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 9, 2012
Broadcast: Weekend of November 10-11, 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 or call 1-202-347-1400.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Still Chief.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) Thank you. Thank you so much. (Cheers, applause.) Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward.

Tonight in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up. We have fought our way back. And we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come.
Whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The tally: President Obama, 50 percent -- 58 million votes; Mitt Romney, 48 percent -- 56 million votes. So much for the popular vote. The electoral vote -- 270 are needed to win -- President Obama, 303; Governor Romney, 206. Still unassigned, 29 electoral votes. Florida is conducting its recount.

Question: Was this election a mandate, a landslide, a rout, a squeaker, a marginal win? What was it?

PAT BUCHANAN: It's a significant victory by the president of the United States by more than 2 million votes, John. There's no doubt about that. I don't believe it's a mandate, but the real fire bell --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why isn't it a mandate if it's such a big win?

MR. BUCHANAN: Mandate for what? There is a mandate, I think, to work together. Certainly the entire country wants more of that, and to get these problems solved and the deficit, John.

But the real fire bell in the night on this election is for the Republican Party. There are 100 million folks in this country who are black, brown, Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern. They voted between 70 percent and 90 percent Democratic. And the white vote only went by 18 points to Mitt Romney.

John, of the seven largest states in the country, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, California have gone Democratic in six straight elections. The other two, Ohio and Florida, have swung Democratic in two elections. And in Texas, the white folks in Texas are now a minority in the bastion state of the GOP.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think this was a split verdict?

ELEANOR CLIFT: Not at all. The president won 50.4 percent of the popular vote, which admits him to a club of only -- he becomes the sixth president in history to win two terms with over 50 percent of the vote; a group that includes Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower, I might add.
He won an electoral college landslide. George W. Bush, with a much smaller electoral college win, pronounced that he had a mandate. This president's not going to use that language. It's oh so 20th century, you might add. It's not how he intends to govern.
But beneath the numbers of a reelected president, a Senate that is divided, there was an earthquake. And it was an election that the Republicans should have won in a bad economy, with all that money, and they lost virtually every group. They even lost Cubans in Florida, which used to be a reliable voting bloc.

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

MS. CLIFT: So you have to ask, what does the Republican Party do next? But that's not my top priority, frankly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, don't broad-brush it excessively. The Republicans kept the House. The Democrats kept the Senate. And the president, a Democrat, kept the White House.

MS. CLIFT: Beneath those numbers --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a split verdict.

MS. CLIFT: Beneath those numbers, there was an earthquake, John. And --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The hidden earthquake. Nobody felt it.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, everybody feels it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No Richter -- nothing on the Richter scale, but there was an earthquake. That's what she's saying.

MORT ZUCKERMAN: Well, I don't know that I would describe it as an earthquake. But when you think of the fact that we have 23 million people unemployed and the worst economic history, four years in our history, other than the Depression, and he still carried it through, it seems to me that was -- call it anything else, but I'd call it a landslide under the conditions that he had to run. So I think it was a decisive victory.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was this a ho-hum election?

CLARENCE PAGE: Well, it was -- it was very significant on several counts. First, the exit polling showed that most of the voters did blame the economic problems on Bush. They said that -- and they wanted to give Obama more time to work on it, which is pretty significant, considering expectations were expected just the opposite. And the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember how many people attended his victory speech in 2008 --

MR. PAGE: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in the stadium in Chicago?

MR. PAGE: Sure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two hundred forty thousand.

MR. PAGE: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know how many were there this year?

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

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ten thousand.

MR. PAGE: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you explain that?

MR. PAGE: This one was indoors.

MS. CLIFT: It was indoors, right. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: Next question. No, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the tolerance indoors?

MR. PAGE: John, there's a big --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Come on, now. You know there were a lot of -- what was the percentage of seats that were unoccupied?

MR. PAGE: Can I get back to your mandate question?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there was a big difference there.

MR. PAGE: Very important mandate. Well, so what? It's his last election. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a split verdict. It was a close election.

MR. PAGE: OK, split --



MR. BUCHANAN: Republicans, John --

MR. PAGE: Split verdict --
(Cross talk.)

MR. BUCHANAN: The Republicans lost at every level, John.

MR. PAGE: This was Democratic victories all around.

MR. BUCHANAN: They lost in the House.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you compare this with Obama --

MR. BUCHANAN: They lost the Senate and they lost the White House.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, you --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you compare this with 2008, he won by 365 electoral college votes to McCain's 173. In 2012, it was only 332 electoral votes. That's a drop of 10 percent.

MR. PAGE: But he carried every battleground state but two.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: His popular drop-off was about 8 percent.

MR. PAGE: He won all the battleground states except two. That's significant. And those other two, as Pat mentioned, you're seeing demographic shifts --


MR. PAGE: -- that portend a big message for the Republican Party's future.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're not finished this yet.

OK, Mitt misses his moment.
We had this video last week and we're airing it again. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Republican Governor Chris Christie, whose state of New Jersey was ravaged by the storm, took this question from Fox's 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?
NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R): I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested.
(End videotaped segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, take a look at this photo of whom Governor Christie did tour the damage with -- President Barack Obama. Now, here's Christie on Obama's win over Romney.

GOV. CHRISTIE: (From videotape.) Listen, I'm extraordinarily disappointed. I mean, I put a lot of time and effort into the Mitt Romney campaign.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did Governor Romney, Mort, commit a huge mistake by not going to the storm-ravaged New Jersey coast, joining Governor Christie and President Obama, who were both on the scene? Was it a telling mistake?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It probably was --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because it was all over the news, night after night after night --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- for the week preceding the election.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right. It certainly was a mistake in the way -- in retrospect. But I will tell you, the real mistake that Romney made was the way he handled Chris Christie when he was picking a vice presidential partner for the campaign, and Christie was extremely alienated by however that process was. And that still carried forward.
But having said that, absolutely, Romney had the chance to show up and be a player and be a visual player on all television. And he wasn't there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He wasn't there.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He wasn't there.

MS. CLIFT: He had no reason --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The first question occurred to me when I saw the president there.

MS. CLIFT: He had no --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where's Romney?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MS. CLIFT: He had no --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It could be said that he would be capitalizing on a non-political event.

MS. CLIFT: Exactly.


MS. CLIFT: He had no --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But that's not the point. He's the de facto head of the party --

MS. CLIFT: That is the point.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- is he not?

MS. CLIFT: The head of the party --

MR. BUCHANAN: What are you doing there, they would ask.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The head of the party ought to be there.

MR. PAGE: You remember what happened with --

MS. CLIFT: He had no role, and he wisely stepped aside. He would have been accused of political opportunism.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, so what?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, why --

MS. CLIFT: Well, that would have hurt him more.
(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: Why do you have to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That is the equation you have. But it was evident that he was not there and it was a mistake that he was not there.

MS. CLIFT: Why do you have to diminish --

MR. PAGE: You remember what happened when --

MS. CLIFT: Why do you have to diminish the president's achievement here?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I am not diminishing the achievement.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's not a diminution of the president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm admitting that he won the election. But I'm saying --

MS. CLIFT: He won --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- is what did he --

MS. CLIFT: He didn't win it because of Chris Christie.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did he --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's a diminution of --

MR. PAGE: I think we're hearing the beginning of a Chris Christie campaign here --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, no, no.

MR. PAGE: -- which is legitimate. I mean, Chris Christie, I think, is well suited to be one of the leaders of a party right now that's trying to search for its soul again.

MS. CLIFT: If we're going to talk about --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe Christie doesn't want to wait for eight years. If Romney had won, he might have to wait for eight years. Now he has to wait for four years if he wants to make his move.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, he's going to have to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He's going to have to wait a long time.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right, let me talk --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But let me just say this. Romney did not have, shall we say, an easy contact with the American people. He wasn't that kind of candidate. OK, this was another illustration where he could have had a much better connection, given what was happening.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know the polls were so close that if he had gone to that --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- horrible event --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm in agreement with you.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me get in on this. First, I think it would have been a mistake for him to show up there.

MS. CLIFT: Exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, give me a break.

MR. BUCHANAN: There's nothing he could have done there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me a break.

MR. BUCHANAN: People were going to say, what are you doing, handing out canned food? It would just have been a distraction.

However, let me say this about Christie. There's nothing wrong with what Christie did in embracing the president coming in and helping him in the state. He's a Jersey shore boy. But that gratuitous shot at Romney and the statements he made have damaged him with a lot of folks who understand that he ought to have the president in there. But there's no reason to backhand Mitt Romney --

MS. CLIFT: Well, the --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- who's in a tough race.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think -- do you think it was an accidental back stab?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think the president's intercession in that storm very much sealed his election.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Christie has something in mind for himself for 2016 --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Not in the Republican Party.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and that he doesn't want Romney on the scene?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think he's going to have --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying that about the revered Governor Christie?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Not in the Republican Party.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's going to have a tough time in 2016 --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right. (Laughs.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- in the Republican Party if he runs.

MS. CLIFT: If we're going to --


MS. CLIFT: If we're going to talk about Romney's mistakes, in the primaries, when he got to the right of Rick Perry and every other Republican on immigration --


MS. CLIFT: -- and secondly when he said he was going to defund Planned Parenthood.


MS. CLIFT: That was a gold mine for the Democrats --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.

MS. CLIFT: -- who really got out what's called the new American electorate, a lot of unmarried women. That was a real wakeup call for women.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And he went for --


MR. ZUCKERMAN: Everybody thought he was unstable, that he hadn't real clear conviction.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit poll. Even after the ballots are cast and the tallying is done, there is still one more set of polls that political junkies love, the exit poll. I hope I'm not overburdening you on this, but here are some of the findings from 26,565 male and female voters nationwide, published by USA Today.

Men: Obama, 45 percent; Romney, 52 percent.
Women: Obama, 55 percent. Get a load of this -- Romney, 43 percent.

Question: Women accounted for 53 percent of the electorate. Was Romney's 12 percent deficit among women the decisive factor in his loss?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes. But this is not unusual. The reason -- one of the reasons is, John, there are tens of millions of single women with kids who depend upon government for all the benefits and for their food, for the education, medication and all these things. And these folks generally vote and continue to vote Democratic because they see the Republican Party as a party that's an enemy of the government --


MR. BUCHANAN: -- from which they get benefits. And they
don't pay taxes.


MR. PAGE: These women, by the way, work.

MS. CLIFT: Right. Exactly.

MR. BUCHANAN: Some of them work.


MR. PAGE: You're talking about working women.

MR. BUCHANAN: Some of them work, no doubt about it.

MR. PAGE: Well, a majority of them, actually. And, you know, we always think about welfare moms, but, you know, a lot of divorced moms out there, middle-class moms, are raising their families, working hard. And those -- any kind of support is important. And they want to feel like the government cares about them.


MS. CLIFT: People who have a positive role of government.

\MR. ZUCKERMAN: There is another thing, OK.

MR. PAGE: Yes, I'm married to a woman, yes.


MR. PAGE: And if I don't say that, she's going to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You occupy the save the women chair. That's what this chair is.

MR. PAGE: We just -- thank you.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, middle and a lot of working-class folks really feel that this economy doesn't work for them any longer. And women are particularly critical to that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's get another sample --voters by age.
The millennials, 18 to 29: Obama, 60 percent; Romney, 36 percent.
Why are the millennials still with President Obama? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's a charismatic -- he's a charismatic figure. And most of the millennials, quite frankly, are idealistic, young. Many of them -- voters are in school. They don't pay any taxes. And they get student loans and all these benefits --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did they back you on any of your triple efforts --

MS. CLIFT: They have --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- at becoming president of the United States?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, listen, George Wallace in 1968 won the youth vote. Youth are -- they go to the extremes. So they liked me. (Laughs.)
(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: They're social liberals also. They have tolerant views --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MS. CLIFT: -- about marriage --

MR. BUCHANAN: Left-wing views.

MS. CLIFT: -- and gay people and pot.

MR. BUCHANAN: Left-wing.

MS. CLIFT: Everything.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're known as the hook-up culture.

MS. CLIFT: So they're hooking up with Obama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Look into it.

OK, retirees aged 65 and older: Obama, 44 percent; Romney, 55 percent.

What about that? Do you want to speak to that?

MR. PAGE: As a retirement-age person -- (laughs) -- no, you know, older folks are --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You can't be telling the truth.

MR. PAGE: -- more -- I'm afraid so. I've got my Medicare card, John. But I think that older voters are, of course, more conservative in regards to the social change. I think the whole idea of a guy named Barack Obama, with an African background in his family, being president is new to a lot of people.

MR. BUCHANAN: It explains --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're handling --

MR. PAGE: It's also --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're handling this race question very well.

MR. PAGE: Thank you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get a little bit more race in here.
White Americans -- white Americans: Obama, 40 percent; Romney, 58 percent.

Black Americans: Obama, 93 percent; Romney, 6 percent.
Hispanic Americans: Obama, 69 percent; Romney, 29 percent.
Asian-Americans -- hold on, Pat -- Obama, 74 percent; Romney, 25 percent.

Question: Where did President Obama pick up such exhaustive ethnic support?

MR. PAGE: Most important, I think, is the Hispanic support, because when you consider if Romney had gotten the Hispanic turnout that George W. Bush had eight years earlier, he'd be president-elect right now. That group, as Eleanor said, you know, during the debates and all, you saw one signal after another to the Hispanic community that turned them off. Meanwhile, Barack Obama signs an executive order that really instated a temporary version of the DREAM Act --


MR. PAGE: -- which helped to make up for the fact that he hasn't pushed for comprehensive immigration reform.

MR. BUCHANAN: Mitt Romney got the same share of the white vote that Ronald Reagan did, and Ronald Reagan won a landslide. What's happened was the white vote in those days was 88 percent, and it's now down to 72 percent --

MR. PAGE: That's right.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- and falling. You've got to get higher and higher shares of it, impossible shares of it, for the Republicans. And that is the demographic disaster --

MR. PAGE: Well, it seems that the Republicans --

MS. CLIFT: Well, I don't think it's --

MR. PAGE: -- have got to reach out to non-whites. That's not a disaster.

MS. CLIFT: Right. Yeah.

MR. PAGE: You know, but they've really got to do it.

MR. BUCHANAN: Black folks have voted 90 or 95 percent Democratic since Barry Goldwater.

MR. PAGE: Yeah, since Barry Goldwater. See, Pat, you get the picture?

MR. BUCHANAN: Fifty years. (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: You've got to -- well, it's taken that long for the Republicans to turn around and be welcoming to black voters.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, why did black folks vote nine to one against Hillary Clinton in Mississippi?


MR. PAGE: In Mississippi, Hillary Clinton -- if it was Barack Obama?

MS. CLIFT: They supported her --


MS. CLIFT: -- overwhelmingly initially.

MR. PAGE: Remember the old days --


MR. PAGE: -- when black folks supported Hillary two to one over Obama? Do you remember that, early in the campaign?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, that -- after Iowa, that went right out the window.

MS. CLIFT: Pat --

MR. PAGE: Not just because of race. Otherwise they'd be getting -- how soon I forget -- the pizza man. How soon I forget. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Herman Cain.

MR. PAGE: Herman Cain.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He got 1.6 million fewer African-American votes than he got in `08. Why is that?

MR. PAGE: That's right. That's right -- because there has been a little bit of disappointment; I'd say about that much.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think they're going to move further --

MR. BUCHANAN: Turnout is smaller, John.

MR. PAGE: I mean, that's about 1 percent, about 2 percent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did they want him to do that he didn't do?

MR. PAGE: Well, he hasn't done anything specifically targeting the black community. But I think that's because the administration has been slow to pitch it that way, because, you know, "Obamacare" and right down the line disproportionately help low-income folks, including black folks.

MR. BUCHANAN: Turnout was down, John.

MS. CLIFT: But they --

MR. BUCHANAN: Turnout of all groups was down. I mean, Romney -- this election was minus 10 million or something from the last election. That explains -- I mean, he got 93 percent; last time 95.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think we're getting more out of this issue than was there? No, of course not.

Issue Two: Common Ground?

HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH): (From videotape.) Mr. President, this is your moment. We're ready to be led -- not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans. Let's challenge ourselves to find the common ground that has eluded us.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) I'm open to compromise. I'm open to new ideas. I'm committed to solving our fiscal challenges. But I refuse to accept any approach that isn't balanced.

I'm not going to ask students and seniors and middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people like me, making over $250,000, aren't asked to pay a dime more in taxes. I'm not going to do that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Gridlock is the new big task facing Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress -- gridlock over the so-called fiscal cliff. What's the fiscal or, better put, financial cliff? Think of it as a high, steep rock, a ledge that the U.S. is teetering on and will plunge over if no action is taken on certain financial matters.

What are those? One, the Bush-era tax cuts. In 2001 and 2003, Congress under President George W. Bush lowered everyone's taxes. But it was only temporary, like 11 years temporary. Less than two months from now, on midnight, December 31, taxes go back up. The average household will pay more in taxes each year, $2,000 to $3,500 more.
Two, sequestration. What's that? New big budget cuts, $110 billion in cuts in 2013 alone. They go into effect on January 2 and will affect the defense budget and the domestic budget. Layoffs may ensue. The Congressional Budget Office, the CBO, says unemployment could climb up over 9 percent, pushing the U.S. back into recession.
Why did this happen? An automatic sequestration, or permanent set-aside, of $1.2 trillion was passed by Congress in order to force Congress to compromise and figure out how to cut the budget itself. But a congressional supercommittee of House and Senate members failed to reach a deal last year. Now the clock has run out, and the budget will be cut automatically.
In reaction to this situation and other factors, one day after President Obama was reelected, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 313 points.

Question: The two-day stock market sell-off following President Obama's reelection is a 434-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, wiping out some $50 billion in investors' equity. Why are the markets negative on Obama's reelection?

MS. CLIFT: They're not negative on his reelection. They're worried that the Congress is not going to be able to come together with the White House to solve the fiscal cliff.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which is occasioned by the reelection of President Obama.

MS. CLIFT: No, it isn't. It's --


MS. CLIFT: The markets would have gone down regardless.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't agree with that at all.

MS. CLIFT: You're not going to lay that off on Obama.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear what Mort said about that?
Would the markets have gone down anyway?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely not. There is real concern over Obama's leadership of the economy. And there's good reason for that, given what's happened. But the fiscal -- this fiscal cliff, as they say, is essentially a suicide pact intended to force the Congress to deal with it. It's not a rational way of getting the deficit under control.
And the question is, will Obama and the Republicans in the House be able to reach an agreement? There's a lot of doubt whether, in fact, they'll do it. They're going to all make the right rhetoric. They're sounding a lot better.

MR. BUCHANAN: What the Republicans --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We'll see what happens. There's no trust between them. That's a big, big problem.

MR. BUCHANAN: What the Republicans will do, John -- I think they're going to fight to hold the 35 percent. But they are going to do what Mitt Romney recommended, I think cap deductions or exemptions and things like that. But they'd better get a deal, because this -- the taxes --

MS. CLIFT: Well, the president --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get out. Let's get out.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- (that hit ?) the country are unbelievable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want a judgment on this before we leave, and I want you to expand -- that's according to Time.

Exit question: Will there be a grand compromise between Obama and the Republicans to avoid the fiscal cliff before Christmas? Yes or no.

MR. BUCHANAN: Before the new year, yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before the new year.

MS. CLIFT: Grand compromise -- (inaudible). And the president will not cave --



MS. CLIFT: -- on getting the rich to pay more.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, there will be.

MR. PAGE: They may take it right over the cliff for a day, but they're going to get it before the cliff sets in.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is it's too close to call. Actually, yes, they will.

Issue Three: The Referenda Scene, Otherwise Known as the Happy Stoners.

American voters passed a number of ballot initiatives this past election day. These include --

Item: Pot prevails. Two states, Colorado and Washington, voted to legalize the sale and possession of marijuana for recreational use. That's recreational use, not just medicinal. A similar measure in Oregon failed to pass.
Item: More marriage. That's same-sex marriage. Gays can now get married in Maine, Washington State, and -- get this -- Maryland.

Item: Gambling. Casinos got the OK in Maryland and Rhode Island. Oregon voted no.
Item: Death penalty. California could have repealed it but did not do so.

Question: Are Colorado and Washington now on a collision course with the federal government? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: I don't think so. I don't think the federal government is going to aggressively go after people who are possessing small amounts of marijuana, and I think they're going to defer to the states.

I mean, the marijuana laws are changing in this country, and the federal government is not going to make a cause celebre out of criminalizing that law.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you were --

MS. CLIFT: That law is going to shrivel up and die.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you were a first female president of the United States, Eleanor Clift --

MS. CLIFT: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- would you legalize --

MS. CLIFT: I could warm to that. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- would you work for legalized marijuana for the nation.

MS. CLIFT: You know, I think it's something that's going to happen. Is it a major priority? No. And I think probably individual states need to decide that for themselves, because you would have revolutions probably in some of the southern states, the more conservative states, if that were forced upon them by the federal government. They would view that like the government stormtroopers coming in.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, is marijuana definitely not an escalator drug? Do you know what I mean by that, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's an introductory drug. It's an introduction into the drug culture.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: An escalator means you're going up regardless, once you get on it.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I mean, look, certainly some people, I'm sure, have tried marijuana and then stopped there. But there's no doubt about it. Almost every person that's a druggie or something like that first began smoking marijuana.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that true? Is that true?

MR. BUCHANAN: They don't start with LSD.

MR. PAGE: Yeah. Also --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.)

MR. PAGE: Also most heroin dealers began by drinking milk. (Laughter.) I mean, the fact is, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that true?

MR. PAGE: Absolutely. Tens of millions of people in this country have smoked marijuana sometime in their life, including our president. And I think -- and he came into office indicating he was going to go easy on any kind of prosecutions of medicinal marijuana. Unfortunately that promise has been betrayed by the federal prosecutors out there.

I think now this is his final term, and I think he owes that constituency something, because he's the kind of guy who can make an aggressive push toward decriminalization, which has put more folks in jail, including black folks --


MR. PAGE: -- than about anything else.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he also try cocaine?

MR. PAGE: Of course, yeah. That's mentioned in his novel that he tried a little blow. And I think -- I admire a guy who was candid about --

MS. CLIFT: We don't call it a novel. We don't call it a novel. We call it a memoir. (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: Well, yeah, but I regard it -- I regard it like Alex Haley's "Roots."

MR. BUCHANAN: I think you were right the first time. (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: Yeah, like Alex --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was that a Freudian slip of some kind?

MR. PAGE: That was a Freudian slip. But, you know, he himself has said there are composite characters that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, he watches this program.

MR. PAGE: Well, I hope he does. He wants to be well-informed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- in Chicago.

MR. PAGE: He wants to be well-informed, absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think they'll get a deal. And as I said, the 35 percent will be maintained and they'll give up deductions and exemptions.


MS. CLIFT: The DREAM Act plus immigration reform will pass in the next -- probably in the next year. Republicans will rush to cooperate. Even Sean Hannity at Fox says he's evolving on immigration. (Laughs.)


MR. ZUCKERMAN: The Europeans are continuing to press down the value of the Euro in order to expand their exports to the United States and diminish U.S. exports to Europe.


MR. PAGE: Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who was reelected
this week by a landslide, despite not campaigning because he's in the Mayo Clinic, will step down, be replaced possibly by his wife or brother.


I predict the GOP will undertake an exhaustive reexamination of its core values, structure and mission.

(C) 2012 Federal News Service