This week on Fox News Sunday: Chris is live in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center ahead of the Democratic National Convention.
Mitt Romney on Obama's handling of global issues; key lawmakers discuss strategies for dealing with ISIS
Written by Chris Wallace / Published September 07, 2014 / Fox News Sunday
Special Guests: Mitt Romney, Rep. Michael McCaul, Sen. Robert Menendez, Katie Ledecky
This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," September 7, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I'm Chris Wallace.
Former Governor Mitt Romney is pulling no punches, blaming President Obama for the growing number of hot spots around the world.
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president has a foreign policy which has failed once again. We find ourselves facing a very severe and horrific series of scenes on the world stage.
WALLACE: Was Romney right in the 2012 presidential debates about Russia and other threats to the U.S.? And will he run again in 2016? Mitt Romney only on "Fox News Sunday."
Then, a second American is executed by ISIS. And new charges about Benghazi and why help came too late.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were told to wait and stand down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I strongly believed if we had left immediately they'd still be alive today.
WALLACE: We'll discuss because and threats to the U.S. with the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, Michael McCaul, and the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez.
Plus, even Democrats are now urging the president to crush ISIS.
SEN. KAY HAGAN (D), NORTH CAROLINA: This is a direct attack on the United States. Time is up. Action must be take.
WALLACE: Our Sunday panel weighs in on the rising tide against a no strategy foreign policy.
And our Power Player of the Week. Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, the local girl turned world class athlete.
KATIE LEDECKY, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: I would have been happy if I got first or last. I was really grateful to be at the Olympics.
WALLACE: All right now on "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
Barack Obama's approval rating this week tied an all-time low of 38 percent. And along with growing dissatisfaction about his presidency, there's been a spike in talk about the man he beat two years ago.
Joining us now, the GOP's 2012 nominee, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Governor, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
ROMNEY: Thanks, Chris. Good to be with you.
WALLACE: You had a tough article in "The Washington Post" this week in which you really went after President Obama for shrinking our military. In the article, you write this, "The history of the 20th century teaches that power hungry tyrants ultimately feast on the appeasers."
Back in 2012, the president mocked you for that. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You mentioned the Navy, for example, and we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Governor, how do you feel when you listen to that and the president treating you as a somewhat dim bulb?
ROMNEY: Well, you know, the president has a very different foreign policy than that has been followed by our country over the last 50 or 60 years. His view instead of having a strong American military that's able to keep other nations in check, that we ought to instead put in place a policy based on what he calls common humanity.
Well, humanity is not common in its views. What one people called evil and other people called good. The world relies upon and America must rely upon a strong military.
And, by the way, China understands the importance of a navy. Its navy will be larger than ours within seven years. That's the consequence of the president's policies.
WALLACE: In that same presidential debate, Mr. Obama also made fun of your views on Russia. Let's take a look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Governor Romney, I'm glad that you recognize that al Qaeda is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia. Not al Qaeda. You said Russia. In the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War has been over for 20 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Governor, when you look at Ukraine and the decision not to keep U.S. troops in Iraq and the decision not to arm the rebels in Syria from the start, what do you make of the choices that this president has been making particularly here in the second term?
ROMNEY: Well, I think the president is really out of touch with reality when it comes to what's happening in the world. And I don't know why that is. Perhaps it's political philosophy, it's foreign policy views.
But, look, he looked at Russia and thought that was a friend we should reset relations with. He looked at al Qaeda and said they're on the run. Just more recently, he looked at ISIS and said, oh, they're just the junior varsity. He looks at Iraq and says, hey, they're strong and able to care for themselves.
Look, he is so out of touch with reality that he hasn't taken the action necessary to prevent very bad things from happening.
A strong America that stands up for its beliefs is an America able to defend itself and to defend our principles around the world. When America is seen and the president is seen as being weak, bad people do bad things. And you're seeing that all across the Middle East. You're seeing that was well in other parts of the world, including, of course, Afghanistan, Ukraine, it's a real tragedy.
WALLACE: I want to pick up on another campaign issue, because during the 2012 race you also accused President Obama of covering up the mishandling of the terror attack in Benghazi. This weekend, FOX has been running a documentary in which two special operators -- special security operators told Bret Baier that they were told repeatedly to stand down and not to go rescue the American diplomats at the U.S. consulate.
Here's a clip from that documentary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I can talk about is what happened on the ground that night.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: To you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To us, to myself twice and to Tig once. It happened that night, that happened. We were told to wait and stand down. We were delayed three times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Governor, do you think a Benghazi cover-up is still going on?
ROMNEY: Well, I think this raises a lot of questions. I mean, one, why did the administration talk to these people a long time ago, why were they out there with a story saying the reason for what happened in Benghazi was because of a video which these guys said was total baloney. They knew that from the beginning. How come the administration can't check into that?
And number two, who was it that told these guys to stand down? Were they in contact with people higher up, particularly from the United States? What was the reason they were told to stand down, when they were ready and able to go in and support the security of our people there in the embassy annex? This is -- this goes on and on and on.
We've tried to understand why it is that this administration is unwilling to be transparent. This was a policy they said they would have, which is open transparency, but they've instead not been forthcoming in what's happened there. And that's something which, by the way, doesn't just land at the feet of the president. It lands at the feet of Hillary Clinton as well. She keeps on saying, you know, there's nothing to see here, just move on. Well, people want to understand exactly what happened.
WALLACE: I mentioned at the top of the show the president's 38 percent approval rating now in the Gallup poll, tying an all-time low. In July, they did a poll of voters asking them if they had 2012 all to do over again, how would they vote? You'll be happy to know this time you won 53 percent to 44 percent. Obviously, that doesn't put you in the Oval Office.
But the question I have for you, Governor, is this -- do you think Americans are having buyer's remorse about 2012?
ROMNEY: Oh, I think they have some buyer's remorse about President Obama. I'm not sure how they feel about me. But that's kind of irrelevant.
The real question is, how's this president doing? And, frankly, they recognize the president has not been engaged. The idea that we have a group known as ISIS or ISIL, that we've known about for almost year, where members of Congress have said to the president, prepare for this, get ready for them, make sure they don't make incursions into Iraq. I mean, we've fought long and hard to provide security and freedom for those people.
Yet, the president was too busy on the golf course to pick up the phone and meet with the leaders around the world and to say what happens if? You know, the Pentagon was going through what-if scenarios. But the president apparently wasn't, hasn't developed a strategy.
I don't know whether you can't see reality from a fairway, but the president has not seen the reality internationally and domestically. We've got, what, 92 million people that have stopped looking for work, that are out of work in this country? It's unacceptable.
The American people are struggling, having a hard time. This president's policies, both at home and abroad, are hurting people and people are responding in the way they review him.
WALLACE: I am sure that a bunch of people watching right now are thinking, gee, where was that guy, wasn't he making all of those points in 2012?
But the fact is, if we're going to look back and I want to just for a moment in 2012, you also did make your fair share of mistakes. And here are a few of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
ROMNEY: I brought us whole binders full of women.
I was a severely conservative Republican governor.
I like being able to fire people.
There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
WALLACE: The bottom line among voters who said "cares about people like me" was the most important candidate quality, among those voters, Obama beat you 81 percent to 18.
Governor, why do you think it was that so many people saw you as an unfeeling rich guy and does that perception still bother you?
ROMNEY: Oh, look, I'm much more concerned about what the country's going to be doing going forward. I want to make sure we have a nominee and a lot of terrific Republican individuals that are looking at the race, we have a nominee who can win, and we can get the country back on track, helping the middle class and helping the poor.
WALLACE: But, sir, you're kind of ducking the question, which is: did you contribute to this perception that you don't care about average Americans?
ROMNEY: Oh, there's no question that I and my campaign made some mistakes. I think it's going to be a long time before we see a perfect campaign and a perfect candidate.
Look, I have weaknesses. I don't get every sentence up perfectly. Sometimes I misspeak. That was a parade of horrible (INAUDIBLE) that makes me cringe.
But the reality is that the opposition did a very good job picking up on those mistakes and just beating the heck out of me, and I didn't do as good a job as I wish I would have, describing who I am to the American people.
But look, that's -- you know, that's the past. The future is, how do we make sure that we get a president that spends time running the country, running the government, running the administration in such a way as to help the middle class of this country regain its footing, to help the poor get out of poverty and to protect our interests around the world? This president is not doing it.
WALLACE: Governor, let me -- let me look to the future because voters seem willing to give you another chance. There was a "USA Today" poll just a couple weeks ago of Iowa voters in which you swamped the field there. You had 35 percent. Huckabee was second with 9 percent, and the rest of the field trailed after that. And recently, you gave an interview, and when asked about running again, you gave a whole lot of reasons why not, but then you also said circumstances can change.
Question, what does that mean?
ROMNEY: Well, you know, I spoken on this topic so many times. I don't really have anything new to add, Chris. I'm not running. I'm not planning on running.
I'm going to be supporting our nominee -- hopefully, a strong individual that's able to take our message to the American people and get this country back on track for the people who need help and there are a lot of people who do.
WALLACE: But are you making a Shermanesque comment -- commitment, absolutely will not run; if nominated, will not serve? Or are there circumstances under which you would consider running again?
ROMNEY: Chris, I'm not going to add to the story. I've got nothing new for you. I've spoken at this time and time again.
I'm not running. I'm not planning on running. I'm going to be helping the person who takes the banner for us.
WALLACE: Let me ask you about this a different way. In your heart, do you still think that you would make the best president of all the people out there?
ROMNEY: Look, there's no question in my mind that I think I'd have been a better president than President Obama has been. No question in my mind about that. And there are other good people who I'm sure will be able to lead the country in the future. I wish it were me.
Let me tell you, it was a great experience running for president. I loved that. But my time has come. I had -- come and gone. I had that opportunity. I ran, I didn't win.
And now, it's time for someone else to pick up the baton.
WALLACE: You mentioned Hillary Clinton. Do you think you'd make a better president than Hillary Clinton?
ROMNEY: No question about that in my mind. The American people may disagree with me.
But, look, you've got to get this economy going. You have to have people who understand what it takes to create jobs and to help people come out of poverty, to help the middle class to have a better and prosperous future. You've got to have that understanding.
You've also got to have people who've actually run something. The government of the United States is the largest enterprise in the world. You watched a president who just doesn't understand how to make an administration work, how to interact with Congress, how to get things done. You have to have those things.
I don't think Hillary Clinton has that experience. And I look for instance at her record as secretary of state, look, her record is Barack Obama's record in foreign policy. And it's a disaster.
The president went to Egypt and said we're going to have this new wonderful relationship with the Muslim world, and now, the Middle East is burning. The president won't even call the invasion by Russia into Ukraine an invasion. Look, if you can't -- if you can't speak decisively, you can't be decisive.
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are two peas in the same pod. And the American people have tasted that and have said, look, that's not a good taste. It's not right for the American people.
WALLACE: We've got about two minutes left, and I want to do your old favorite, the lighting round -- quick questions, quick answers.
President Obama now says he's going to delay action on immigration reform until after the election. He says because he needs to explain how he is dealing with the question of the unaccompanied minors coming over the border.
Here's what he said to Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The politics did shift midsummer because of that problem. I want to spend time even as we getting all our ducks in a row for the executive action, I want to make sure the public understands why we're doing this, why it's the right thing for the American people, why it's the right thing for the economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Briefly, Governor, what's going on there?
ROMNEY: Well, he should spend less time on the golf course and more time thinking about ISIS and Ukraine and in this case immigration. He should follow the law and work with Congress instead of trying to do things unilaterally.
What's happening, of course, is cynical and political.
WALLACE: Cynical and political in what sense? Putting it off until after the election?
ROMNEY: Yes, the president is saying, look, I'm going to violate the law after the election when what I do won't have serious electoral consequences.
He's basically saying he's going to do something the American people won't like and he wants to make sure to do it after the midterms when it won't have consequence for him. WALLACE: And, finally, about a minute left, sir. In 2012, you had Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell on your short list of potential running mates. As you well know, he was convicted this week of taking bribes, some even before you were considering him as a running mate to help a businessman.
I guess two questions, what does that say about your vetting process? And, frankly, did you misjudge Bob McDonnell?
ROMNEY: Well, I'm not going to say anything about the vetting process. We communicated to all the individuals that we vetted that that would be completely off the record and confidential and it is.
But I can say this, with regards to Bob McDonnell, which I'm very sorry for him and for his family. It's a family tragedy obviously and a political tragedy for the state of Virginia, commonwealth of Virginia, for the people there, for the people associated with him. I've called him, I've expressed my sympathy. It's a very sad setting.
And I wish he and his family the very best in very difficult circumstances.
WALLACE: Governor Romney, thank you. Thanks for coming in today. Always good to talk with you, sir.
ROMNEY: Thanks, Chris. Good to be with you.
WALLACE: So, what do you think about Mitt Romney especially after that interview? Is he the GOP's best chance to win back the White House? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday and use the #FNS.
Up next, how serious a threat is ISIS to the U.S. homeland? We'll talk with key leaders from the House and Senate, next.
WALLACE: President Obama announced at this week's NATO Summit that nine nations have joined the U.S. in the fight against ISIS. But is there a real plan to destroy the group that calls itself the Islamic State?
Joining us now, the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, Michael McCaul, and the head of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez.
Gentlemen, before we get to foreign policy, I want to pick up on what I was just discussing with Governor Romney. President Obama has decided to delay any executive action on delaying the deportation of millions of illegals until after the November elections.
Senator Menendez, let me start with you. Are you disappointed with the delay and isn't this all about politics and the fact that a bunch of red state senators that are seeking reelection, Democratic senators seeking reelection didn't want this before the November election? MENENDEZ: Well, Chris, the red state senators already voted, I think most of them voted in favor of comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform. So they're on the record on that. I don't think --
WALLACE: Yes. But they're not on the record on executive action, sir.
MENENDEZ: Well, that's what the focus is, is more about the question of executive action. Yes, I'm deeply disappointed that the president hasn't acted where House Republicans have failed to act. This was sent over to them over a year ago, with a strong bipartisan vote in the Senate.
But, look, Republicans are on the wrong side of the inevitable tide of history here. I think you could ask your previous guest, Mitt Romney, how it's impossible for Republicans to have a road to the White House without embracing immigration reform and the immigrant communities.
WALLACE: Chairman McCaul, some of your fellow Republicans are saying, look, the president still wants to go around the law, he's just going to wait until after November when voters can no longer them accountable.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX), CHAIRMAN, HOMELAND SECURITY CMTE: Well, I think it's totally politically calculated. He's made this determination that if he gets out in front on this issue, it will hurt seven to eight Senate races and he could potentially lose the Senate. I think Harry Reid has sent that message clearly to the president, which is why I think you've seen him back off of this position.
So I think it's nothing more than raw politics and the idea of amnesty by executive action, I think the House Republicans does not sit well.
WALLACE: Let's turn, gentlemen, to ISIS and the threat from ISIS to the U.S. homeland. Chairman McCaul, there's been a lot of talk about Americans, maybe as many as a hundred who have left the United States, gone over to the Middle East and are fighting alongside ISIS. How concerned are you about them coming home and conducting terrorist attacks, and especially as we approach this week, the 13th anniversary of 9/11?
MCCAUL: I'm extremely concerned about this problem. I know intelligence officials, homeland security officials are concerned about this. We've had two "be on the lookout" notices that have already gone out by the FBI and homeland security officials.
I think the biggest concern, Chris, is what you outline, and that is, we have somewhere between a hundred to 200 Americans that have left the United States to go over there. We have tens of thousands of foreign fighters, many with Western passports that can get legally into Western Europe and many into the United States of America. And I think that's a threat. You don't know what you don't know. And as we approach the anniversary of 9/11 -- anniversaries mean a lot to al Qaeda. We know in the bin Laden compound, they had -- he had plans to attack on the 10th anniversary. So, I think we're going to be on a very high state of vigilance. I do think the threat is very real. But the best way to deal with this threat is to take out ISIS where they exist today and that's not just Iraq. That's also in Syria.
WALLACE: I'm going to get to that in a moment if I may. But let's bring in Senator Menendez on the threat to the homeland.
The Brits increase the security level to severe because of all the foreign fighters, including many with -- hundreds with British passports and the threat that they might come home.
Are you worried about Americans or Westerners who can get into this country, especially as we look ahead to this 9/11 anniversary, Senator?
MENENDEZ: Well, Chris, as someone who lost over 700 citizens on September 11th from New Jersey, I'm always concerned. ISIS is a savage terrorist organization that has to be defeated before they can create the operational wherewithal to conduct a September 11th-like tragedy. And so, we have to use all of our intelligence to make sure that those who hold U.S. passports or those from European countries that have easier access into the United States, can be that thwarted before they income come here and/or are reviewed to make sure that they don't become a threat here on the homeland.
And at the same time, we have to strike at ISIS and make sure that they cannot become the threat that we lived under September 11th, 13 years ago.
WALLACE: OK. Let's pick up on that. President Obama I think you both agree had several stumbles on describing ISIS. First, he had no strategy. And then, he talked about shrinking it to a manageable problem.
After the NATO summit, he came up with this formulation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to achieve our goal. We are going to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But there is still no plan to hit ISIS in its base of operations in Syria. We still don't know what the nine other countries in the coalition are going to do. Chairman McCaul, does the president have a strategy now?
MCCAUL: Well, I think, as you pointed out, the mixed messages coming out of the White House has been very confusing, and I think, dangerous to American lives. I don't still know what the clearly defined strategy is. As chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dempsey, said, to defeat ISIS, you have to defeat them where they exist and where their command and structure is. And that is in Syria.
But he seems to be staying, back off from that. And his policy so far has been a policy of containment, not of defeat. To obtain that objective, I do believe you have to go into Syria.
Now, the president's going to talk to the American people on Wednesday. I hope that he expands this into Syria where ISIS is strongest. And I do think he needs to go to the Congress to update the authorized use of military force to get the additional authorities against ISIS and into Syria.
WALLACE: Let me bring Senator Menendez into this.
As just been pointed out, still no plan to launch air strikes against ISIS in Syria. When it comes to the ground game, we're back to talking about the long-forgotten, much neglected moderate Syrian rebels.
Senator, are you satisfied that this president now has a coherent plan to destroy ISIS?
MENENDEZ: I think that what he said at the beginning, I think he misspoke. What he really said was he hadn't decided on the strategy yet.
But, look, I see a developing strategy here. I see a combination of air and drone strikes against ISIS' leaders, targets and positions. I see a coalition that is developing out of NATO. I see moderate countries that are aligning with us like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, contributing to the efforts. I see the ability to have Iraqi army and Peshmerga deal on the ground, with the successes of air strikes as it relates to ISIS targets in Iraq.
And then, of course, you have to, as I call for them, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has called for for sometime, to robustly help the moderate rebels to take over the ground for airstrikes in Syria.
I do see that coming together. And I think when the president speaks to the country on Wednesday and the subsequent follow-up that will come before the Congress, we are clearly headed to a strategy that will defeat ISIS.
WALLACE: Gentlemen, we have about two minutes left and I want you to share it evenly, because I want talk about Ukraine where there's now a cease-fire but a cease-fire that leaves the pro-Russian separatists in control of large swaths of Eastern Ukraine. President Obama said he's skeptical about the cease-fire but he also seemed to, in a sense, see it as a victory for NATO. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The only reason that we're seeing the cease-fire at this moment is because of both the sanctions that have already been applied and the threat of further sanctions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Chairman McCaul, who's won here, the U.S. and NATO, or Putin and Russia?
MCCAUL: I think long-term Putin is winning. I think weakness invites aggression. That's what you're seeing. I think Senator Menendez has called this an invasion and I agree with that.
The Crimea example is I think the model here that Putin -- if you look at long-term strategy, what is he trying to accomplish, I believe in targeting Russian-speaking peoples across not only Ukraine but the Baltic nations is a policy to regain the glory days of the old Soviet empire.
With respect to the cease-fire -- yes, we're all very hopeful. But the problem is, even this morning now, you had air strikes that have basically violated that cease-fire agreement.
So, I think we're dealing with a very dangerous force here. And I don't think until NATO and the United States leads and actually arms Ukraine with lethal weapons are you going to see Putin really backing off.
WALLACE: Well, Senator Menendez, you're just back from the region as Congressman McCaul point the out. You have called it an invasion even if the administration hasn't. You have called for sending military weapons to Ukraine, even though the administration hasn't.
Are you satisfied with a cease-fire that leaves the separatists in control of broad swaths of territory in eastern Ukraine?
MENENDEZ: Absolutely not. Look, until Russia returns its thousands of forces and tanks and military equipment back over the border into Russia and there is a border that is secured hopefully with international observers, and Ukraine's territorial sovereignty is retained, there is not a solution. This is a temporary pause.
And we have to take Putin's calculations and show him he's wrong -- which means that the sanctions being considered beyond what we've done by both the E.U. and the United States should take place, should move forward. And, secondly, that we should give the Ukrainians the ability to fight for themselves. That will change Putin's calculations.
WALLACE: Senator Menendez, Congressman McCaul, we want to thank you both so much. Thanks for talking with us today, gentlemen.
MENENDEZ: Good to be with you.
WALLACE: Up next, White House officials say they've put together a coalition to fight ISIS, but do they have a plan? Our Sunday group joins the conversation.
Plus, do you have a question for the panel? Just go to Facebook or Twitter and Fox News Sunday, and we may use your question on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: We don't retreat. We don't forget. We take care of those who are grieving and when that's finished, they should know we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Vice President Joe Biden talking very tough about ISIS, even as the Obama administration struggles to develop a battle plan. And it's time now for our Sunday group. We welcome back Brit Hume, Fox News senior political analyst, Julie Pace who covers the White House for the Associated Press, syndicated columnist George Will and Bob Woodward from "The Washington Post. Well, Julie, first, well, I hope you've recovered from the NATO summit.
JULIE PACE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: I'm getting there.
WALLACE: OK. Good.
WALLACE: For all the talk there about building an international coalition, has President Obama made any of the really hard decisions yet about going after ISIS inside Syria?
JULIE PACE: Inside Syria, it doesn't appear as though he has. Most of the conversation continues to focus on going after ISIS in Iraq. And when you hear from the members of the so called coalition, that they are putting together, they also talk about going after ISIS in Iraq. I think we have to watch, though, is how they define that because the border between Iraq in Syria is so blurred at this point that you could make an argument that you actually could take strikes (ph) inside Syria and still have it fall under this broader umbrella of Iraq. The coalition is coming together, but it still is unclear what that coalition will do. And I think there's a lot of unanswered questions that the president probably hasn't made a lot of decisions.
WALLACE: Now, the president is going to -- we've been hearing, is going to make a speech to the nation in the sense of a primetime speech on Wednesday. Do you expect much there?
PACE: Basically, this speech is meant to say to the public, here's what we've done so far over the last month of airstrikes in Iraq, here's what we see the threat and here's what I expect going forward. But I would not anticipate that he's going to outline a military plan.
WALLACE: Oh. There's that.
(LAUGHTER) WALLACE: Brit, the president in developing a military plan seems hamstrung by the own limits that he's put on himself. He's not at all ...
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly right. Because what this president seems to do is kind of the reverse of what you would expect. He doesn't decide on a goal or an objective and then decide on the means to achieve that objective. He decides on the means first. Principally, the means he will not use. For example, we have no American troops on the ground, boots on the ground, as everyone now calls it, apparently in either place, except for the Special Forces and some limited number in Iraq. Certainly not in Syria. So that's off the table. He must have a coalition of a certain size. We're not quite sure how big or small it has to be, but -- and they have to make a certain level of contribution. Then having decided that, he then sets a goal that fits with those means, which is upside down.
And in the case of ISIS, may not be enough to get the job done. Now, you hear it said by some, well, look, if we can't develop a coalition of people who certainly ought to be willing to contribute enough, we shouldn't do it. But the problem is, can we afford not to? Does ISIS either now or in the near future pose a threat to the United States that it must be taken out to avoid that no matter what, as far as the size of the coalition and if it takes ground troops you have to do it.
WALLACE: Bob, if you want to talk about ISIS, go ahead, but I also want to turn to Ukraine and the ceasefire that, as I pointed out with the chairman and -- of both committees leaves the separatists in control of much of Eastern Europe. And the president although he says he's skeptical is saying well, we wouldn't have gotten them this far without the sanctions. I don't know, am I wrong in thinking that Putin has achieved a lot of what he wanted to achieve and we've achieved very little?
BOB WOODWARD, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, you kind of have to start with how Obama looks at the world. And he hates war. He's made it very clear, he doesn't want another war. And so, there's a mindset here, which I don't know how you describe it, kind of a humble super power, and I don't think he fully understands -- and military people say this -- the deterrent power that the U.S. military has. So he kind of goes around and he says, Brit's right, no boots on the ground. And, you know, does that scare Putin? You know, Putin's saying, oh, no boots on the ground, good, that makes it easier for me. At the same time, I think this -- what's happened with ISIS is a little different. This is a hate group. Obama's view is gee, I kind of want to deal with people of good will. These are people not of good will. And so, he's going to have to develop something and there's no hurry up strategy. You can't do this overnight and I think he's made that clear.
WALLACE: But what about the argument that it's not like ISIS just appeared on the stage as the Lakers JV last week or when they took over Mosul in June. I mean they've been around for a while. And why is the president developing this coalition now? Why wasn't he developing it six months or a year ago?
WOODWARD: Well, that's a good question. But, you know, a lot of people are talking, let's bomb in Syria. Well, that is not something you can just do overnight. Syria is a country with an air defense system. You talk to the people in the Pentagon and they'll say, look, it's degraded, the air defense system, but it's substantial. So you'd have to have days of trying to take out that air defense system before we went to bombing. So slowing this process down is right. You can't work on impulse here.
WALLACE: We ask you for questions for the panel and we got this on Facebook from Tom Bordigon. He writes, "Destroy, manage, rollback, dismantle, huh, what? Say what you mean and mean what you say." George is our arbiter on clarity of language. How do you think President Obama is doing when it comes to all of these issues?
GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think he's actually communicated his reluctance quite clearly. He has not communicated that reluctance is national policy to people like Mr. Dempsey and others, General Dempsey has said that we must do more. And where this is a danger, I think is with regard to the Ukraine. Putin's first negotiating point, the negotiating in Ukraine is that Kiev, the capital of the government of Ukraine must stop offensive operations. Now, think about that. Defensive operations within their own country. So, he is saying we will begin to negotiate when we have in place the borders that we have now established, as he's hived off Crimea, now he's going to hive off a little more of eastern Ukraine, and he's going to take as much as he want. And the president was really clear in Estonia when he said that the capitals of Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius are just as important to us as Berlin, Paris, and London. Question is, does anyone believe that? Does Putin believe that if he attacks NATO members in the Baltic States that we would put at risk Berlin, Paris, London and Chicago? It's an old Cold War equation, but it's relevant again.
WALLACE: Do they feel -- Julie, we've got less than a minute left. But do they feel like they have just been terribly misunderstand or do some when they are talking to (INAUDIBLE), at least some White House officials say, hey, the boss contributed to this?
PACE: I think that they go back to this notion that the way that the U.S. is viewed overseas is different than the way maybe we look at our own role in the world here in the U.S. Where there's so much talk about a diminished American role. When Obama goes overseas, they say he talks to European leaders, they're craving for American leadership, American commitment and without that, no one else would move. So, I think they get frustrated. I think that they understand that particularly with the Islamic State that maybe some of the president's rhetoric hasn't been quite spot on. But in general, they feel pretty comfortable with where they are.
WILL: People say Putin's unpredictable. And he's very predictable. I hope people notice this week at the White House, that he recently said, you know, Kazakhstan is not a real country. They're next.
WALLACE: They are next. All right. No trips to Kazakhstan. Then we have to take a break here. Now this programming note, tune in tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on Fox News channel for the special Fox News reporting 13 hours of Benghazi hosted by Bret Baier. Is this the smoking gun in the scandal over the Benghazi terror attack? Up next, the politics of ISIS and immigration as President Obama faces growing pressure from his own party.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS SENATOR: It is a threat to the world. And we need to be working with others to close ISIS down, to end ISIS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Even liberal Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren seemed to be losing patients this week with President Obama's Hamlet Act about whether to go after ISIS in Syria. And we are back now with the panel. Bob, I want to talk to you about a line in your book, "The Price of Politics," in which you write this up on the screen, "Presidents work their will or should work their will on the important matter of national business. Obama has not. When you have liberal senators like Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, telling the president he needs to toughen up, I guess the question is what is Obama's problem?
WOODWARD: Well, he's got to engage in the process. And he is not engaged in a way that doesn't ...
WALLACE: What does that mean, not engaged?
WOODWARD: That means, for instance, on Tuesday, I think that he's going to have the congressional leaders down to the White House. Is it going to be one of these paid by numbers, meetings where everyone states their point of view and the meeting lasts an hour, or maybe two hours? And this is -- he needs to have some head to head discussions with people. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, put out a statement just recently saying he welcomes this meeting, he thinks -- I mean, it was very conciliatory they're going to listen, but you can't do it in an hour or two hours.
WALLACE: And why do you think this president seems so reluctant to do that? Is it that he's above that?
WOODWARD: I think he doesn't -- he thinks he's got the right track. And, you know, we learn in our business that whenever we get something right, it's because we listened. The president needs to learn to listen. These people have points of view and there are ways to work -- I mean, just he won't do a deal on lots of things. This is something -- this is a serious ISIS, serious national security threat. Talk to the Intel people and they are trembling about it. And so it's not something you can just do all by yourself. You need to get the Congress and you need to get the public involved.
WALLACE: The videos of those two beheadings of American journalists seemed to have galvanized most Americans that we have to kill ISIS before ISIS kills us. And we just heard from Elizabeth Warren. George, I guess the question is why does the president seem to be so out of step with this growing sentiment? When you start getting the dovish of doves, the dovest of doves, why is the president digging in his hills about kill ISIS?
WILL: Elizabeth Warren represents the one state that George McGovern carried in 1972. The president is resisting this because he believes it, that he believes he's right. He believes he wasn't elected to get us into war as he was elected to get us out of war. I think (ph) that's the end of it. That's not a very complicated view of the world, but it is. The question, I think, that has terrified Democrats is this. When the Democratic Party fractured telegenically? 1968 convention, four years later nominated McGovern who lost 49 states. From then until the end of the Cold War, they had a foreign policy disadvantage, sort of deficit in the public understanding. I think a lot of Democrats are worried that it's coming back now. That indeed, history has returned, foreign policy has been forced upon their national agenda, and the Democrats are again at a familiar disadvantage.
WALLACE: All right. Then there's immigration. And it was this president who went to the Rose Garden on June 30th of this year. And talked about, there he is, talked about how he wanted recommendations for executive action to delay the deportation of millions of illegals by the end of the summer. Well, Labor Day is coming. Now, he's going to delay this until after the election. The question I guess I have, Julie, as it seems to me he's got the worst of both worlds. He's ticked off the immigration advocates, who say it's another case of him promising, but not delivering, and then you have got the conservatives who say he's going to do it anyway. He's going to break the law. He just wants to wait till after the election they can hold him accountable.
PACE: Right. They're in a bit of a mess here. I don't think they've made anybody happy with this. They argue that the reason for the change in position here is that the politics changed over the summer. They look at this now and say ...
WALLACE: Because of the flood of the unaccompanied ...
PACE: Because of the flood of unaccompanied minors at the border. Because Senate Democrats who are running in tough races are under more political pressure. And they say if they act now and those Democrats lose, it will taint immigration reform efforts for years to come. It will be politically poisonous for anyone to take this on. The problem that advocates have with this is they say there will never be a good time to act on immigration reform, and this is an argument the White House themselves have been making to Republicans for the past two years, that you have to just do the right thing. And now we see the White House taking an action that, you know, appears to be quite politically motivated and then also angered their own base.
WALLACE: Brit, you know, Republicans have certainly had their own problems with immigration. But it seems to me that this is creating a really terrible situation. Because now Republicans will be able to say, well, it's not just that he did this, it's what could he do when they can put out there anything they want. And it makes them an open political issue rather than a settled issue?
HUME: That's true. But it's what -- nonetheless, I think in political terms, the administration thinks it would be better for the vulnerable Democrats up for reelection this year or up for election in some cases, not to have this out there inflaming the base of the Republican Party and turning people out to vote in the red states where a number of them are running. So that's the reason he did that. I think that that same motivation affected his statements at least on ISIS. Here he was, you know, trying to diminish the goal to meet his means, as I mentioned earlier. And that's where, that's where that statement about, you know, we're going to reduce the threat to a manageable level came from. Then, you know, he's being deserted right and left. OK, Hagan for reelection in North Carolina. She bails -- they're bailing all over the place. Elizabeth Warren was the most conspicuous example, although she's not in trouble with fall, reelection this fall. But that's why he changed the stated goal. I think he did it for purely domestic political reasons.
WOODWARD: It's certainly politics. But what's interesting is, how out of touch the White House is with the Senate Democrats. You could have found this out before the June 30th statement that this would be a nightmare. And if there was -- you know, they're in the same party. They need to work together. And one of the untold stories here is the alienation between Obama and Senate Democrats. And they meet and they talk, but you talk to people who are there and they say there isn't much communication.
WALLACE: You know, and George, we have less than a minute left. You may not get the full fury of the opponents because you haven't taken this executive action. On the other hand, you don't get the support of the base of the Hispanics and the pro-immigrant reform people who now rather than thinking well, I'm going to go out and vote for this candidate wherever because of what they've done. You know, once again, they gave us the back of their hands.
WILL: Which matters because off year elections are turnout elections. Who can mobilize their base, the Republican base is mobilized by Barack Obama and by the Affordable Care Act and all the rest. He passed up a chance to inflame his base.
WALLACE: Here you go. Thank you panel. See you next Sunday. Up next, our power player of the week. Washington's golden girl.
WALLACE: Our politicians may disappoint, and our sports teams are up and down, but Washington does have one true champion. Here is our power player of the week.
KATIE LEDECKY, 2012 OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Wake up at 4:15, practice from 5 to 6:30. Go to school.
WALLACE: Katie Ledecky is discussing her daily schedule. A regimen that has made her arguably the best swimmer in the world. She has no thoughts of slowing down.
WALLACE (on camera): Is that ever too much?
LEDECKY: No, I've gotten used to it. I think. The swimming has helped my school work and the school day always helps my swimming, so it goes both ways, I guess.
WALLACE (voice over): It certainly seems to be working.
It certainly seems to be working.
(on camera): What world records do you now hold?
LEDECKY: The 400 free, the 800 free and the 1,500 free.
WALLACE: That's all.
LEDECKY: Yeah. I've broke them a few times.
WALLACE (voice over): Meanwhile, the 17-year old has just started her senior year at Stone Ridge, a tough private school outside Washington.
(on camera): How tough is it to be a normal teenager?
LEDECKY: It's not tough at all. It's been a lot of fun these past couple of years. Just swimming and going to school.
WALLACE: Is there any time for boys?
LEDECKY: No, I don't have a boyfriend and I never have.
WALLACE (voice over): Katie started swimming competitively at six. Her enthusiasm stronger than her form. But by the time she was eight, she was starting to win.
LEDECKY: You can improve that time and that's a result of what you do every day in practice. I think you can really see the correlation. WALLACE (on camera): Numbers don't lie.
LEDECKY: Exactly. Numbers don't lie. And they don't -- they show what you do in practice. And I like that aspect of it.
WALLACE (voice over): In 2012 at age 15 she made the Olympic team. But she was no favorite.
LEDECKY: I would have been happy if I got first or last. I was just really grateful to be at the Olympics. And I didn't have many expectations for myself.
WALLACE (on camera): And what happened?
LEDECKY: I won. It was a surreal night. And this is the 2012 Olympic Gold in the 800.
WALLACE: May I? It is gorgeous isn't it?
LEDECKY: Thanks. Yeah, it's ....
WALLACE: I mean that's ...
LEDECKY: It's a nice keepsake.
WALLACE (voice over): Last month, the keepsake got some company. Five more gold medals from the Panpacific Championships. Now Katie is back in training focusing on the 2016 Olympics.
LEDECKY: I think it's more of time goals rather than I have to make this meet or I have to get these medals.
WALLACE (voice over): So if you met your time goal and finished third, would you be happy or disappointed?
LEDECKY: I would be happy. You can't control what other people are going to do. But I try to set my time goals so that it will put me up there, put me in contention for a medal.
WALLACE: There's one way Katie isn't a normal teenager. While most seniors are sweating out where they'll go to college, Katie has already been accepted at Stanford, but she may take a year off to get ready for the Olympics. And that's it for today. Have a great week, and we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."
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On the Show
We’ll speak to Joel Benenson-- Hillary Clinton’s Chief Strategist about her VP pick-- and get a preview of the convention.
Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort-- on how they plan to carry over the post convention momentum into the general election.