The McLaughlin Group

Host: John McLaughlin

Panel: Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist; Eleanor Clift, Newsweek; Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report; Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune

Taped: Friday, August 17, 2012
Broadcast: Weekend of August 18-19, 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Federal News Service, LLC, 1120 G Street NW, Suite 990, Washington, DC 20005-3801 USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, LLC. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Transcripts Database or any other FNS product, please email HYPERLINK "" or call 1-202-347-1400.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: P.R. Blitz.

REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (R-WI, Republican vice presidential candidate): (From videotape.) I am deeply honored and excited to join you as your running mate. I'm excited for what lies ahead. I'm thrilled to be a part of America's comeback team. And together, we will unite America and get this done.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is Mitt Romney's choice to be his vice presidential running mate. Ryan is 42 years old. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998, 14 years ago, when he was 28 years of age. He is now concluding seven consecutive terms in the House.
Ryan is the chairman of the House Budget Committee, where he originated a monumental budget analysis of U.S. federal spending that caused such a national uproar two years ago.

Ryan's family has deep Wisconsin roots, fifth generation. He's the youngest of four, with two brothers, one sister. His father was a lawyer who died when Chairman Ryan was 16 years old.

Chairman Ryan graduated from Miami University in Ohio, 1992, 20 years ago, with a bachelor's degree in economics and political science. After college, Ryan worked for Jack Kemp, whom he calls his mentor. Jack Kemp was a quarterback football star for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Buffalo Bills. Kemp also joined Bob Dole as his vice presidential running mate in 1996. Mr. Kemp championed tax cuts to bolster growth. He passed away in 2009.
Paul Ryan is a Roman Catholic. He is married to Janna Little and has three children. Mrs. Ryan is a lawyer. Their home is in Wisconsin, where Ryan is a sportsman. He likes to hunt. He likes to fish. He likes to snowmobile.
When Congress is in session, Congressman Ryan stays in Washington and often sleeps in his Capitol Hill office when his work piles up, or with his in-laws in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside D.C.

Question: How much of a boost does Ryan give to the GOP ticket? Pat Buchanan.

PAT BUCHANAN: He gave it a real boost, John. I think Mitt Romney was in a slough of despond, if you will. He was dropping in the polls. He brings youth. He brings energy. He brings excitement. He energizes the conservative base of the party. He's a likable young fellow. He's 30 years younger, you've got to realize, than Joe Biden, the vice president for the incumbent president of the United States.

And what he brings is, of course, a tremendous knowledge of the budget and all the rest of it. But there is a down side here, John. Jack Kemp, who was his mentor of sorts, was a supply sider. If we just cut taxes, cut taxes, it'll cure anything; cut taxes.

This guy is a fiscal hawk. He's into deep root-canal economics, and he's got a budget plan out there which, on Medicare, was going to make it optional. Initially I think they were going to do away with it. So the Democrats are going to be able to go through this Ryan budget, cherry-pick it, find all the things where people are going to be cut and hurt, and they'll be pumping that out all fall long.

But overall, I think you've got to give Mitt Romney -- he rolled the dice, and I think he did the right thing.


ELEANOR CLIFT: The only boost Paul Ryan gives Mitt Romney is that it ensures a unified convention. He's not going to get a revolt from the right at his convention.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MS. CLIFT: I think, overall, there's a potential for him being a major drag on this ticket. He is charming. He's an articulate spokesman. He is also the intellectual leader of the House Republicans, probably one of the most disliked bodies in this country, in a Congress that has 10 percent popularity, largely because of the leadership of the House Republicans. And he is their inspirational, intellectual leader.

He will be tagged with wanting to end Medicare as we know it. He's going to have to defend his budget. And any separation that Mitt Romney hoped to give between himself and the really draconian ideas advanced in the Ryan budget, he's not going to be able to get away with.

The Democrats have been linking Romney with Ryan for months, and now they've made it official by putting him on the ticket. It's the greatest gift to the Democrats that they could have imagined.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, the New York Post's John Podhoretz wrote an insightful piece on Ryan and he wrote an insightful piece on what he is able to do, and that is to unite the right, because he is a blend of fiscal conservatives because the conservatives are split -- they're somewhat split, both as far as language is concerned, but they're really split because there's a fiscal conservative who wants to see deficits under control, and then there is the small-government conservative who wants to see the government share of GDP cut down to size. And Podhoretz' point is that Ryan has both. And because he has both, he's particularly valuable in drawing on this potential votership that he represents. You follow me?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you agree with that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, I think that's a fair analysis. And I think, for that reason, implicit in what we were talking about before, he will unite the party and, in fact, energize the party, especially the base of the party.

But I don't think that's the only thing he's done. He actually has also energized Mitt Romney. I think he's just a different kind of candidate since he's selected Paul Ryan. So I think this is another contribution. I do not think he has easily widened his political base of support with this selection.

On the other hand, the Medicare thing, I think, is a little bit of a false thing, because he said it will not affect anybody in Medicare above the age of 55. So he's limited what you might say that damages.

But the other thing is, I can't imagine that Romney isn't going to go, in his convention speech, the acceptance, speech, that he's going to really outline his basic economic and fiscal policies. We'll find out if he has a policy that he can put forward that, in a sense, incorporates enough of what his running mate is doing and what his own ideas.

Where he was very clear several times since the nomination and selection of his vice presidential partner, that the fiscal program and the economic program is going to be Romney's, not Paul Ryan's.

CLARENCE PAGE: Well, Mort, don't underestimate --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you sense from anything -- do you sense from anything you've seen in Romney that he is not a different candidate, but he is experiencing some elation? And he planned this out for a whole week, and they had met privately --

MR. PAGE: (Inaudible) -- than that, actually.


MR. PAGE: He'd been vetting people for a while, but he --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But he vetted Ryan, but he didn't say --

MR. PAGE: He and Ryan had very early rapport that kept going, and he finally decided --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's given him some buoyancy, not only inside, but --

MR. PAGE: Yeah. And, you know, deja vu all over again. Four years ago we were saying the same thing about Sarah Palin, weren't we, when they first unveiled her. We were saying McCain seemed to have more of a lift in his step and all that.

But I would not underestimate, Mort, the dangers to the Republicans of that Medicare issue, because I was saying the same thing when George W. Bush suggested changing Social Security, just offered people the option of going to the stock market, and it wouldn't affect anybody who was over the age of 55. Well, it turned out the more that Bush tried to sell it around the country, the more people hated it. And they were the seniors. You know, us geezers still, we don't want you touching --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have --

MR. PAGE: -- Social Security or Medicare. And I think that's very dangerous, because a lot of people out there who are still deciding -- and the undecideds are down to about 5 percent now --


MR. PAGE: -- they're going to hear Paul Ryan, and they're going to hear right away he wants to tamper with Medicare. And that's --

MS. CLIFT: Ryan is the architect --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We will hear what Romney says.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Eleanor in.

MS. CLIFT: Ryan is the architect of the Bush Social Security --

MR. PAGE: That's right.

MS. CLIFT: -- privatization scheme. He also wants to eliminate all taxes on capital gains, wants to increase defense spending. And this is all going to be accomplished with these unspecified cuts. And where are those cuts --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I think he --

MS. CLIFT: -- going to come from?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think he's muting some of those --

MS. CLIFT: You know, this isn't a buddy movie.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, this is why you've got to get --

MS. CLIFT: This isn't a buddy movie. I'm glad that Mitt Romney --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have any doubt --

MS. CLIFT: I'm glad they get along, but that's it. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in the erudition, the fiscal, F-I-S-C-A-L, erudition of this man, Ryan?

MR. BUCHANAN: He's erudite, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Of course he's erudite. He knows the whole --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He knows it inside out.

MS. CLIFT: He's a zealot with a philosophy based on Ayn Rand.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, no, no.

MS. CLIFT: I mean, that's who his model is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's wrong with Ayn Rand?

MS. CLIFT: Greed is good. Selfishness is good.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're talking about the fact that she's an atheist -- she was an atheist?

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. PAGE: No, we're talking about her fiscal policy.

MS. CLIFT: I'm talking about her --

MR. PAGE: She didn't believe in government except for having a military.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the fact that he's intrigued by what she -- he's intrigued by all of the scholarship, and he forms his own conclusions.


MS. CLIFT: You're not going to sell it to the 99 percent.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The fact is that our fiscal deficits and the deficits that we have accumulated represent a mortal threat to the American economy over the next several years.

MR. PAGE: Well, we're not going to solve it in an election year.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I didn't say we're going to solve it. I'm just saying it's a serious issue.

MR. PAGE: Oh, yeah. Everybody agrees with that.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He was very serious about it. He knew it inside out. He was as extraordinarily informed as anybody I've seen in the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you satisfied with the way he has handled the Medicare potential problem?

MR. BUCHANAN: This is the problem, John.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, it's not been solved yet.


MR. ZUCKERMAN: And I think that Romney's going to deal with it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not solved, but the way he wants to handle it.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got to -- John --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He says it doesn't apply to seniors today.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's correct.

MR. BUCHANAN: But, John, that is dead.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's protecting it for the younger generation.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right. That's --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, that is dead.


MR. BUCHANAN: That is dead. Here's what Romney's got to do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's dead? You mean, the issue is dead?

MR. BUCHANAN: The optional thing and all the rest of it. Romney is saying Ryan had his ideas. They are not my ideas. I'm not cutting Medicare one iota. You know why he's saying it? For the reasons we're hearing right here, is once you get into the reality of cutting this budget from 25 percent, you antagonize --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Even though --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- and alienate people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Even though --

MR. BUCHANAN: That's why we're not going to solve it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It does not affect seniors today.

MR. BUCHANAN: We're not going to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's preserving it for the younger generation.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's dead.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Otherwise it disappears under its own --

MR. BUCHANAN: They abandoned it. What you're talking about is dead.

MR. PAGE: How do you get there? How do you get there, though? We all agree that Medicare is in trouble.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's pretty good on the way he gets there.

MR. PAGE: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do we need an overhaul of the tax system in this country?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, we do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do we need it, from top to bottom? From top to bottom?

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute.

MR. PAGE: Ryan was asked about when do you bring the budget into balance --

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. PAGE: -- and he couldn't answer the question.

MR. BUCHANAN: Twenty-eight years.

MS. CLIFT: Twenty-eight years, right.

MR. PAGE: Twenty-eight years. You know, anybody who wants to look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is wrong with that? What's wrong with that?

MS. CLIFT: It's a fraud. (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: It's a fraud. More than 10 years --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's going to do it gradually, without a convulsion.

MR. PAGE: Do you believe he should do it in 28 years?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I think he's a man of prudence. I think he's planned it out, and I think he knows taxation.

MR. PAGE: It doesn't pass the laugh test.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's not the man, though, John. What you understand is Romney has abandoned his entire Medicare scheme, and he ought to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The ticket --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- get it out of there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's look at the --

MR. BUCHANAN: They ought to focus on the economy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The ticket is Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Then you've got Romney and you have --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Paul Ryan.

MR. PAGE: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, which ticket do you think you want to go with for four more years? Which ticket?

MR. BUCHANAN: If you want to maintain Medicare --

MR. PAGE: If you're a swing voter, which way do you go? That's the question.


MR. BUCHANAN: The point is, Ryan --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Four years more. Who do you want to go with?

MS. CLIFT: They can't --

MR. BUCHANAN: I would go with Romney. But the issue is the economy, and they're --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want four more years --

MR. BUCHANAN: They're off that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want four more years of --

MR. BUCHANAN: They're on the budget, John, which is the wrong issue for --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want --

MR. PAGE: Four years of gridlock, you mean.

MS. CLIFT: They can't -- they can't run away -- they can't run away from Ryan's Medicare-slashing budget.

MR. BUCHANAN: They are running away from it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They are not running --

MS. CLIFT: The House Republicans voted twice on it.

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't care what the House Republicans did.

MS. CLIFT: Every Democrat --

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: Every Democrat is going to run against --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: This is why --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see --

MS. CLIFT: He can't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see --

MS. CLIFT: He put him on the ticket.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MS. CLIFT: He cannot run away from it.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, no, no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see, in the upcoming election, the Senate going Republican? The numbers are all there.

Issue Two: Biden's Blunder?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: (From videotape.) Romney wants to let the -- he said in the first hundred days he's going to let the big banks once again write their own rules -- unchain Wall Street. They're going to put y'all back in chains.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's what Vice President Joe Biden told an audience in Danville, Virginia on Tuesday, a predominantly African- American audience that winced when they heard offense at Biden's words was taken.
Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama was a former co-chair of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign four years ago. Representative Davis switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in May, three months ago. Davis says Vice President Biden's remarks are an insult to African-Americans. In fact, he says that the words propagated, quote-unquote, "racial viciousness."

FORMER REPRESENTATIVE ARTUR DAVIS (R-AL): (From videotape.) I know what Joe Biden was doing yesterday. And every black person in that room knew who the "y'all" was. They knew what the chains were about. They knew what the metaphor was.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On Wednesday, one day later, the vice president tried to smooth out the contretemps.

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: (From videotape.) The last time these guys unshackled the economy, to use their term, they put the middle class in shackles.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The vice president added this.

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: (From videotape.) I know I am sometimes criticizing (sic) for saying exactly what I mean. (Laughter.) It's not going to -- it's not going to change.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When President Obama was asked about the matter, he said that what was important was the content of his vice president's message, not the words used to describe the content.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) What Joe Biden was talking about, again, is an example of a substantive argument, a substantive issue that the American people should be concerned about. And his phrasing is a distraction from what is at stake.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the president saved Biden, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: To a degree he did. Let me say this. I don't think Joe Biden's a malicious guy. I think that was a stupid gaffe.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MR. BUCHANAN: But it was a big gaffe. If a Republican had made that gaffe, John, he would have been in real, real trouble.

But I will say this. Biden has made a number of these gaffes, and he is starting to approach the point where he -- approach the point where he could be a real liability to the ticket, especially when you've got a bright young guy, Paul Ryan, with him. And I would take a hard look -- people are going to be watching that vice presidential debate. And there is a possibility that Biden could be a real problem by later in the fall.

MS. CLIFT: Well, people --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There are five presidents who have not completed their term and the vice president had to become president. Can Joe Biden become -- could he serve as president of the United States and inspire and hold the people in the light of everything we know about Joe Biden?

MS. CLIFT: Without hesitation.

MR. BUCHANAN: Questionable.

MS. CLIFT: He is -- without hesitation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean by --

MS. CLIFT: He was --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's hear this, and let's hear you.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right.

MS. CLIFT: -- the chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate for a good long while. He has served very well under this president. He's been involved closely in the military, in drawing down in Afghanistan and Iran (sic/means Iraq). He has -- there has been a partnership there.
And what you see as a liability, I think people look at him and think he is the closest thing to an average guy who's been in the White House probably since George W. Bush.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right, let me talk.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you don't think his words are cringe-worthy.

MS. CLIFT: I thought --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are they cringe-worthy?

MS. CLIFT: -- his words, taken in the context of an opposition ticket that is running on unshackling Wall Street -- and that is -- Mitt Romney's used that term many times -- the difference between shackles and chains is sort of a distinction --

MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John --

MS. CLIFT: -- without a difference.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, let's talk --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did the --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. I get to finish.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let's get back to Biden, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I want to finish. It's not a new low in political rhetoric.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MS. CLIFT: It's another excessive rant. And we're going to see a lot more of this --



MS. CLIFT: -- on all sides in this debate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it also the opinion of the OWS militants --

MS. CLIFT: Occupy Wall Street?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Occupy Wall Street militants?

MR. PAGE: Who cares, John?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who cares? What do you mean, who cares?

MR. PAGE: Yeah. Why is that important?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't they also --

MR. PAGE: How many votes do they carry?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do they want to unshackle us from Wall Street?

MS. CLIFT: They unfortunately are not much of a factor. They're not very visible.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, does he bring any of --

MS. CLIFT: So I don't think -- do they want to unshackle Wall Street? I don't think so, no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you think it's just Joe being --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- just Joe being Joe.

MR. PAGE: Joe being Joe.


MS. CLIFT: This is Joe being Joe, running against a ticket that doesn't like the Dodd-Frank bill, doesn't like regulations.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you don't have any problem with him, any problem with stepping in --

MS. CLIFT: No, I have no -- no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to be president of the United States and preserving a degree of --

MS. CLIFT: I hope it's not -- it's not for another four-plus years.

MR. BUCHANAN: Jiminy Christmas.

MS. CLIFT: But I have no problem.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John, can we get in here, please?



MS. CLIFT: Poor Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- the thing about Joe Biden is this. Initially, look, he was a good asset to the president four years ago. But people are looking at him now and they're looking at one gaffe after another after another.

Let me tell you this. If he ran for president independently now, people would not move to Joe Biden because they would be concerned whether he could really go four years and be in control and in control of the issues.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MR. BUCHANAN: I mean, that's what this has raised.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Joe Biden should be replaced?

MR. BUCHANAN: No. It's too late to replace him. But I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is it too late to replace him?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it could be a dramatic, disastrous thing for the ticket.

MS. CLIFT: It's not going to happen.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hold it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that depend on who takes his place?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, if you put Hillary in there and threw him out, I think people would say they've thrown this -- it would be a huge trauma.


MR. BUCHANAN: I think they've got to ride through it. I think they feel their best bet --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would it improve the ticket if he were off the ticket and, say, Hillary were in there?


MR. BUCHANAN: If he dropped off voluntarily, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It would improve the ticket?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, in political terms, it would improve the ticket dramatically if Hillary were on the ticket.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Could he save the presidency if he's now in the process of losing it? He's got --

MS. CLIFT: He's not in the process of losing it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Ryan. You don't think so?

MS. CLIFT: No. And polls show --

MR. BUCHANAN: He's a liability.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it's --

MS. CLIFT: -- that Hillary on the ticket makes no difference.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think Romney --

MS. CLIFT: That's been tested.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think Romney and what's his name --

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, what's his name. Good point. (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: I hope you'll give me a moment to say something --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead. Go ahead.

MR. PAGE: -- before this whole thing is over.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly, quickly.

MR. PAGE: One thing you're all missing is nobody apologized for this. Why are we calling it a gaffe? You know, everybody stood behind Biden and his statement here. He had nothing to be embarrassed about. You put up Artur Davis, who couldn't even carry his own district, couldn't carry the black votes --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tell me about that.

MR. PAGE: -- in his own district.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What happened there?

MR. PAGE: Well, he's the Zell Miller of this year's Republican convention. He's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's Zell Miller?

MR. PAGE: I mean, I like Artur Davis, but he's --

MR. BUCHANAN: Former governor.

MR. PAGE: He was another turncoat Democrat who felt sour grapes toward his own party, so he goes to the Republican convention and bad- mouths his own party's candidate. But the fact is, John, Joe Biden was speaking his own mind here. He's done this before. It's not going to make any difference.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, suppose Joe said -- suppose Joe gets out there and he says, look, he says, I put my foot in my mouth, and I really am going to resign because I want to free the president --

MR. PAGE: He's not sorry.

MS. CLIFT: He's not --

MR. PAGE: No, he said just the opposite.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know, but he changes his mind.

MR. PAGE: You're calling it a gaffe.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- revising your opinion?

MR. PAGE: Pat's calling it a gaffe, who's never voted for a Democrat in his life.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I'm trying to figure out --

MR. PAGE: The fact is, this --

MR. BUCHANAN: Do you think he wishes he said it?


MR. PAGE: This is a tempest in a teapot.

MR. BUCHANAN: Do you think he's glad he said it?

MR. PAGE: Joe has said a lot of things he was sorry for, but he's not sorry for this one.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's why he's got a problem.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What if Joe Biden voluntarily --

MS. CLIFT: Democrats are happy with Joe Biden.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- steps aside?

MR. PAGE: No, we're all --

MR. BUCHANAN: We're all happy with Joe Biden. (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: -- trying to make a tempest out of a teapot.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The exit question is, does Joe Biden's shackles metaphor predominantly work to the advantage or disadvantage of the Democratic ticket?

MR. BUCHANAN: He's made himself a liability.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It works to the disadvantage of the ticket. Yes or no?

MS. CLIFT: Democrats say this is Joe. And they also --

MR. BUCHANAN: I know they do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What else can they say?

MS. CLIFT: They probably like what he says, because they do look at the opposition ticket --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What else can they say?

MR. BUCHANAN: They like what he said. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: -- as turning back the clock.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They really say we want Joe, even though it's just Joe being Joe.

MS. CLIFT: They love Joe.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Of course it's a distraction from the Democrats, but it's not one that's overwhelming. You know, it's one of those things that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it's keep Joe time?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah. He's definitely going to stay. I don't think there's any chance he's going to leave.

MR. PAGE: Barack Obama almost never fires anybody or lets anybody out. You know, I mean, the fact is he believes in loyalty. I said it last year; I'll say it now. There's no chance that Joe is not going to be on the ticket. And the fact of the matter is that the people complaining --


MR. PAGE: -- now are people who ain't going to vote for Obama anyway.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Barack Obama lacks ego?

MR. PAGE: Lacks ego?


MR. PAGE: Should I do long-distance psychoanalysis?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think that Barack Obama thinks that he has the answers?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Wait a minute, Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Well, it's irrelevant on this --

MS. CLIFT: I hope so. He's president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, no. He has the answers.

MR. PAGE: -- (inaudible) -- but that's a separate issue.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's going to keep Joe, and that's the right decision.

Issue Three: Deportation Deferred.

LESLYE OSEGUEDA (undocumented immigrant): (From videotape.) My heart is pounding. I'm so happy; like, I didn't think this was going to happen whatsoever. It's an amazing thing. Everything I do, I want to do it for America and for the U.S.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Leslye Osegueda is just one of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who are thrilled about a new Barack Obama program. Long lines have been forming across the country to register for the program. It protects immigrants from deportation. They were brought here technically illegally as children. This regularizing program also helps them obtain Social Security cards, work permits, driver's licenses.

There are four main requirements. Applicants must prove that they are, one, under the age of 31; two, in the U.S. before the age of 16; three, currently in school or graduated or serving in the military; and four, without a criminal record. Up to 1.7 million people could be affected by the program. For the official listing of requirements, the Department of Homeland Security website is the place to go.

Question: Does this program serve the public interest more than the status quo serves the public interest? Clarence Page.

MR. PAGE: It does, because we've got a lot of great resources with these kids here. I know several of them myself. They're living in this legal limbo, but they're remarkably productive. They can really add to the economy. And their lives need stability.

The political implications of this, though, are interesting, because word is out in the community that if Mitt Romney wins, deportation deferral goes away. And that has given big incentive for people, especially in the Hispanic community, to want to go out and vote for Obama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many are we talking about?

MR. PAGE: The actual numbers? Well, like Pat said earlier, we're not really sure about the numbers of illegals in the country because they're illegal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The number I have here is --

(Cross talk.)

MR. PAGE: (Inaudible) -- go from 10 (million) to 20 million.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- they're as high as 2 million, and lines in individual processing centers have thousands of applicants per site.

MR. PAGE: Yes, they do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In Los Angeles, one line was estimated at 10,000.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right, there are 12 million illegals in the country, 11 (million) or 12 (million). And 1.7 (million), 1.8 (million) of these are these young people. But the problem here is Barack Obama has simply imposed his view on the country. The Congress rejected the DREAM Act. It didn't want it. So he said I'm giving basically amnesty to some illegal aliens but not others.

MR. PAGE: Temporary amnesty.

MR. BUCHANAN: It is an unconstitutional decision, John. But who --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is that unconstitutional?

MR. BUCHANAN: The question is --


MR. BUCHANAN: Because he doesn't have the power. Congress has the power to grant amnesty. And he didn't declare it an amnesty. He's just -- what he's doing is bringing them in.

But let me say this. This -- John, what this is about is the character of the country. Who's going to decide the composition of the American commonwealth? Is it the people outside, who want to walk in, or is it the American people themselves?

MS. CLIFT: It's people who have been here since they were children and who are working and earning livings and being forced to live in the shadows. These are very fine young people, and we should be proud to have them.

MR. BUCHANAN: There are fine people all over the world.

MS. CLIFT: And Mitt Romney is specifically not saying that he would overturn this order of the president's. And, by the way, it's not an executive order. It's just a direction of how you're going to use your prosecutorial authority, that they're not going to go after prosecuting these young people. So I think Romney understands that if you want to be a majority party in this country, you do not discriminate against a portion of the population --


MS. CLIFT: -- that is so clearly deserving.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- I've got a question for you. Is he trying to buy the youth vote? For youth voters, he proposes a college student debt forgiveness program.

We've talked about that on air. For females of childbearing age, it's free contraception; for food-stamp recipients, more benefits; for the uninsured, free health care via subsidies; for illegal aliens under 30, legalization. So he's trying to buy the vote three months away from the election.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I mean, I'm really shocked, you know, that a president is using whatever powers he has to try and influence the voting. This particular one, he has himself said on two previous occasions, one of which I attended, he said I can't do this, he said, because it's against the law. The Congress passes the law. That's against the law that the Congress has passed and it's against the Constitution. But now he's done it. Why? We all know why.

MR. PAGE: Temporarily. He's only doing it for two years.

MS. CLIFT: And nobody's challenging it.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We all know why he's doing it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, quickly.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's the natural thing.

MS. CLIFT: We know he's doing it because it's the right thing to do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Because of what we discussed here with Joe Biden and Ryan, I think the vice presidential debate is going to be one of the most watched, and very closely watched. And again, let me reiterate, I think if Biden makes one or two more gaffes, there's going to be real apprehension in the Democratic Party about how he performs and what this is going to mean for the ticket.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's going to be Biden and --

MR. BUCHANAN: Paul Ryan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Paul Ryan.

MS. CLIFT: Well, if I'm confident --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fascinating.

MS. CLIFT: If I'm confident about anything, it's how Joe Biden will be able to perform. And the stand-in in the debate preparation will be Chris Van Hollen, who's the ranking Budget, who's tangled with Paul Ryan quite a bit. So he'll be well trained.

MR. BUCHANAN: Maybe they could put Van Hollen in --

MS. CLIFT: So no anxiety among Democrats.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- as a substitute.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see any of those tangles, by the way? Did you see any of them on television?

MS. CLIFT: Of the two -- sure.


MS. CLIFT: But they're both --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who won the tangle?

MS. CLIFT: They're both polite and articulate gentlemen. And I say that of Ryan and of Van Hollen. But my real prediction is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which one is more likable?

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: We're running out of time, John.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We're running out of time.

MS. CLIFT: Who you want to have a drink with?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I don't know. There's some --

MS. CLIFT: I mean, I'll go with the Democrat. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are either of them supercilious?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think so?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Certainly not Ryan.

MS. CLIFT: Well --


MR. ZUCKERMAN: Mitt Romney is going to make it absolutely clear in his acceptance speech where he comes out on Medicare and all of his fiscal policies.


MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's going to make Ryan's plan irrelevant.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got three seconds.

MR. PAGE: The Medicare thing turns into a lead weight for the Republican ticket.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Out of time. Bye-bye.