASON: Yeah, I can. The White House was watching very carefully when that rocket went off last night, and it broke up. And I think the White House is probably pleased about that. Although they did call it a provocative act, they also said on Friday this means there's not going to be a food aid deal with North Korea, which means we're sort of back to the future in terms of waiting and seeing how this relationship and how these talks continue.
MR. BUCHANAN: But the humiliation of the North Koreans, John, and the young new president, who's 28 years old, is going to cause, I think, the North Koreans to do something. And they've prepared, it seems, another nuclear test inside a mountain. It would be the third test of their nuclear device. And the fact that they're humiliated and need something to really redeem their prestige, I think, means we're going to have a nuclear test.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: John, one of the things that's -- this was intended to be an intercontinental rocket. Now, the interesting thing is that North Korea has sold most of the rockets that Iran has that they could use to fire missiles. They're not intercontinental rockets. They're Shahab missiles. They have over 300 of them in Iran, and they've bought virtually all of them from North Korea.
MR. MASON: Well, one of the --
MS. CLIFT: Well, I --
MR. MASON: One of the senior administration officials last night said to me this will probably be -- give some pause to people who are interested in buying military technology. And that's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to back up to President Obama's flying visit to South Korea about two weeks ago. Were you there for that?
MR. MASON: I was not on that trip, no. But I watched it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You watched it. What was his point in going to South Korea?
MR. MASON: Well, that was a nuclear summit. And one of the big things that he has proposed or that he has talked about as president -- in fact, one of the reasons that he was given the Nobel Peace Prize is his work against nuclear proliferation. So that was a summit. It was a follow-up from a Washington summit a couple of years ago.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many nations attended the South -- the South Korean summit?
MR. MASON: I can't tell you how many nations, but there were a bunch, and very big players. And that was basically Obama's chance to say this is what we've done in the last couple of years. He talked about Russia. He had that very interesting gaffe where he --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he visit with the troops while he was there?
MR. MASON: He went up to the --
MR. BUCHANAN: To the DMZ.
MR. MASON: -- to the DMZ.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you been to the DMZ? MR. BUCHANAN: I have not been to the DMZ.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have been to the house that straddles the DMZ line, so that half of it is in North Korea --
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and the other half is in South Korea.
MS. CLIFT: Every president -- every president goes and stares across.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: I've been there with two presidents.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: But I think the White House has suspended the food aid. And I think the hope is that the North Koreans are so humiliated that they might be willing to talk. They're probably going to conduct a nuclear test. They have better luck with those than with the missiles. But you don't know how this young leader is going to respond. He's been humiliated. They invited all the international press in, which is the first time --
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MS. CLIFT: -- they've done that. So everybody was there and saw this thing fall apart.
MR. BUCHANAN: But the --
MS. CLIFT: You almost want to laugh --
MR. MASON: And as a result, they had to admit that it was a failure.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. You almost want to laugh at first --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is --
MR. BUCHANAN: They've got to do something.
MS. CLIFT: -- but that would be the worst reaction.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is the game plan of North Korea?
MS. CLIFT: The game plan of North Korea is to continue basically nuclear blackmailing the rest of the world.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's to shake down the United States, John, for everything they can get out of us by threats and the rest of it. But what they do want is the Americans to leave the peninsula and they want recognition by the United States. And they want to be recognized as an independent power permanently, and they do not want to be united with --
MS. CLIFT: They want to be taken --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It has a big boundary with China.
MS. CLIFT: They want to be taken seriously.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is the expectation -- our expectation of China and China's relationship with North Korea?
MR. BUCHANAN: China's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you speak to that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah. Well, look, China -- we are using China, I have to say, to find some way to contain what North Korea does, because China, like us, feels North Koreans -- the North Korean government is pretty much a wild card.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And so that's something they're very --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It is hard to believe how totally controlled that family has had over North Korea.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Since you're so knowledgeable about North Korea, how much money are we expending to North Korea to meet their food aid?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: This I don't know. I don't know that it's that significant. But it's certainly going to be significant in North Korean terms.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's what I meant.
MS. CLIFT: It's not breaking the bank at home.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.
MS. CLIFT: And frankly, the North Koreans are very dependent on it. But the problem is they siphon a lot of that food aid and they feed the troops. And they've got, what, a million-man army.
MR. MASON: Well, and as a result --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know anything about the new, young -- MS. CLIFT: We don't want to fatten up the troops.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- successor, ruler, in North Korea?
MR. MASON: Well, that's the big question. A lot of people don't know much about him. And this is an example of how --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was he educated overseas?
MR. MASON: I can't tell you that.
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was he educated in Switzerland?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, he wasn't. No, he wasn't. The other son went out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction, yes or no: Rob Portman will be the running mate, vice presidential, with Mitt Romney in the fall. Yes or no?
MR. BUCHANAN: No.
MS. CLIFT: Better than even odds.
MR. MASON: Yes.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is yes.