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The McLaughlin Group

Host: John McLaughlin

Panel:
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast;
Chris Matthews, MSNBC;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report

Taped: Friday, November 1, 2013
Broadcast: Weekend of November 2-3, 2013

Copyright © 2013 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 info@fednews.com or call 1-202-347-1400.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Botched Rollout.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) If you like your doctor, you're going to be able to keep your doctor. If you like your plan, keep your plan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three days before Congress voted to pass the Affordable Care Act in 2010, President Obama told Americans, who wanted to keep their health insurance, yes, you can. In the following three and a half years, Mr. Obama and administration officials repeated this promise, so many times that the White House website, WhiteHouse.gov, now has 102,000 matches for the words, quote, "You can keep your insurance," unquote.

This week President Obama went to Boston. On the same day, Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius appeared on Capitol Hill. The Obama-Sebelius mission: A 911 emergency rescue of "Obamacare" after its disastrous October rollout. The tactic: Defend and deflect.

The latest furor broke out this week concerning 10 million Americans who have health coverage under individual or small group plans. They're getting notices from insurance companies that "Obamacare" regulations mean that when it comes to keeping their current plans, no, they can't.
White House spokesman Jay Carney is already elasticizing the president's past pledges, adding a XXX-size caveat. The new White House spin is that the canceled plans were substandard and the new mandatory, often costlier, plans will be better -- once the exchange website works, that is.

Secretary Sebelius apologized for the faulty website, but not for mass cancellations. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton chastened the unrepentant Sebelius.

REPRESENTATIVE FRED UPTON (R-MI): (From videotape.) I would guess that there are a lot of us on this panel today that are hearing from angry and confused constituents who are now being forced to go onto an inept website, whether they like it or not, to shop for a new replacement policy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: If the president's promises about keeping insurance were subject to the Federal Trade Commission's truth-in-advertising standard, would President Obama be guilty of deceptive practices? Pat Buchanan.

PAT BUCHANAN: The FTC has outlawed the bait and switch, John, and that's what this is. Before this week and during October, the problem for Obama was this was a metaphor for incompetence and disaster in the rollout, horribly handled.
But this thing is more serious, because it goes directly to the credibility of the president of the United States and to his integrity. Basically, what the president did was systematically deceive the American people as to what was the truth that they were going to be able to keep their plan. And not only hundreds of thousands, but millions are losing their plans and being forced to buy new plans.
I think this hurts the president deeply and personally in a place he's never been hurt before.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

ELEANOR CLIFT: Well, the administration's on the defensive, clearly. And the critics want it to be all about the president's credibility, that he's lying, that he knew all along. But there are some facts that you have to engage with here.

When the president made those statements, they grandfathered in all of the existing insurance policies before the Affordable Care Act passed. The government cannot be responsible for the decisions of private insurance companies.

And the people who are getting their plans canceled are 5 percent of the market who operate on the -- by individual policies. Most of those people are going to discover that if they go on the exchanges, they will find a better deal and that the insurance they had would be canceled when they got sick, that they would be dropped if they developed some sort of condition. It was what they call in the industry junk insurance.

So time will sort this out. The website will be fixed. People will discover they have options. And this will -- we're entering now a period of dueling anecdotes, horror stories versus success stories.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chris Matthews, why wait on time? Why don't you sort out what she just said?

CHRIS MATTHEWS: (Laughs.) Well, you know, I think this is going to hurt him, because there's people like me who hate paperwork, and we were promised you wouldn't have to even deal with this bureaucracy if you have a good health care plan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. MATTHEWS: What nobody talked about was there's junk health care plans that don't even cover hospitalization, that don't cover anything, really. And people like them because they haven't been sick. But I think this is -- I'm with Eleanor on this point.

I think it's going to be duked out in the end on what your values are. I've noticed that African-Americans, for example, are all for this because they really need it, the working poor. They don't have health insurance. And the whites, who just happen to be the other group in this case, they're against it.

Look, this is going to be duked out on the question do you want health insurance or not from the government or not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MORT ZUCKERMAN: Let me give you a factual part of this thing, OK? In anticipation of the health care program, you had a 12-month window preceding it to determine whether or not you were full-time or part-time work. In the first six months of last year -- these are Bureau of Labor Statistics -- we created 833,000 part-time jobs and we lost 97,000 full-time jobs.

Now, we created -- it balanced out a little bit in the second month. But that is a direct reflection of the anticipation that part- time jobs were not going to be covered by this insurance program.

So in terms of employment, 65 percent of the jobs this year are health -- part-time jobs. This is all a reflection of the health care program, more than any other single issue. And it's a disaster for the average American who is looking for a job.

MR. BUCHANAN: When the employer mandate cuts in, which is a year from now, what you talk about is going to hit hard. It's going to be another blow to this program. One of the things about this program, it's not simply the thing Eleanor's talked about is the websites, which is going to be cured. But one after another major problems inherent to the program itself is coming down the road. And there's a lot of Democrats -- and I would predict that the Democrats are going to ask for this individual mandate to be thrown off for one year.

MS. CLIFT: I disagree with that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK. OK.

MS. CLIFT: That's not going to happen. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All in the family.

Barack is not the only Obama to promise you can keep your insurance. First Lady Michelle Obama, with Secretary Sebelius at her side, made the same claim to leaders of women's groups at the White House. Quote: "If you already have insurance -- and it seems that there are a lot of people who are worried that they'll lose what they have under this plan -- but under this plan, if you already have insurance, you're set. Nothing changes. You keep your insurance. You keep your doctor," unquote.

Question: How could the White House staff, from the chief of staff down to the junior speechwriters, let the president and the first lady put their credibility on the line with these false claims?

MR. BUCHANAN: The reason they did this, John, is this was the assurance all of us were looking for that have got health insurance. They say you've got your doctor. You've got your plan. You're not involved. And what we're going to do is help people who need it. And most of the country said, OK, we'll go along with that.

MS. CLIFT: And that's true for 95 percent --

MR. BUCHANAN: It was a systematic deception.

MS. CLIFT: -- 95 percent of people.

MR. BUCHANAN: Millions of people --

MS. CLIFT: Ninety-five percent.

MR. BUCHANAN: And the 5 percent are millions of people who were deceived.

MS. CLIFT: Yes. And most of them are going to get a better deal. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK --

MR. BUCHANAN: According to Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: According to Eleanor and Chris -- (laughs) -- and the Affordable Care Act.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's try this. OK, promises, promises.
Secretary Sebelius says, starting next year, the cost of insuring a middle-class family will drop $2,300. And that's before any subsidies, depending on income and tax credits. Here it is, verbatim quote: "Middle-class families purchasing private insurance in the new state-based health insurance exchanges could save as much as $2,300 per year in 2014," unquote.

Question: Will that promise of a $2,300 drop in the cost of family coverage materialize next year? Mort Zuckerman.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, all I can tell you is everybody in my company just got a notice from the insurance company that their premiums were going up, and going up dramatically. And they just got them yesterday in response to that bill.
Now, I can't talk for Americans. All I can tell you is that, in my own company, is what happened. And I think that's a disgrace for what this program is going to imply for a lot of American families.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chris.

MR. MATTHEWS: The 5 percent that Eleanor keeps referring to, which is the reality -- 5 percent of the people aren't getting what -- couldn't keep what they had -- are junk -- usually junk policies, which don't even cover hospitalization, which have -- what do you call it -- deductions of, like, $15,000. So if you get any serious illness, you have to pay it out of pocket.

Sure, it's going to reach that $2,300 measure, because that includes a reduction in premiums, but also a reduction in what you have to pay when the insurance policy doesn't cover your problems.

MR. BUCHANAN: Chris, those people like --

MS. CLIFT: And it also --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- their policy, and now you're going to take it away from them --

MR. MATTHEWS: Suppose that all you have --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- because they don't meet Chris's standards
of what they ought to have.

MR. MATTHEWS: No, no, no. No, no, no, no. That's just -- a lot of these policies are catastrophic policies. They're worth five bucks a month. All they cover is the worst-case scenario.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's what some kid 19 years old wants.

MR. MATTHEWS: But that's not pooling the resources of the country. That's not sharing the risk.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. And the insurance companies --

MR. MATTHEWS: That's not having a health care policy.

MS. CLIFT: And insurance companies yank these away as soon as you get sick. That $2,300 is not a figure that Kathleen Sebelius made up. It's based on the Congressional Budget Office's estimate, which says that the Affordable Care Act is going to save money over a period.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, you've got --

MS. CLIFT: This is the beginning --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, you've got serious --

MS. CLIFT: No, I don't know. I'm --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- falsification here -- falsification.

MS. CLIFT: I did my research.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, Romney's retort.

President Obama went to Boston this week to claim that his plan will work as well for America as Mitt Romney's universal coverage did for Massachusetts. Here's Mitt Romney's response. Quote: "Nothing has changed my view that a plan crafted to fit the unique circumstances of a single state should not be grafted onto the entire country. Health reform is best crafted by states, with bipartisan support and input from its employers, as we did, without raising taxes and by carefully phasing it in to avoid the type of disruption we are seeing nationally," unquote.

Romney, by the way, was not invited to attend the president's Faneuil Hall speech defending "Obamacare."

Question: Who, aside from Mitt Romney, sees the current chaos as disruptive? Chris Matthews.

MR. MATTHEWS: Well, I think Romney was right on the mark there. When you have a bipartisan -- when the governor's helping you to implement the program, when the governor's part of the program, it works in a state that's receptive to government activity like this in health care.

When you go to Mississippi, of course people will do everything but throw monkey wrenches into the process, who don't want to implement it, who want to destroy it. Sure, it won't work. This is -- his statement there goes directly to what Obama's saying. It's about wanting the thing to work and not wanting it to work.

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: John -- John --

MS. CLIFT: But there's also massive resistance to this plan across the states, which really rivals the way many states in this country reacted to school desegregation.

MR. BUCHANAN: But --

MS. CLIFT: But Mitt Romney has -- he has said numerous times, before this clip that you just aired, a couple of years previous to that, that he saw "Romneycare" or the plan he developed and created in Massachusetts as a model for the country. You can find that videotape quite easily, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, a model for the --

MS. CLIFT: I'm sure you will.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- individual states in the country, not for the country as a whole.

MS. CLIFT: No. He said the model for the country as a whole.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: On a credibility scale from zero to 100, zero meaning no credibility whatsoever and 100 meaning total credibility, what is President Obama's current credibility rating, zero to 100? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Washington Post gave him four Pinocchios, which is its highest level of lying, quite frankly. So today his non- credibility level is probably eight out of 10.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You hear that, Matthews? Four Pinocchios.

MR. MATTHEWS: I would say, on the right --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Four Pinocchios.

MR. MATTHEWS: -- since you asked one to -- how did I say --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Right. And --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pick a number straight, now.

MR. MATTHEWS: Sixty-six. Sixty-six.

MS. CLIFT: Four times that of his critics.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yeah. He has a health care plan. They don't.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's your answer to the question?

MS. CLIFT: I'll go along with Chris's 66, and I'll point out that's four times what the credibility of Republicans in this debate.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think it's 38.79 percent.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thirty-eight.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: 38.79. We have to be precise on this show, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, a generous marker.

OK, McLaughlin.com -- in answer to your comment, the McLaughlin.com does have its own website. And you can watch our program or any of the recent programs -- we go back, as a matter of fact, for several decades -- on the Web at any time, from anywhere in the world, at McLaughlin.com. And leave a comment yourself.

Issue Two: Cyberwarriors Unite.

JAMES CLAPPER (director of national intelligence): (From videotape.) It's invaluable to us to know where countries are coming from, what their policies are, how that would impact us across a whole range of issues. So -- and it isn't just leaders themselves. It's what goes on around them and the policies that they convey to their governments.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James Clapper is the director of national intelligence, aka the U.S. ace spymaster. He confirmed this week to a House committee the U.S. does, in fact, spy on foes and friends alike. Director Clapper believes that such spying 101 should be obvious to all.

DIR. CLAPPER: (From videotape.) Some of this reminds me a lot of the classic movie "Casablanca" -- my God, there's gambling going on here. You know, it's the same kind of thing.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

HUMPHREY BOGART (portraying character in "Casablanca"): How can you close me up? On what grounds?
CLAUDE RAINS (portraying character in "Casablanca"): I'm shocked, shocked, to find that gambling is going on in here.
MARCEL DALIO (portraying character in "Casablanca"): Your winnings, sir.
MR. RAINS (portraying character): Oh, thank you very much.
(End videotaped segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, not everyone agrees that espionage is expected, like some of our allies that we spy on. Europe reacted officially with visible irritation to reports that 35 foreign leaders were being monitored by the U.S., including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, now viewed as the most powerful woman in the world.

Madam Merkel was reportedly furious after reports surfaced that her cell phone calls had been tapped for years. She called President Obama to demand that it stop.

GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL: (From videotape; translation provided by Mr. McLaughlin.) I repeat that spying among friends is not at all acceptable for anyone.
Ms. Merkel was born in communist East Germany, where the Stasi, the secret police, were despised. The EU sent a delegation to Washington this week to protect the surveillance. The chairman of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee is Elmar Brok, a distinguished German. He wants a no-spying pledge from the U.S.

ELMAR BROK (chairman, foreign affairs committee, European Union Parliament): (From videotape.) Never spy on your friends.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Some members of Congress agree. The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, is calling for a, quote-unquote, "major review of U.S. intelligence operations." Ms. Feinstein has been a traditional and fierce defender of the NSA, but she says she did not know of the monitoring of Ms. Merkel. Neither did Senate Intelligence Committee member Susan Collins, a 17-year veteran of the U.S. Senate.

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): (From videotape.) There's absolutely no justification for our country to be collecting intelligence information on the leaders of some of our closest allies.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The reports of NSA spying, by the way, all flow from the studious work by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

This just in: The National Security Agency took the unusual step Thursday of denying the report that it eavesdropped on the Vatican's phone calls and that it even may have tapped in on Pope Francis before he was elected. What do you make of that, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this a church-state issue?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) You mean they got in on the consistory and they wanted to pick the new pope, John?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who knows? There was a lot of money on that race.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me say this about the NSA. Those guys have not done anything that was not known to the National Security Council --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- and the White House. And the idea of blaming these guys, who were doing the job they were assigned to do, and oh my goodness from Ms. Feinstein, there's a touch of hypocrisy here, John.

MS. CLIFT: I agree. There's a lot of faux outrage here. I'm with Clapper on this issue as well. I mean, I think, because of the technological advances and the fact that we now, you know, look in on people's cell phones, you know, I think there has to be some more guidelines brought into this thing. But overall, friends spy on friends, be it ever thus. It's not going to stop.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of that, Mort? Friends spy on friends. Who are you spying on?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think that -- well, not enough people, clearly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.) No friends?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: There's no doubt -- there's no doubt that this has been going on forever in one form or another. You can't tell me that the administration didn't know about it because they were given reports about all of this. What is he going to say -- this came from a pigeon? I mean, this is ridiculous. So we all knew it was going on. They've been doing it in Europe for decades and centuries.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And this has just been a part of life in the world. And alas, when it comes public, everybody has to be protesting.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Congratulations, Chris, on this book, "Tip and the Gipper." Do you think that Tip was monitoring the phone calls of the Gipper?

MR. MATTHEWS: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: The other way around, John. (Laughs.)

MR. MATTHEWS: I'll tell you one thing good that isn't like today, in that Reagan, your boss, would call up at 3:00 in the afternoon and say to Tip, what time is it over there? Let's change our watches to 6:00. I've got something to propose to you.

There was a working relationship. They fought like Irish guys. They fought like men over everything. But in the end, there was this wonderful period (every once in a while ?) they'd actually sign a peace treaty. They did fix Social Security. He did back Reagan up on the Cold War ending and on things like tax reform, a 28 percent top rate, but equalizing the rate you pay for real income, earned income, and equity income, cap gains. They did a lot of good things behind the scenes on Northern Ireland too.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, and they also had aides who knew how to work together. And the White House, because I was covering the White House --

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

MS. CLIFT: -- they put everything together, and then Reagan came in and sealed the deal.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yeah. But we were, like, friends with Duberstein and Deaver.

MS. CLIFT: Exactly.

MR. MATTHEWS: They worked back and forth. But yet they weren't -- Pat was leading this. It was a fight all the time. I think you can fight philosophically all the time and still know you have a duty to do your job.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here's a copy of Matthews' book. Matthews, you owe me for this. Get a close-up of the book, please.

MR. MATTHEWS: John, I owe you a lot more than that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You can find that at your local bookstore.

OK, they do it too.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN): Is it your experience that allies of the United States have spied on the United States historically?

GENERAL KEITH ALEXANDER (director, National Security Agency): Yes.

REP. BACHMANN: Or even as we speak?

DIR. ALEXANDER: Yes.

(End videotaped segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The director of the NSA, the National Security Agency, General Keith Alexander, defended U.S. spying on European allies and pointed to their espionage against the U.S. He also said that some reports in foreign papers about the NSA collecting the phone numbers of millions of citizens in France, Spain and Italy were false. The NSA collects data, to be sure, but with the help of Europe itself.

DIR. ALEXANDER: (From videotape.) To be perfectly clear, this is not information that we collected on European citizens. It represents information that we and our NATO allies have collected in defense of our countries and in support of military operations.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Does the cooperation of European intelligence services blunt the issue of U.S. eavesdropping? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, what the United States did was the NSC got the addresses and phone numbers of 35 of our closest friends, turned them over to the NSA and said tap and tape every single one of them. When you do that, you ought to expect that some of your friends are going to get ticked off at you, and some of them are going to be ex- friends.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but the second-day story here was the French and the Germans --

MR. BUCHANAN: They're all -- (inaudible).

MS. CLIFT: -- I think, who had collected all this stuff and shared it with us.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: So, you know, I think people need to --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a wonderful world, isn't it, Mort? (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: -- accept that this is the world we live in. And we should be grateful that we haven't been hit for a decade.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's been going on forever. There is one problem with it. They got caught.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's the one problem that changed everything.

MR. MATTHEWS: Didn't we think that would happen?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You know, you have to think about it. But, look, that this guy Snowden had access to all of this material and was able to walk out of it tells you something about the security we have. It's absolutely preposterous that this wasn't properly controlled.

MS. CLIFT: More people have a top security clearance than actually live in the District of Columbia. A lot of people have access to the government.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Snowden was not one of them. He didn't have top security.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do national security --

MS. CLIFT: He had a top clearance, of course.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please. Do -- thank you. Do national security interests warrant this kind of wiretapping?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I believe it does.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think not, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me give you the reasoning for it. The nuclear negotiations with Iran -- the next round is November 7th and 8th, and the U.S., Britain, France and Germany must stand united against Russia, China and Iran to achieve a negotiated resolution that is verifiable. That's why it's useful to know what our allies are really thinking. Do you understand?

MR. BUCHANAN: But here -- look, look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So we plug in and find out before the negotiations, and we know --

MR. BUCHANAN: But there's a price to be paid.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MR. BUCHANAN: There's a price to be paid if you're going to wiretap Angela Merkel. And you go to -- ask yourself, is it worth it to do that if you're going to ruin a relationship, which is vital?

MR. MATTHEWS: Well, said.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, come, come, come.

MS. CLIFT: Well, that's where the line --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Everything can be explained. You know that.

MS. CLIFT: -- needs to be drawn. That's where the line needs to be drawn.

MR. BUCHANAN: We had guys wiretapped in the Nixon White House, and relationships --

MS. CLIFT: They're not --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- were poisoned forever.

MS. CLIFT: They're not listening to her conversations. It's sweeping --

MR. BUCHANAN: They're just collecting them.

MS. CLIFT: No, it's metadata and all that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're gentlemen about this, aren't they, Eleanor? Yeah, yeah.

Issue Three: Christie and Company -- 2016.

NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R): (From videotape.) I'm committed to being the best governor New Jersey can have for as long as I could possibly do it. But, you know, George, neither one of us have a crystal ball and know what's going to happen in the future. I've been really honest with the people of New Jersey and told them exactly that. I'll do this job as long and as aggressively as I possibly can. And my current intention is to spend four years, but we'll see what happens, George. You never know what life's going to bring you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, just show 2016 ankle? Christie is already facing an election next week to be reinstalled if he wins as governor of the Garden State for another four years. His Democratic opponent is New Jersey State Senator Barbara Buono.

Assuming Christie serves a second gubernatorial term, the presidential election in 2016 would come midway through that second term as governor. So what do New Jersey's voters think of their governor running for president? A majority, 48 to 41 percent, say go for it.

If he does go for it, who would he face? No one has officially thrown his or her hat in the ring, but here are some rumored GOP contenders: Kentucky Senator Rand Paul; Florida Senator Marco Rubio; Texas Senator Ted Cruz; Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan; Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal; former Florida Governor Jeb Bush; Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker; South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley; New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez; Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin.

Have you assimilated all those names? Here's an easy question: Who has the best chance of being the GOP frontrunner? And is anyone missing from this list? Matthews.

MR. MATTHEWS: No, it's a good list. And the winner will be Rand Paul.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that it?

MR. MATTHEWS: That's my entire thought. Rand Paul will win the whole thing, because he can win in Iowa, New Hampshire, and he can win South Carolina. And he's the only candidate you listed there that can win all three.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is Vegas saying? Vegas.

MR. MATTHEWS: I don't think they've got a book on this yet.

MS. CLIFT: Chris --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're ahead of the --

MS. CLIFT: Chris said that months ago, maybe.

MR. MATTHEWS: Right.

MS. CLIFT: And I at first thought it was absurd, but I've come around to agree. And if you have Ted Cruz in there, Rand Paul can look like the reasonable, electable Republican next to him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's look a little bit at Cruz's biography -- Cruz control.

SENATOR TED CRUZ (R-TX): (From videotape.) I intend to speak in support of defunding "Obamacare" until I am no longer able to stand.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Senator Ted Cruz catapulted to the limelight with his 21-hour filibuster against "Obamacare."

Here's the Cruz bio. Born 1970, age 42, in -- get this -- Canada. Married. Two daughters. Princeton B.A., public policy, 1992. Harvard Law School, J.D., 1995. Law clerk, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, Supreme Court of the United States, 1996 to 1997.

Domestic policy adviser, Bush presidential campaign, 1999 to 2000. Associate deputy attorney general, U.S. Department of Justice, 2001. Director, Office of Policy Planning, Federal Trade Commission, 2001 to 2003. Solicitor general of Texas, Office of the Attorney General, 2003 to 2008; argued before the U.S. Supreme Court nine times. Adjunct professor of law, University of Texas Law School, 2004 to 2009. Partner, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, 2008 to 2012. Senator, U.S. Senate, 2013 -- now.

You got that memorized, Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, John, in the primaries in the Republican Party there are two brackets. There's an establishment bracket and there's a populist bracket. I think Cruz is going to be very competitive in the populist bracket. And your friend from New Jersey, Christie, will start off as the lead in the establishment bracket. And I think it -- I mean, Rand Paul's a good man, but I would not predict it --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cruz --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- as of right now for sure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cruz's mother is an American citizen. The baby was born in Canada. That makes Cruz an American citizen.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: An American citizen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, I think Cruz is a brilliant man. But he is so radical in his positions, political positions, that he will never, in my judgment, cross the divide in order to become a national candidate. And Christie, by the other hand, is a fantastic candidate who is a moderate and has unbelievable political skills.

MS. CLIFT: I would add two --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly, who is the candidate? We've only got four seconds.

MS. CLIFT: I already said Rand Paul.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rand Paul.

MS. CLIFT: But I think Christie --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Who's the candidate?

MR. MATTHEWS: Rand Paul.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rand Paul.

Forced prediction: The individual health care mandate will
be put off for one year.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. MATTHEWS: No.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

Out of time. Bye-bye.

(C) 2013 Federal News Service

END