The McLaughlin Group
Host: John McLaughlin
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report;
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune
Taped: Friday, January 24, 2014
Broadcast: Weekend of January 25-26, 2014
Copyright © 2014 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: State of the Union -- a Forecast.
This coming Tuesday, January 28th, President Obama will deliver his fifth State of the Union address. In it he'll lay out to both houses of Congress and the public his plan of action for the coming year. The speech comes as Mr. Obama weathers storms over his presidency, including the glitch-ridden rollout of his signature Affordable Care Act website and the revelations of widespread surveillance of the American public by the national Security Agency, the NSA.
Polls show our president with higher disapproval marks than approval. Fifty-four percent disapprove of the way he's handling his job. Forty percent approve. The president nevertheless seemed unbowed as he addressed his remaining three years in office in an engrossing and extended interview with David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker magazine.
Quote President Obama: "The conventional wisdom is that a president's second term is a matter of minimizing the damage and playing defense rather than playing offense. But as I reminded my team the day after I was inaugurated for a second term, we're in charge of the largest organization on earth, and our capacity to do some good, both domestically and around the world, is unsurpassed, even if nobody is paying attention," unquote. So says Mr. Obama.
Question: If you were advising the president on his State of the Union address next week and the remainder of his second term in general, what would you advise him to emphasize, Pat?
PAT BUCHANAN: Well, John, I would say stay away from the Iran negotiations and Syria, because they're divisive and they're problematic. And what you focus on is domestic policy in the whole beginning of the speech, and you start off and say the American economy is recovering. Our growth is one of the fastest in the western world.
However, we've got problems. And one of the main problems is income and wealth inequality. And here's how we're going to deal with it. We're going to extend unemployment benefits. We're going to deal with the Hispanics in this country who are undocumented, bring them out of the shadows. That'll help. We want to raise the minimum wage.
And I want to work with you in Congress on these things. But I have to tell you that if you don't work with me, I have a pen and I have a phone, and I'm going to do my best by executive order to keep this economy moving and keep it going forward. But I want your support.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That'll win a lot of support.
MR. BUCHANAN: That's got the Democrats right out of their chair. We've got Clarence going crazy over there.
CLARENCE PAGE: Even Clarence is clapping. (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, what would you advise him to do?
ELEANOR CLIFT: Pat's an old presidential speechwriter, and that was actually right on the mark.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So was I.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Believe me, that's not designed to win friends and influence people.
MS. CLIFT: I thought that was pretty good. The president has to fully own "Obamacare," which I believe he will, and there will be recipients of "Obamacare" in the audience sitting with the first lady, because we're embarking now on a year-long, you know, war that will culminate in the November elections as to whether it's an up-or-down vote on "Obamacare."
And then, secondly, he's got to ask the Congress for immigration reform, for extended unemployment benefits, for raising the minimum wage. But he's got to make clear that he's prepared to go on his own, that he can act without Congress. And he's got to try to rekindle some of the lost promise of the last year to show that he -- you know, he's still got some juice. And the people who have given up on him, it's too early. There's still lots he can do with that pen and that phone.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What would you advise him to emphasize?
MORT ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, I certainly would have him focus on the economy. But I would have him particularly focus on education and how that is the key for a lot of people who are coming out of very low- income families or moderate-income families who want to have upward mobility, and that education is the key to upward mobility for all the Americans of that generation.
And everybody needs to get behind that particular issue. That's the one issue I would really focus on is education, particularly education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, the so- called STEM, because that's where the future of a lot of people can be, and it'll be a successful -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the scoring of children on education when placed in the international context? Have you seen any of those discouraging results?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They are discouraging, because particularly our public education system, particularly in elementary school and high school, is actually quite weak when measured against everybody else. And yet this is the key to the future of not only the individuals, but of the country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.
MR. PAGE: Indeed. Well, I can hardly improve on what everyone has said already. I would just add that in the education area, I'd love to see some new ideas. I think one area he has not touched on much is in job training. He's talked about how we've fallen behind as far as the high school graduation gap. And college costs, of course, are soaring. I hope he addresses that; but also in between, job training. You've got to have some schooling beyond high school in order to have any increase in real wages in your life.
I'd like to see something like what Germany has done, subsidizing private businesses that have job-training programs, and thus they bring in workers perhaps on reduced salary while they're learning a trade, learning to do something with their hands.
This also has done wonders for closing the gender gap. Girls are doing better than boys now in their academic achievement, and partly because girls are just better behaved -- (laughs) -- in the classroom.
MS. CLIFT: People always want to know what are the new ideas. And if they have new ones, they haven't telegraphed them yet. And short of new ideas, they're going to repeat all the old ones. And I think that's fine. I mean, I think that basically a lot of people are going to be tuning in, not only just watching TV; the way this White House is going to disseminate this speech through all the social media. And it's not just the ratings, the TV ratings, you have to look at. You have to look at the way that they get the message out. And they've got to energize young people to vote next November, which is almost a year from now.
MR. BUCHANAN: You know, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I'm hearing things here that are good ideas, but I'm not sure we've hit one hard enough, and that is fix "Obamacare." He's got to almost apologize for saying that if you like your insurance, you can keep it. He should stress that "Obamacare" can be corrected. It can be made a useful instrument of this democracy.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, but don't be too --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he can do it.
MR. BUCHANAN: But don't be too defensive. I mean, look, if I'm him --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Be very defensive.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, no, no. I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, I mean don't be too defensive. OK.
MR. BUCHANAN: You might be correct when you say, look, mistakes have clearly been made in the handling of this and this and this. But 2 million people have signed up. More are signing up. And if we've got problems with it, why don't we work together to fix it?
MS. CLIFT: Pat, I think you --
MR. BUCHANAN: That kind of answers --
MS. CLIFT: I think you've just jumped parties here. (Laughs.)
MR. PAGE: (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, he asked me to write the speech, Eleanor. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: I know. Right. OK. (Laughs.) The check's in the mail.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know, he misled people.
MR. PAGE: Yes. But they --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He misled them.
MS. CLIFT: It was not intentional.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a serious rap when a president does that.
MS. CLIFT: It was not intentional. And he has apologized endlessly for that. He's poked fun at himself.
MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John, let me say --
MS. CLIFT: So I don't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now it's kind of --
MS. CLIFT: Maybe half a sentence --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- floating out there by itself.
MR. BUCHANAN: But, you know, John --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's floating out there for a good reason. He used it in 25 speeches before it became famous. And you have to ask yourself not only that he said it, but nobody on his staff checked out what he was saying --
MR. BUCHANAN: You know, John --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- when it was wrong.
MR. PAGE: Actually, there was some internal conflict about that.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, there may have been.
MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: But what it did, it not only affected his respect; it affected the sense of competency and the way people looked at his competency.
MR. BUCHANAN: But, you know, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also, however, he can also stress some of the good things that seem to have emerged --
MR. BUCHANAN: But, you know, I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and that is we're getting out of Afghanistan.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, yeah, OK. But foreign policy is deeply divisive. Iran is. But I think Clarence is on to something, to be honest. Frankly, I think vocational schools in high school and things like that where kids -- if they're not learning all the academic stuff, you could teach them things. When I was growing up, we had plenty of them in D.C. Our problem is, Clarence, we lost 6 million manufacturing jobs in the first decade of the 21st century.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, I've got to move this forward.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but they're coming back, though.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've got to move this forward, Eleanor --
MS. CLIFT: Manufacturing is coming back.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- because we're not striking all of the right notes. One sure State of the Union theme will be economic, I believe, inequality.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) So let me repeat, the combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American dream, our way of life and what we stand for around the globe.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So said President Obama in December, last month. And the theme of economic inequality will be one he repeats next Tuesday during his State of the Union address.
The president's focus comes just as a major study from Oxfam International, an anti-poverty group made up of 17 organizations working in more than 90 countries, released some startling statistics. Get this: The richest 85 people in the world own more wealth than the poorest half of the entire world's population.
Oxfam has also found that seven in 10 people live in countries where economic inequality has widened. And the U.S. tops that list. In the U.S., the richest 1 percent, quote, "captured 95 percent of the post-financial crisis growth since 2009," unquote, while the bottom 90 percent's wealth decreased.
It's not all dire news, however. That's if you believe Bill Gates.
Gates attributes better farming methods and new vaccinations and the digital revolution to back up his big prediction. Quote: "By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world. Almost all countries will be what we now call lower middle income or richer," unquote.
Question: Not to parse words, but what's the most recent research on economic mobility? And is President Obama right when he says it is slowing down? Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, there is, frankly, very limited economic mobility. And frankly, it goes back to what I was saying before. The educational differences in America are really staggering. And that is the pathway and the ladder to economic mobility. We've had the least amount of economic mobility in the last -- certainly during his presidency than we've had since the end of World War II. And this is --
MR. BUCHANAN: A recent study -- but a recent study that came out this week showed that there's an enormous amount of economic mobility, quite frankly. But look, John, let's take a look at the last 50 years or something. All of Eastern Europe is free. Their standard of living is up. The whole Soviet Union came apart. Communist China, Maoist China -- I was there. You had great equality there when Nixon and I were there in 1972. But now you've got billionaires and millionaires and people making $100,000, and people making nothing.
Inequality is not the problem as long as everybody is moving up. Who cares that Mort's got a billion dollars and you and I may not?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Wait a minute.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Wait a minute. You go too far, Pat. (Laughter.)
MR. BUCHANAN: Don't understate the man's wealth, my friend.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: But I agree.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Inequality is not the issue. Jobs are the issue and education is the issue.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right, and moving up.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Those are the kinds of issues that we have to deal with.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. But the fact that jobs and income are not working the way they're supposed to has created this huge gap. And we're now looking kind of like a banana republic, which is not what this country is all about. The president, in that David Remnick New Yorker article, meeting with academics and asking them how can I talk about this growing inequality without everybody screaming class warfare. And I think now Republicans agree it's a problem too.
Now the debate is about what do you do about it. And Democrats are -- you know, you have progressives who want to raise taxes on people who make over $500,000, which I think is a great idea. But that's not enough. And you've got the old Hillary Clinton/Bill Clinton, you know, centrists who feel it's all about job growth. This president has put up all these job plans before Congress. He can't get them through Congress. So he's left really to, you know, plead, raise the minimum wage.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, well --
MS. CLIFT: You know, it's hard to get --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. CLIFT: -- new jobs programs going.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, listen --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're making too many excuses for him. He's a very, very skilled rhetorician, and he can clarify this whole business if he really wants to do it.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, I hope he will.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Will President Obama emphasize in his State of the Union address -- will it be pro-growth economic policies to create opportunity, or will it be economic redistribution, spread the wealth, as Barack said to Joe the Plumber? Remember that?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah. I think what he's going to emphasize is, A, the economy is growing. It's growing. But, B, there's economic inequality. But he isn't going to say let's redistribute the wealth. (Laughs.) He's going to say here's the minimum wage. Here's immigration reform. Here's unemployment benefits. Here's education, all these things. He's not going to say let's redistribute the wealth.
MS. CLIFT: No. It's not either-or. And actually, there's a lot of good economic news that he can point to. We're on our way to becoming energy-independent. The deficit has come down more in the last year than in some time. He's already frowning over here. But I think there's expectation that growth is going to be much higher this coming year. I think it's looking good. He can't say --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You'd --
MS. CLIFT: -- it's perfect, because it's not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You'd better think.
MS. CLIFT: But there's some good news.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sing the blues to her, will you?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, on the front page of the Financial Times today they point out that the willingness of American business to spend on plant and equipment, which is the multiplier of all multipliers in the economy, is at the lowest level since the end of World War II, 1.2 percent.
This is unbelievably a statement about what the business people, who know what their industries are like, what they think about the economic future. So there is a lot of apprehension about where this economy is going. And we are growing at a very, very low rate.
So let me give you one more statistic. The average rate of growth in the four years coming out of every recession we've had -- there were eight of them since the end of World War II -- four years on average; it was 4.1 percent. We have been growing at a rate of about 2.2 percent. That's a huge decline in the rate of growth over the last four years.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but that was a different --
MR. PAGE: You have certainty, though, that industry faces. They don't want to invest in an uncertain future. I think the more Obama shows that we're not going to have so much uncertainty, that we're going to have more stability over the next year, you're going to see more confidence.
Wall Street's doing great. Why is that? Because people with money do have --
MR. BUCHANAN: Not the last two days, Clarence. They're down 400 points. (Laughs.)
MR. PAGE: Two days. Look at the last year, Pat. I mean, people --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The other thing is the immediacy of this action by Obama, because he's going to be settling into the strict lame-duck status.
The talk is already excessive with regard to who's going to run in 2016.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, that is such --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's going to be a lame duck in a year.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, I was with Ronald Reagan in his, you know, second term. He wasn't any lame duck. He's going to Russia. He's getting arms control agreements. He got a huge tax cuts. You don't have to be a --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you ought to --
MR. BUCHANAN: You're a lame duck if you've got the attitude of a lame duck.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. He likes Reagan, by the way, and he's read some Reagan work. And he's clearly -- he thinks Reagan --
MR. BUCHANAN: That's who he ought to sound like.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you ought to tell him that.
MR. BUCHANAN: I'll try.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's your duty, Pat.
Issue Two: Syriana.
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: (From videotape.) He has long since, because of his choice of weapons, because of what he has done, lost any legitimacy. Who can imagine that tomorrow or in a week or in a month you could suddenly say, oh, OK, it's all right; you can lead Syria?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the opening day of talks to resolve the Syrian civil war, Secretary of State John Kerry demanded that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad step down and cede power to a transitional government. Quote: Bashar Assad will not be part of that transition government," unquote.
Kerry's position reflects the international consensus of the 2012 Geneva communique, which called for the conference to establish a cease-fire and interim government for Syria. The peace talks, convened by the United Nations, got off to a testy start when Syria's foreign minister refused to give up the microphone after U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon chided him for exceeding his allotted time.
Both the Syrian opposition and the Assad regime traded charges of terrorism and war crimes over the course of the three-year-long civil war in which some 130,000 Syrians have died. Syria has complied with demands that it surrender its chemical weapons, and Syrian government troops have the upper hand in the fighting.
Syria's information minister, Omran Zoubi, was blunt. Quote: "There will be no transfer of power, and President Bashar Assad is staying," unquote. Furthermore, the Obama administration hopes for Assad to turn over power were dealt a setback days before the talks opened when Iran refused to send a delegation to Switzerland because of the precondition that it abide by the objective of creating a post- Assad government.
Iran is a staunch ally of Bashar al-Assad. Iranian troops are fighting in Syria, and Iranian aircraft keep Assad's regime supplied with aid and weapons. On a separate track, negotiations with Iran over ending its nuclear program are progressing, with U.N. monitors verifying this week that Iran has stopped down its uranium enrichment.
Question: Can a truce be brokered in Syria without Iran's agreement? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, it can't, John. And I think a truce is possible, but I think John Kerry made a terrible mistake going over there. First, he's ineffectual. He denounces this guy, but he can't do a thing about it. Secondly, if you're going to have negotiations, you at least ought to start off on a stately note rather than that attack.
But I do think that, frankly, the -- look, there's been atrocities on all sides. But I do think the Syrian government, because it has the whip hand right now, is probably ready for local truces and things like that. I think the best we can hope out of this thing is to stop the killing and slaughter in various places, get the humanitarian in there -- aid in there. And anything that contributes to that is a good end.
Why Iran was disinvited -- one reason is the opposition Syrians would have walked out if Iran had walked in. But ultimately they and Hezbollah and Russia have all got to be on board if there's going to be a peace agreement.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't there -- aren't they all on board?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Iran is not even in there. Of course, Hezbollah's not in there. The Russians are there.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: But it's heavily weighted on the other side.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clearly Iran's on board.
MS. CLIFT: You should have the Saudis and the Qataris, everybody who's pouring arms in there -- I think everybody should be at the table. But that's not the decision that the diplomats made. Now, I give Kerry a lot of credit for pushing ahead on this. You maybe didn't like his opening statement, but it was the same tenor as all the other players there. These are the opening bids. He's there. We're not.
And I think if they can get some sort of reprieve to get humanitarian aid and medicine through -- Assad, and the rebels, too, to some extent, are using food and medicine as weapons of war. It's almost worse than the chemical weapons. I mean, it's really a brutal scene over there.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, that's why you want a truce.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat -- not Pat, but --
MS. CLIFT: Absolutely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Mort.
MS. CLIFT: Or a reprieve, if you want to call it something other than a truce.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I couldn't agree with you more that it is a brutal scene, what is going on on the ground, what has been going on on the ground, the numbers of people who have been killed, the way they have been killed, the number of people whose families have been wiped out. I don't see how it's going to get better.
The only way that the Syrian government will move is if there is some real threat to their livelihood and existence. And that threat does not exist. And as long as we can't find a way to really put pressure on them, I don't think there's going to be much hope that we're going to get anything of substance --
MS. CLIFT: Or --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- out of this negotiation.
MS. CLIFT: Or if Assad is given some assurance he can stay. I mean, I think this administration is far out on a limb saying he has to go, but I don't know that getting rid of him right now would improve the situation.
MR. BUCHANAN: But do we want Assad to fall?
MS. CLIFT: They need to climb down from that.
MR. BUCHANAN: Do we want Assad --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, we do not.
MR. BUCHANAN: I mean, look, the victors will be al-Qaida and these jihadists. Just this week, John, the guy that runs al-Qaida urged his allies to go against -- go against Iran, go against Assad, go against Russia. These are our enemies.
Look, if our ally is al-Qaida, I mean, what kind of war do we want to get into, Mort?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, when you -- listen, this is what are called a lot of bad choices.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.)
MR. PAGE: I was going to say, we need some kind of solidarity to isolate Assad, because you're right; we're not going to be sending troops in there and we're not going to necessarily right away get him to step down. And we've got to just begin the process, which is what's happening now. So as long as we're still talking, there's hope.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The internal conflicts within Iran are -- not Iran -- within Syria are so great that without Assad, the whole situation would fly out of control.
MR. PAGE: You could say the same thing in Iraq, Afghanistan, you know.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Put it in your next column, will you?
Issue Three: Centrist Versus Liberal.
NEW YORK GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO (D): (From videotape.) The state will pay for it, and the state will be proud to pay for it. It's a priority. We believe in children. We believe in pre-K. We believe in education. Let's put our money where our mouth is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled his plan to bring universal pre-kindergarten to his state this week in his annual budget address. Governor Cuomo, who is also up for reelection, is making good on a top Democratic education priority. President Obama also embraced universal pre-K, as it is called, in his State of the Union address last year.
Mr. Obama has not managed to muster support at the federal level, but the idea has caught on in New York, including New York City. The new mayor, Bill de Blasio, has his own universal pre-K plan for the five boroughs.
Mayor de Blasio, a progressive Democrat, wants to hike taxes on those who make more than $500,000 a year to pay for it. Cuomo, a centrist Democrat who served in the Clinton administration, is campaigning on a $2 billion cut in state taxes this year. De Blasio's plan conflicts directly with Cuomo's plan, pitting Democrat against Democrat in the latest example of the growing split between Obama progressives -- i.e., liberals -- and Clinton centrists.
These dueling universal pre-K plans will now be settled by the New York legislature, which has the ultimate say in passing laws to create universal pre-kindergarten education and how to pay for it.
Question: Who will win if the mayor and the governor battle it out in the New York legislature over universal pre-K? Mort, you're a New Yorker. What?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It is not even close. The governor is going to win hands down. He put the mayor in a corner, OK. He's got the ability to put this program across the state, not just in New York, and without any additional taxes. He's got two big giant steps ahead of the mayor.
The mayor says, look, I was elected on this platform. He was certainly elected by a huge margin. There's no way that he's going to get the tax increase that he wants through the state legislature, which he must get, without the governor's support. So this is a game- over situation at this stage.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.
MR. PAGE: Yeah, in a direct confrontation like that, it's true, Cuomo holds the cards at the state level. I think you've seen a situation where Cuomo had a run-in with the cardinal over a quote that he had given that had been actually misquoted in terms of saying if you're anti-gun --
MS. CLIFT: Pro-life, pro-assault weapon --
MR. BUCHANAN: Pro-life, pro-assault weapon.
MS. CLIFT: -- and anti-homosexual, you have no place in New York. But he was talking about candidates.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, please. Could you slow that down? What did he say?
MS. CLIFT: If you're --
MR. BUCHANAN: Pro-life.
MS. CLIFT: -- pro-life, pro-assault weapon and anti-homosexual, you have no place in New York.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK.
MS. CLIFT: He's talking about candidates running for political office.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Now --
MS. CLIFT: It's not a winning platform --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, you may --
MS. CLIFT: -- in New York.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You may wish to wipe the slate clean, but Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone on Wednesday, Eleanor, called the comments by Cuomo the best example of extremism I've heard for a long time. What do you think of that?
MS. CLIFT: I think that's a statement that has no basis in fact.
MR. BUCHANAN: It is not terribly inclusive to say candidates who agree with Ronald Reagan and Billy Graham and Pope John Paul II on pro-life have no place in New York State. If I recall correctly, Reagan carried New York State.
MS. CLIFT: I think a pro --
MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)
MS. CLIFT: -- a pro-choice candidate, a pro-gun-control candidate who supports gay rights, would not fare very well in a number of states in this country.
MR. BUCHANAN: That's not what -- but Cuomo said they don't belong in New York.
MS. CLIFT: That's the import of what he was saying. He said they have no political future in New York.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: He was talking about politics, and it was misinterpreted. And when you look at the actual copy of what he said, it's clear that was the context of the question. And so he's probably -- in political terms, right, you could say he shouldn't have said that. But it certainly is probably a political fact in New York State.
MS. CLIFT: He was talking about the political operatives.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get straight what Cuomo said. The governor drew criticism nationwide from conservatives and Republicans for his remarks during a public radio interview last week about how he defined, quote, "extremist conservatives," unquote, as those who are against abortion rights, gun control measures and gay marriage, and said people with such views have no place in New York.
MR. BUCHANAN: That's half the country he's talking about. And on guns, it's more than half.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of that, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think he made a foolish statement that has severely damaged himself --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- despite what Eleanor has said in his defense.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You have the last word, Pat.
Who can beat Hillary in `16?
MR. BUCHANAN: Right now, no one.
MS. CLIFT: No one. (Laughs.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Only Hillary can beat Hillary.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh.
MR. PAGE: That's a --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: If she mucks up her campaign, then she would have trouble.
MR. PAGE: That's a good answer.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's the only way she will lose.
MR. PAGE: Look what happened last time.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you clinging to Mort?
MR. PAGE: There could be a dark horse come in from somewhere, but I don't know who that is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We are both clinging to you, Mort.
(C) 2014 Federal News Service