The McLaughlin Group
Host: John McLaughlin
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report;
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune
Taped: Friday, November 2, 2012
Broadcast: Weekend of November 3-4, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-202-347-1400.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Superstorm Sandy.
NEW YORK GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO (D): (From videotape.) As we're going through the reconstruction and the rebuilding, we have to find ways to build this city back stronger and better than ever before.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: New York City -- no electricity, no lights, millions in the dark, fires, subways flooded, ruin rampant, many deaths.
GOV. CUOMO: (From videotape.) People who work in the subway system, the construction industry in this state, have said they've never seen damage like this, period. So it's a new reality for us, and I think it's one that we're going to have to deal with.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Besides New York, New Jersey was also a principal victim of the disaster. Governor Chris Christie reviewed the situation at the shoreline, President Obama at his side.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) We are here for you, and we will not forget. We will follow up to make sure that you get all the help that you need until you've rebuilt.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Later, at a news conference, the governor gave his report.
NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R): (From videotape.) The president of the United States and I have now had six conversations since Sunday. That shows to me a level of caring and concern and interest that I think a leader should be giving to this type of situation.
So I -- today -- in fact, Marie (sp) asked me this when I got in the car after I got off of -- after, you know, I said goodbye to him on Air Force One -- this was as comfortable and relaxing an interaction as I've had with the president since I've known him. And I think it's because we were both doing what we wanted to do, which was to get things done.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Are you surprised at the speed with which the spirit of bipartisanship seemed to have bonded President Obama and Governor Christie? Pat Buchanan.
PAT BUCHANAN: Not at all. Governor Christie is a New Jersey boy. The area he grew up in along that shore was just utterly devastated. The president of the United States comes up and says can we help out. And they acted like two Americans, quite frankly, and whose country is in trouble and the state of New Jersey's in trouble. So it didn't surprise me at all, John.
I will say this. It's probably affected the national election in the sense that the Romney momentum, I think, has temporarily -- certainly was temporarily halted. The whole Benghazi thing has been knocked off the front pages. And the president -- this enabled the president to put himself in the role of president as chief consoler and head of state rather than the campaigner mode, which I don't think is very effective. I think it's a real tossup now, and this interruption has helped the president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Political harmony reigns here between the three of them.
ELEANOR CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cuomo and Christie --
MS. CLIFT: Chris Christie is an emotional guy. He's reacting in the moment. He really cares about his state and his people. He tweeted that the Jersey shore of his childhood was gone. So this is a very wrenching moment for him, as it is for the people who are living through this in New Jersey and New York.
And the president is doing his job. And it's a time when government has been under assault in the political arena, and it gives the president a chance to show that government can have a positive influence in people's lives. Government is working here. These states could not respond fully on their own. They need the help. And so I think this is a moment that I wish we could capture it in a bottle -- (laughs) -- and continue it forward, because it's a good thing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think this fellowship could be short- lived?
MORT ZUCKERMAN: No, I don't think it'll be short-lived at this stage of the game. I think this is the decisive moment for Chris Christie's governorship of New Jersey. I mean, you don't have a tragedy like this and an event like this -- you know, hopefully no more than once. And the president was by his side. And I think, as Pat said and as Eleanor said, you know, this is a bipartisan moment when people are trying to make government work and help out people who are in terrible shape.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How long is it going to last? I mean, the rebuilding.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, the rebuilding is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two years?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It'll last years -- years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will that make this relationship a little bit more, what, sobering?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: You're --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The bon ami might disappear?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: You are assuming, of course, in that question that Obama, President Obama, will be the president as we go forward. If he is, I'm sure it will continue. And if he isn't, I'm sure President Romney, if he is the president, will be doing the same thing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In that connection, what do you think about the announcement of the mayor of New York?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, that was -- I have to say that was a stunning announcement.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did he announce?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: He basically announced -- he went through -- it was very interesting. He had a lot of criticisms of both Governor Romney and President Obama.
And basically he said President Obama was just not really somebody who'd shown the kind of bipartisan efforts that he had hoped for. But in this particular occasion, for a particular reason -- namely, his awareness of and his concern for global warming -- he said I'm going to support President --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He backed -- he gave his backing --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, he did.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in the upcoming election --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: He sure did.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to President Obama, as opposed to Romney.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And surprised an awful lot of people who had talked to him about this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you disappointed?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm not disappointed. He's a grownup and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's a personal friend of yours.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, he is. But it's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you call him up and say, what are you doing?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I called him and asked him what he did for the office building where my people are. That is completely flooded. I mean, we have to start off with the particulars.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I had to get into that with Mort.
CLARENCE PAGE: I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And I'm sorry we have delayed you.
MR. PAGE: Well, I was fascinated by it, John. We want to pin Mort down on this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it was amazing, I thought, that -- I don't know why he even had to get into it at this time. He had plenty on his hands, unless he wants more money from the federal government. That could be it.
MR. PAGE: And I wonder if he wasn't influenced by the superstorm in his thinking about climate change, because it certainly riveted everybody's attention. Up until now, you know --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Remind people; we're talking about the mayor of New York now. Go ahead.
MR. PAGE: Well, that's what I said. He's the mayor of New York; climate change. You know, the issue hadn't even come up in the campaign so far, and all of a sudden, boom, this week we're focused on it.
You know, at the same time, it brought up Mitt Romney's earlier statements about wanting to reorganize FEMA and give it to the states at a time when everybody, especially Governor Christie, was appreciating the centralized FEMA and the reorganized FEMA under the Obama administration.
MS. CLIFT: I'd like to point out that Mayor Bloomberg didn't say it was only on the issue of climate change. He also mentioned reproductive rights and pro-choice. And I think there was another issue as well. So this was a reasoned decision on his part. And he also pointed out that Governor Romney had taken reasonable positions in the past which he had apparently abandoned. So --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is an excellent point you're making. It was also, you know, a rejection of Romney.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, who cares?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who cares about the mayor of New York?
MR. BUCHANAN: The mayor of New York. He's a big deal in New York. Nationally, Chris Christie is far better known nationally. All he's known for --
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- is, you know, cutting off the big drinks and you can't smoke in --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, where's --
MR. PAGE: This improved his image, didn't it?
MS. CLIFT: Chris Christie, in effect --
MR. BUCHANAN: And he's going to take away our guns.
MS. CLIFT: Well, Chris Christie --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- the mayor of New York.
OK. Where's Mitt?
At a subsequent interview, the governor took a question from Fox reporter Steve Doocy.
(Begin videotaped segment.)
STEVE DOOCY (Fox News): Is there any possibility that Governor Romney may go to New Jersey to tour some of the damage with you?
GOV. CHRISTIE: I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested.
(End videotaped segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you make of that, Pat?
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, that's a back hand to Mitt Romney.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: It really was. And that's very tough. And, quite frankly, it's gratuitous. And also that will damage Chris Christie if he runs for president of the United States and he runs in the Republican primaries. And he's backhanded Mitt Romney, who's in the race of his life, and, in effect, endorsed the president of the United States. That is not good for Chris Christie. That was a wiseacre comment.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it might be good for Chris Christie if Obama wins.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he wants to run for -- if he wants to run for president, that's not good.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What appointment does Christie want, if Obama wins, to his Cabinet?
MR. BUCHANAN: He would like to be governor of New Jersey --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: To his Cabinet.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- a second time. Who wants to be in the Cabinet, John, when --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- you can be governor of New Jersey?
MS. CLIFT: Well, you're --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suppose he's secretary of state.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The other thing -- bear in mind, though --
MR. BUCHANAN: Hillary might be gone after this Benghazi thing, if that's what you're getting into.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't want to --
MR. PAGE: I doubt it. I doubt it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Secretary of defense.
MR. BUCHANAN: Come on. Are you kidding?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The chatter is also that Governor Christie is a little bit peeved at, shall we say, the selection process for the vice presidential nominee on the Republican ticket.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MS. CLIFT: Well, he said he didn't want it. Did he want to be offered it? But, look, I think you're --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm not going to argue that point.
MS. CLIFT: First of all, you ridicule the Bloomberg endorsement. Christie, in effect, endorsed the president. And you put those together and add --
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I like Christie.
MS. CLIFT: -- excuse me -- and add in Colin Powell.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's move on.
MS. CLIFT: This has been a very good week --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat.
MS. CLIFT: -- for people who are still sitting on the fence, to look and see what opinion leaders are thinking.
MR. PAGE: Moderates.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's see if I can shoehorn this --
MS. CLIFT: Moderates, right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in. Climate change -- that's right, Pat -- climate change.
GOV. CUOMO: (From videotape.) Part of learning from this is the recognition that climate change is a reality. Extreme weather is a reality. It is a reality that we are vulnerable.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Does Hurricane Sandy alter your opinion, Pat, or do you still contend, stubbornly, and some would say stupidly, that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by avaricious pseudo-scientists looking for big-ticket government grants?
MR. BUCHANAN: The --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that your position?
MR. BUCHANAN: The idea that these characters know exactly what caused this storm and that it was climate change is a farce. What they are doing is riding their old hobby horse, bringing it out every time there's a natural disaster.
MR. PAGE: That's not what climate change is.
MR. BUCHANAN: The point is --
MR. PAGE: Pat, you're confusing climate with weather, which is a common mistake.
MR. BUCHANAN: But why would they --
MR. PAGE: But nobody --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him in.
MR. BUCHANAN: But why would they leap on it right now?
MR. PAGE: Even climatologists --
MR. BUCHANAN: Opportunism.
MR. PAGE: Because it, number one, hasn't had any attention at all. And this -- and they expect -- climatologists expect more storms like this. We already have had two in how many days?
MR. BUCHANAN: You think climate change is responsible for the storm? And do you have any evidence of it?
MS. CLIFT: Climate change is warming the oceans, and the warming oceans create more powerful hurricanes. Insurance companies are all looking at this phenomenon. They understand it's real. And we had three devastating weather events last year. And even the members of Congress have created a little slush fund, knowing that there's going to be more demands for disaster aid relief.
And I would like to also praise the president's FEMA administrator, Craig Fugate, who used to work for Governor Bush in Florida --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't you --
MS. CLIFT: -- Governor Crist in Florida.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't you praise --
MS. CLIFT: And these are disaster professionals.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't you and the rest of this panel praise Andrew?
MR. BUCHANAN: Hurricane Andrew?
MS. CLIFT: Andrew Cuomo? I do. I commend him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cuomo --
MS. CLIFT: I commend him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was he letter-perfect?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MS. CLIFT: He was letter-perfect.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was he letter-perfect?
MS. CLIFT: And --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did he choose to defend the probability, if that's what it is, or the certitude of climate change?
MR. BUCHANAN: He wants to run for president.
MS. CLIFT: Because --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because he's lived through it.
MR. BUCHANAN: He wants to run --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's lived through it.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, he wants to run for president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got 20 feet of water in his --
MS. CLIFT: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- underground metro.
MS. CLIFT: As he put it, these 100-year storms are coming every two years. It's the new normal. And he understands, as a governor of a state that's vulnerable, how you're going to handle the infrastructure that you rebuild. What are the expectations?
MR. BUCHANAN: It's a question about who gets power --
MS. CLIFT: And it's good for him politically --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- who gets resources --
MS. CLIFT: -- because it's good policy.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- all that. That's what it's all about, John -- the transfer of power to federal governments, from federal governments to global institutions.
MR. PAGE: That's what the --
MR. BUCHANAN: Every time --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It violates Romney's rule.
MR. PAGE: That's what the anti side is all about.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, every time you get a disaster, they say, hey, we can solve it, but we'll need more money and more power.
MR. PAGE: That's not --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to know more about Andrew.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, well, look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What could the Democratic Party do for Andrew?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I don't -- Andrew is going to be a real player --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Andrew eligible to become president of the United States?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, without question.
MS. CLIFT: Of course he is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's got a bigger platform than he ever had before?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: He certainly has now. He's going to have a bigger platform if he becomes president, needless to say. And I think, if you remember --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he would challenge --
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- the tradition in that family, he's very interested.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he would challenge Obama?
MR. BUCHANAN: The question is Hillary, John.
MR. PAGE: It's too late for him to run for president now.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MR. PAGE: But --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he can wait four years.
MR. PAGE: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is another advantage to getting Obama
in, that it's a four-year stretch as opposed to Romney --
MR. BUCHANAN: Then you get Hillary.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- which would run eight years, and that would further delay Andrew.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right?
MR. PAGE: Of course.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are they all calculating this?
MR. PAGE: Are you just figuring -- are you figuring Andrew versus Christie? I knew that was coming.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: John --
MR. PAGE: How about throwing Rahm Emanuel in there, too, while we're at it? (Laughs.) I mean, you've got a whole bunch of governors and mayors.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- Chicago except you and Emanuel?
Issue Two: The Home Stretch.
American presidential races are decided not by the popular vote, or even by who wins a majority of states, but by who wins a majority of electoral college votes within those states. It takes 270 to win. The votes are apportioned by population, and the rules are winner take all. Whoever wins more or most popular votes in a given state wins all of that state's electoral votes.
Question: How many states are in play that can go either way? Clarence Page.
MR. PAGE: Depending on how you count it, somewhere between eight and a dozen that are sitting on the fence. And the funny thing is, the polling has been varied, but Romney's been stronger overall while Obama's been strong in the states that count. So that's where you get the possibility that there could be one winner of the most votes while the other gets the most electoral votes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, do you want to list the battleground states?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the key ones are for this. Look, Romney's got about 191 electoral votes locked up. He's got to win Florida with 29. He's got to win Virginia and North Carolina, which have about 24, 25 between them. He's got to win Ohio with 18 or find a substitute, maybe Pennsylvania, if -- that's a reach. And then he's got to add Colorado or something like Iowa and New Hampshire.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.) I don't know why --
MR. BUCHANAN: But he's got to have Virginia.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know why you've got North Carolina on that list. He's already got North Carolina.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he's got to -- he's got to have it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's got it.
MR. BUCHANAN: If he loses North Carolina --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He even flew over it the other day.
MR. BUCHANAN: If he loses North Carolina, he loses the election. That's how important it is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, the tossups, as far as he's concerned, are New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada. And if you put that through the grinder, you come out with one state, Ohio. Is that true?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, but you got Nevada in there, which is very much leaning toward Obama, and Wisconsin is still very much leaning toward Obama. Ohio -- my view, as I said two weeks ago -- is indispensable.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where do you read that Nevada is leaning towards Obama?
MR. BUCHANAN: I haven't seen a poll showing Romney leading out there yet.
MS. CLIFT: That's right. As strong as --
MR. BUCHANAN: It's one-third Hispanic and it's heavily unionized.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've got friends of mine who live out there, and they don't think that way at all.
MR. PAGE: They've got to get off their block --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, they must --
MR. BUCHANAN: They live in the wrong neighborhood. (Laughs.)
MR. PAGE: -- because the Hispanic population has been -- Pat's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here's the point I want to make. The polls today are regarded as microscopically perfect. You and I know, years ago, say 10 years ago, when you were still doing this show, because of your tenacity of purpose --
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and because of my leniency --
MR. BUCHANAN: Thirty years ago.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Twenty years ago, 30 years ago, polls were regarded as approximations. These polls today have assumed a status which is ridiculous. Why? Because there's money where polls are made.
MR. BUCHANAN: But John, when you get --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's money to be made.
MR. BUCHANAN: When you get --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think -- I don't want to --
MR. PAGE: Because they're right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I hate to see this thing come to an end.
MR. BUCHANAN: One or two can be --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Polls are not that precise.
MR. PAGE: Of course they are, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- that way.
MR. PAGE: John, if they weren't that precise, why would politicians spend so much money on them? They do work.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They are false idols. That's what they are.
MR. PAGE: No, they're not. They work.
MS. CLIFT: The media is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're worshiping at the false idols.
MS. CLIFT: The media --
MR. PAGE: You wouldn't stake your career on --
MS. CLIFT: The media are more obsessed with polling this time than ever before. It is dizzying. But they do show a very close race, but they show President Obama with a small but apparently durable lead in the states that matter. And predictions of people who follow this every day see this as a race that is leaning towards the president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I don't necessarily agree with that. I mean, I think what people will argue is that it is very close. And it's tied in a number of states, OK?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And the undecided are not big numbers, 4 to 7 percent. But the general view is that if they have held out this long, the chances are they're not going to vote for the president. That's one argument. So a lot of people look at that in a positive sense. But who knows? I mean, this is a whole -- we're going to find out.
MR. BUCHANAN: The problem --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, wait a minute. Let Mort finish. Mort seems pretty smart on this. Let's see if he's as good on this.
What's the unemployment rate, by the way?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The unemployment rate -- there are two unemployment rates. U-3 is 7.9 percent. The more valuable one, the more relevant one, is U-6, and that's 14.7 percent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you regard this as a good news or bad news? The White House is saying there are 170,000 new jobs. Sectors are all up; retail, et cetera. Romney says it's sad news that unemployment is up, you know, by one tenth of a point.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's higher than it was when Obama took office.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's not saying -- unemployment has increased.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's higher than it was when Obama took office.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Unemployment has dramatically increased.
MS. CLIFT: He took office in the midst of a collapse.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: We have 5 million fewer jobs today than we had when Obama took office. So it has not been a great improvement in the economy.
We have had a very, very weak --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it any kind of an indicator of which way the economy is going?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it healing or not healing?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It is healing a little --
MR. PAGE: It's going up.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- but way, way too slowly. And it has not healed enough. When you think of the fact that we spent four and a half trillion dollars in deficit money and we've had the most limited, weak recovery ever in the history of the --
MS. CLIFT: Can we get in another word here?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- will increase in its improvement ratio?
MR. BUCHANAN: It's on a slow --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, it's not improving in its --
MR. BUCHANAN: It's not on that path.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, it's not on that path.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this an aberration?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, it's not an aberration.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've questioned the Bureau of Labor Statistics on this before.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I have questioned them, because they don't accurately measure a lot of things and they don't tell you a lot of things, like the labor force --
MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Wait a minute -- like the labor force participation rate, which has dropped to relatively low numbers, which makes the unemployment numbers look better.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How does Jack Welch look in hindsight now when he criticized last month's report?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Last month -- in the last month's report, the only reason that number got better was that 582,000 people left the calculation that you all looked at, which was seven-point -- at that point 7.8 percent, and went to work on a part-time basis. So the part-time jobs got a little bit better. But we did not -- they took these people out of the denominator. So that's why the number --
MS. CLIFT: Is the naysayers' --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's why those numbers -- those numbers are really not all that great.
MS. CLIFT: Is the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Eleanor in.
MS. CLIFT: Is the naysayers' trio finished for the moment here?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: We're not naysayers. We're being accurate.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, I would say that's the naysayers. If you look at the economy overall, you see consumer confidence is the highest it's been in four or five years. We have steady but slow growth. Independent economists say we're on track to create 12 million jobs over the next four years, whoever is president. Mitt Romney's trying to take credit for that. Frankly, when you start challenging the numbers, that means you're losing, whether you're challenging poll numbers or --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are these people --
MS. CLIFT: -- Labor Department numbers.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are these gurus -- are these gurus you're talking about all Democrats?
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And do they realize we're three days from the election?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: We've had -- typically we've had --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me -- John -- hold it.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- a three-plus percent rate of growth. We had a 1.3 percent growth in the last quarter, with all of this stimulus money and loose monetary policy. And that is the weakest recovery we've ever seen.
MR. PAGE: So we should have had more stimulus.
MS. CLIFT: So we need to cut -- more tax cuts for the rich? That's the answer that Paul Romney (sic) was proposing.
MR. PAGE: The answer is not to take more money out of the economy. Romney has not sufficiently demonstrated --
MS. CLIFT: That's right.
MR. PAGE: -- to many of us that he's got a better solution than what Obama is already offering.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, Obama has not had --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.)
MR. BUCHANAN: -- a single month --
MS. CLIFT: Let Clarence finish.
MR. PAGE: That's what counts on election day.
MR. BUCHANAN: Obama has not had a single month of unemployment that is better than the day he took office --
MS. CLIFT: He took office --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- in four years.
MS. CLIFT: -- in the midst of a collapse.
MR. PAGE: It's come up, though.
MR. BUCHANAN: Four years he hasn't had a better month than when he took office.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear what he said?
MR. PAGE: Yeah, he's spinning it around, but the economy has improved.
MR. BUCHANAN: Spinning it? It's the truth.
MR. PAGE: The economy has not gotten worse, Pat. It's getting better.
MR. BUCHANAN: It went all the way down and got back to where he inherited it.
MR. PAGE: You had it right the first time. It's improving too slowly. That's right.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: What has gotten worse is we've added four and a half trillion dollars to the debt of this country. It took us --
MR. PAGE: Yeah, because we're putting it out into the economy.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It took us 230 --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Excuse me a second. It took us 230 years to run up that deficit.
MR. PAGE: Yeah, but --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: We did it in four years. We are going to have to pay it back, and we're going to have to pay the interest on that.
MR. PAGE: I'm sure --
MS. CLIFT: Could I --
MR. PAGE: I'm sure you don't want to take more money out of the economy now, do you?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't want --
MR. PAGE: Because that's what you're advocating.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I didn't want to spend the money unwisely, which is exactly what this administration --
MS. CLIFT: Could I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you talking about the public debt --
MS. CLIFT: I don't remember --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- of $16 trillion?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right. It's $16 trillion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that what you're talking -- and he started out with $12 trillion?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Eleven trillion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleven trillion.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Eleven and a half trillion dollars.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he built it up to $16 (trillion)?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MS. CLIFT: I don't remember the naysayers complaining when George Bush paid for two wars without coughing up any tax money to support it --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Then you didn't follow the naysayers.
MS. CLIFT: -- and the Medicare prescription drug program, which I think is great.
MR. BUCHANAN: George Bush was rejected --
MS. CLIFT: But he didn't pay for it.
MR. BUCHANAN: The country rejected the Republican Party when they did it.
MS. CLIFT: He was a two-term president.
MR. BUCHANAN: And they should reject Obama when he does worse.
MR. PAGE: A little late. That's all --
MS. CLIFT: A little late.
MR. PAGE: `04 would have been a better year.
MS. CLIFT: The politicians are --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you agree with that? `04 would have been a better year?
MR. PAGE: To have dumped Bush.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: To have dumped Bush.
MR. PAGE: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh.
MR. PAGE: That's just me, of course.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Obama on Late Night.
Two and a half weeks ago, on October 18, President Obama sat down with late-night "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart. Mr. Stewart questioned the president about the events at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, when four Americans were killed, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
(Begin videotaped segment.)
JON STEWART: Other people were --
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Jon, the truth is that information comes in. Folks put it out. Throughout the process, people say it's still incomplete. What I was always clear about was we're going to do an investigation and figure out exactly what happened. And --
MR. STEWART: Is part of the investigation helping the communication between these divisions of security, not just what happened in Benghazi, but what happened within? Because I don't know; I would say even you would admit it was not the optimal response, at least to the American people, as far as us all being on the same page.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, here's what I'll say.
MR. STEWART: Yeah.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: If four Americans get killed, it's not optimal.
MR. STEWART: Right.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: And we're going to fix it.
MR. STEWART: Right.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: And --
MR. STEWART: All of it.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: All of it. And what happens during the course of a presidency is that the government is a big operation. At any given time, something screws up. And you make sure that you find out what's broken and you fix it.
(End videotaped segment.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Did Jon Stewart unintentionally do President Obama a disservice by first using the word "optimal" in his question, which Obama, President Obama, then alluded to? So he said what he said.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, President Obama should not have used the word "optimal" in this situation. But, John, this thing is really a mounting scandal. It's going to be very, very big after this election. There are three basic problems -- the utter lack of security, with all these pleas coming in from Ambassador Stevens from Benghazi -- we need help; we've got terrorists here. And it wasn't provided.
Secondly, there was a couple of firefights that night. There was no protest at all.
Third, the Obama administration came out and put Susan Rice out, really crippling her credibility, to say, you know, this was a protest over a video. Week after week after week there's been, I think, an enormous amount of incompetence and mendacity involved. And this is going to be a very, very big thing, especially if the president wins.
MR. PAGE: Well, we did have military on the way, but they didn't get there in time, unfortunately.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. That's been disputed hotly on the ongoing Fox coverage.
MR. PAGE: I'm only quoting the CIA report, John. I mean, all this has been disputed because it's become like the so-called global- warming hoax or like Obama's a Muslim Kenyan.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, the point is --
MR. PAGE: The right is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- you're saying the --
MR. PAGE: -- going crazy with this now, and so facts have begun to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- military were en route. But the military were there waiting to go in --
MR. PAGE: That's a different military, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- is the way it's being presented.
MR. PAGE: It was also two locations, not one, in Benghazi. There were troops coming in from the U.S. as well as from Europe. I mean, there were a lot of things going on at once, which is why we need an investigation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What was the hour span? Was it about six or seven hours that Obama -- when he -- he appeared in the Rose Garden. He gave the address.
MR. PAGE: That's the next day.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he's taken hits for that because of the lack of emphasis on it. And then he immediately flew to Las Vegas.
MR. PAGE: He's taking hits. I mean, he --
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. PAGE: -- he was lied about. They say he didn't even mention terror, and he did --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He said --
MR. PAGE: -- that day, and in later speeches in Colorado.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- acts of terror -- acts of terror, but --
MR. PAGE: Yeah, right. I mean, they're going to want to rewrite the whole thing. That's why I say it's like --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was almost incidental.
MR. PAGE: It's like the birth certificate thing. No matter what you provide, they want more. And I mean, the fact is this is not a Watergate scandal. I'm sorry.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's very big.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. This is an opportunistic attempt by the Republicans to create a scandal and a cover-up where one does not exist.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MS. CLIFT: And Pat and all his allies on the right have been going crazy about this.
MR. BUCHANAN: This --
MS. CLIFT: The White House, the State Department, the CIA have answered every one of the criticisms.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: The demands for security were for the embassy in Tripoli, not for Benghazi. Chris Stevens, the ambassador, probably should not have gone to Benghazi on his own without more security, but he was a gutsy guy and he apparently made that decision on his own. Defense teams were -- commando teams were scrambled to try to get in there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: It was not --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. CLIFT: -- an unrealistic --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to say anything about --
MR. BUCHANAN: Let me correct -- let me correct --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to say anything about Hillary Clinton taking responsibility?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, I'll say it about Hillary.
MS. CLIFT: I'll say it about Hillary, not you. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her speak. Let her speak, quickly.
MS. CLIFT: Hillary Clinton is stepping down as secretary of state after these four years, but she's going to stay until her successor is confirmed. And she'll answer all of these questions.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. CLIFT: And this will not --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has she already spoken to it?
MR. BUCHANAN: No.
MS. CLIFT: Yes, she has.
MR. BUCHANAN: She said I take responsibility.
MS. CLIFT: And this will not -- this will not --
MR. BUCHANAN: Let me talk, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, quickly, quickly.
MS. CLIFT: This will not tarnish her reputation.
MR. BUCHANAN: Let me talk, Eleanor.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Pat in. Let Pat in.
MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor, Eleanor --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's only got about 10 seconds.
MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- you've not told the exact truth. Hillary Clinton got a memorandum, a secret cable, the 16th of August from Ambassador Stevens saying al-Qaida's all over the place; we need more security. He sent it straight to the State Department; may have gone to the White House as well.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction. Next Tuesday the nation goes to the polls. Which ticket will win -- Barack Obama and Joe Biden or Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan? Or will it be a tie, 269 electoral votes to 269 electoral votes? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the heart says Romney-Ryan and the head says too close to call, but I'm going to predict that Romney-Ryan will win all 11 states of the old Confederacy. It'll bring them close. He will then barely win Ohio and Colorado, and he'll win with just over 270 electoral votes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Well, my heart and head are together; no conflict there.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: Obama-Biden will win handily with over 300 electoral votes. There'll be a Democratic Senate. Elizabeth Warren will win in Massachusetts, and Democrats will have 54 seats in the Senate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I have to say, I think this country really needs a change in leadership, given what's happened in the last four years. But I do believe that Obama will be reelected. It'll be a very, very close race. And I think Ohio will make the difference. Obviously if Romney carries Ohio, he'll win --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- the election.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly, Clarence.
MR. PAGE: It's going to be close. I'll give Obama the edge because he's running stronger in the most important states. I'm going to say 280.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Romney-Ryan will win with 281 electoral votes.
(C) 2012 Federal News Service