Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee joins Fox News Sunday this week to discuss ObamaCare, the dysfunction in Washington, and the upcoming elections in 2014 and 2016. Plus, Chris asks the Governor about his "keeping the door open" on 2016.
Reps. Clyburn, McMorris Rodgers, Sens. Paul, Coons React to Arizona Rampage
Written by Bret Baier / Published January 09, 2011 / Fox News Sunday
Special Guests: Rep. James Clyburn, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Chris Coons
The following is a rush transcript of the January 9, 2010, edition of "Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: This was the scene Saturday morning at a grocery store in Tucson, Arizona, where a gunman shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in a small crowd of constituents, killing six and wounding 12 others.
I'm Bret Baier, in for Chris Wallace. And this is "Fox News Sunday," where we are following that major developing story out west. Here in Washington, authorities were already on edge over several incendiary devices found in the mail at the end of the week, and security was already tighter after increased chatter from terrorist groups overseas.
Now this. Here is the latest from Arizona. Congresswoman Giffords is in critical condition after a bullet passed through her head. Arizona's chief federal judge, John Roll, one of Giffords' Arizona staff members and a nine-year-old girl are among the dead.
One suspect, identified by authorities as 22-year-old Jared Loughner, was arrested, and a second man is being sought. For more on this story, we turn now to Carl Cameron on Capitol Hill, and Trace Gallagher in Tucson. Trace?
TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS: Good morning, Bret. We're outside the University Medical Center where Gabrielle Giffords, the congresswoman, remains in the intensive care unit. She is in critical condition, but doctors are still very optimistic about her survival.
The bullet, as you said, passed through her head, but it did strike part of her brain. And even though she is responding to commands, medical experts say that does not rule out the possibility of long-term damage. We have also learned that Gabrielle Giffords was the intended target of this attack.
In all, 19 people were shot, six of them killed, including Federal Judge John Roll, who we just learned attended this event and decided to attend it just an hour before it started. A nine-year-old girl, Christina Greene, was also killed. She was brought to the event by her neighbor.
Thirteen others wounded. Here is a witness who describes what he heard and saw. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOWELL STADELMAN, WITNESS: I didn't think he was a novice gunman. The way that he was shooting, the consistency of his fire, and the accuracy and the lethality, getting the head shots in -- he had been to the range a few times. I would say this was a planned event.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GALLAGHER: We are also getting a lot more information about the suspect, 22-year-old Jared Loughner. He is now being held by the FBI. Pima County Sheriff says he has a troubled past. We have learned that he dropped out of high school, that he was kicked out of a community college, and told he could not come back without a mental evaluation.
We have said many times he posted these anti-government rants on the Internet. And now he is being investigated for possible ties to a group called American Renaissance. That apparently is an anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-Semitic group. Gabrielle Giffords is Jewish.
And there is information now about a potential second suspect, a person of interest who may have been in the Safeway with Jared Loughner before the shooting happened. Police now looking for a man in his 40s to 50s, a white male with dark hair, who was last seen wearing blue jeans and a dark jacket. And Jared Loughner, by the way, today, Bret, will be arraigned, 11:00 here in Tucson.
BAIER: Trace Gallagher reporting from Tucson. Thank you. For reaction from Washington, we turn now to Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron on Capitol Hill.
CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS: Hi, Bret. Within hours of this unprecedented attack on a member of Congress, Gabrielle Giffords and others, at a very public political forum, President Obama addressed the nation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: She is currently in a hospital in the area. And she is battling for her life. We also know that at least five people lost their lives in this tragedy. Among them were a federal judge John Roll, who has served America's legal system for almost 40 years, and a young girl who was barely nine years old.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMERON: Almost immediately, the president ordered FBI Director Bob Mueller to Tucson to head up a massive national investigation. He contacted Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and members of both the Republican and Democratic congressional leadership.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF.: Our prayers and thoughts are with all of them, all of their families. Congresswoman Giffords is a great patriotic American, a representative of Congress of a new generation of leaders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMERON: Giffords has a reputation as a centrist Democrat. She was one of 19 House democrats who actually voted against Nancy Pelosi as speaker just last week. She a pro-Second Amendment gun owner. And she gave her last interview to Fox News just Friday before the attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS, D-ARIZ.: You know, actually, as a former Republican, I -- you know, I consider myself somebody who is pretty in the middle, a Blue Dog Democrat, and one that is interested in making sure that our country maintains our prosperity, and frankly, our superiority over other countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMERON: The new House Speaker John Boehner issued a statement saying, in part, "an attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve." President Obama noted that the horror of this attack took place at that most American of political forums, the town hall style meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Gabby was doing what she always does: listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors. That is the essence of what our democracy is all about. That is why this is more than a tragedy for those involved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMERON: And just moments ago, from Westchester Township, Ohio, House Speaker John Boehner had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO: This inhuman act should not and will not deter us from our calling, to represent our constituents and to fulfill our oaths of office. No act, no matter how heinous, must be allowed to stop us from our duty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMERON: House Republicans have decided to postpone this week's planned vote to repeal the health care law. There is a conference call planned this afternoon for House Democrats and Republicans, and their spouses to talk about this. The sergeant at arms and the Capital Police are urging all members of the Capital community to be ever-vigilant in their security. Some members are calling for security increase for members of Congress.
The debate is underway in full, Bret.
BAIER: Carl Cameron reporting from Capitol Hill, thank you.
So what is next? For answers, we turn to two Congressional leaders. Democratic Congressman James Clyburn comes to us from South Carolina, and Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who is with us here. Thank you both for being here.
Your reaction first to the shooting, and what it means potentially for Washington? Representative Rodgers, we start with you.
REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS, R-WASH.: It's a terrible tragedy. Like everyone, I was shocked when I heard the news. It's still hard for me to get my arms around what has actually happened in Arizona, with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords doing what we all do on a regular basis, go home to our districts, meet with the people we represent. It's such an important part of the process of being a representative in Congress.
My heart goes out to her and her family, as well as all of the other victims. America is standing behind them and ready to do whatever we can to be helpful to them.
BAIER: Federal Judge John Roll lost his life in this.
RODGERS: Yes, and just stopped by to say hi to Gabrielle. It's such a tragedy on a number of fronts. A nine-year-old girl, who just had been elected in her student council and wanted to meet an elected official. It's shocking to all of us. And we're all trying to get our arms around it and know the best way to respond.
BAIER: Congressman Clyburn?
REP. JAMES CLYBURN, D-S.C.: Thank you so much for having me. First of all, I would hope that all of us would follow the advice of President Obama, and use this day to pray for those victims, pray for those who are trying to recover, and keep Gabby in our thoughts and prayers.
Gabby is a good friend. I met her back in 2006. I spent two days campaigning with her. We have worked very closely together on legislation involving NASA. As you know, her husband and his twin brother are astronauts. And, of course, I represent the district that NASA administrator Charles Bowden grew up in.
So we have been working very closely together on the NASA legislation, as you know. We are having some real funding problems with NASA, so I've gotten know her very, very well. And to see something like this happen to such a conscientious, outgoing, passionate legislator causes me great pause.
But we're living in a time that all of us should begin to take stock of how our words affect people, especially those who aren't very stable.
BAIER: Some of your colleagues, Congressman Clyburn, are already speaking out, expressing concern about security for members of Congress. Representative Raul Grijalva from Arizona, a Democrat, calling on Congress to beef up individual security for all members. Republican Jason Chaffetz from Utah said "lawmakers and aides work in the most wildly held terrorists target in the world." He said he's concerned about his family at home.
Representative Maxine Waters of California said about lawmakers, quote, "we're vulnerable and there is no real way to protect us."
Is there a need to provide better safety and security for all members of Congress? Congressman Clyburn?
CLYBURN: Well, I think so.
CLYBURN: I have -- I really feel strongly that we all to take a look at our MSA accounts. And rather than cut, cut, cut, we ought to look at whether or not we may need to beef up the funding for individual accounts, so that Congress people can work with their state and local law enforcement officers. I want to thank the state law enforcement division here in South Carolina for reaching out to me and my family yesterday, and the mayor of Columbia, Mayor Benjamin called last night.
I noticed that in my neighborhood, and in front of my house, there was additional security. But I do believe that they can supplement. They cannot substitute. So I think we need to take a hard look at even how members go through airports.
I really believe that that is the place where we feel the most ill-at ease, going through airports. TSA, I think, needs to begin to interact with our Capitol Hill Police better. We have had some incidents where TSA Authorities think that Congress people should be treated like everybody else. The fact of the matter is we are held to a higher standard in so many other areas, and I think we need to take a hard look at exactly how the TSA interact with members of Congress.
BAIER: I guess the question, first of all, are you for increasing security, congresswoman? And will this one tragic event change how elected officials interact with their constituents?
RODGERS: We need to make sure we are smart and we respond appropriately to this incident. I am concerned about putting up more walls between myself and the people that I represent. I make it a priority to respond to the e-mails, to the telephone calls, have the town hall meetings, because it's fundamental to our representative government that people feel they can interact with us and their voices are heard throughout the process.
I want to make sure that we're looking at it and that we're making an appropriate response, that we as members are being smart in our interactions. And the Capitol Police, they do a great job.
BAIER: Are you worried about your security?
RODGERS: I feel that the Capitol Police do a great job of warning us, of helping us and our staff be smart when we're out in the district. There has been different times when they might advise us to take certain steps. I'm going to lean on them to continue to advise us.
BAIER: Congresswoman, you're in the Republican leadership. Last night, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor put out a statement saying, "all legislation currently scheduled to be considered by the House of Representatives next week is being postponed so we can take whatever actions may be necessary in light of the tragedy."
Of course, the House was scheduled to vote on the repeal of the health care law on Wednesday. What was behind this decision?
RODGERS: In light of yesterday's tragedy, our focus has changed, the focus of Congress, as well as the focus of millions of Americans all across this country. We're focused on what happened in Arizona. And we need to make sure that we are responding appropriately to that tragedy before we get involved in the legislative business of Congress.
BAIER: How would you respond to somebody who might say well, that means the bad guys won? The wackos won. By this one violent incident, they've been able to change the legislative agenda for the 112th Congress?
RODGERS: We are just taking some more time. The repeal of health care is a top priority for the new majority in Congress. We believe that that the bill needs to be repealed and replaced with a much better approach to ensuring that we have quality and affordable health care in this country. And that continues to be a high priority for the House Republicans and the new majority.
We're just going to wait and make sure that we're responding appropriately to the current situation.
BAIER: Is it because of some of the threats previously have been tied or centered around health care?
RODGERS: I think it's just that we need some more time to make sure that Congress is focused on what happened yesterday, rather than -- you know, I think all of our thoughts and our minds are elsewhere right now. And we just need to have some more time.
BAIER: OK. Congressman Clyburn, what, if anything, does this attack say about the political discourse in the U.S.?
CLYBURN: I think it says a lot. I think the mayor -- I'm sorry -- the sheriff out there in Tucson, I think he's got it right. Words do have consequences. And I think that we have to really -- this is nothing new. I've been saying this for a long time now. We're getting ready to celebrate, this weekend, the birthday of Martin Luther King Junior, who admonished us that we are going to regret in this generation not just for the vitriolic words and deeds of bad people, but for the appalling silence of good people.
And I think that what has happened here is the vitriol has gotten so elevated until people feel emboldened by this. And people are a little less than stable. And people aren't thinking for themselves, or so easily influenced, they go out and do things that all of us pay a great price for. I want to applaud the Republican leadership for doing what they've done in this instance, to give everybody a chance to step back and take a hard look at this, and decide how we go forward.
BAIER: Sorry for interrupting there. As you know, Tea Party groups vigorously condemned this attack, calling it heinous. This is from Justin Phillips, the co-founder of one of the groups, Tea Party Nation: "at a time like this, it is terrible that we do have to think about politics. No matter what the shooter's motivations were, the left is going to blame this on the Tea Party movement. While we need to take a moment to extend our sympathies to the families of those who died, we cannot allow the hard left to do what it tried to do in 1995 after the Oklahoma City Bombing. Within the entire political spectrum, there are extremists, both on the left and the right. Violence of this nature should be decried by everyone, and not used for political gain."
How do you respond to that, sir?
CLYBURN: Well, I will say this to the gentleman that wrote that: the fact of the matter is we just came out of an election. We saw a candidate for the United States Senate saying that if you can't get what you want at the ballot box, let's seek Second Amendment remedies. What does that mean?
That is a very vitriolic statement and I think someone is responsible for speaking up, denouncing that kind of stuff. If you don't denounce it, people keep ratcheting it up and people get to the point where you cross the line. And I think in this instance, this issue has crossed the line.
And I believe that those of us who are in responsible positions owe it to the country, and owe it to ourselves, owe it to this great institution that we call the United States Congress to speak out against this kind of rhetoric, because if we don't, it will keep ratcheting up, up, and up.
Before you know it, as Martin Luther King Junior admonished us, the people of ill-will will have won the debate.
BAIER: Representative Rodgers?
RODGERS: Without a doubt, the political rhetoric has increased across the board, inflammatory remarks. And Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives, Tea Party activists have all condemned what happened in Arizona. I think it's important to remember that this was an individual 22 years old, he dropped out of high school. As far as we know, he's not tied to a political movement, and this wasn't a politically motivated act.
You know, his favorite books are "the Communist Manifesto" and "Mein Kampf." I think it's important that we recognize that this is an individual that had -- that has mental challenges, and we need to act appropriately in dealing with him and making sure that justice prevails here.
BAIER: The investigation continues. Congresswoman Rodgers, Congressman Clyburn, thank you both for talking with us today on this tough day.
CLYBURN: Thank you so much for having me.
BAIER: More on this later with our panel. Also up next with two new senators. We'll be right back.
BAIER: Joining us now, two new members of the U.S. Senate. Rand Paul, Republican from Kentucky joins us from there. And Democrat Chris Coons comes to us from his home state of Delaware. Senators, welcome to "Fox News Sunday."
SEN. CHRISTOPHER COONS, D-DEL.: Good morning.
SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY.: Thanks, Bret.
BAIER: Thanks for being with us. I'll ask you the same question I asked Representatives Clyburn and Rodgers to start off here about the tragedy in Arizona. Does the shooting say anything about the political discourse in the U.S.? And does it change anything in Washington? Senator Paul, first to you.
PAUL: Well, I think most importantly in the initial stages here, we need to emphasize the humanity and the tragedy of this whole thing. You know, we're people like anybody else. Representative Giffords has a family and children. I think that's what's most important, that we talk about the tragedy and how awful this is.
Before we take a step beyond that -- once you do take a step beyond that, I looked at some of the writings of this young man. From a medical point of view, there is a lot to suggest paranoid schizophrenia, that this man was a really sick individual. And absolutely we need to condemn the violence. And absolutely we need to have our prayers and our thoughts with those who suffered from this violence.
BAIER: Senator Coons?
COONS: Well, Annie and I have been praying for Gabby and her family, for all the victims of yesterday's attack in Tucson. This kind of senseless violence is never appropriate in our country, least of all when it's directed at somebody like Congresswoman Giffords who is a caring and energetic and engaged and committed public servant, who was working hard to try and improve the lives of her constituents.
We spent much of yesterday afternoon in horror watching as this all unfolded. I do think, as Senator Paul says, that all of us need to be mindful of the fact this was the act of a deranged individual. We need to be more cautious and concerned about our security, but we also need to be re-dedicated to the work of trying to serve our constituents, of remaining active and engaged in the institution of the Congress, and moving ahead to tackle the very real challenges ahead of us.
Since I first met Gabby, roughly a decade ago, she impressed me as someone who was a tireless and dedicated public servant. I hope we will all move forward in a positive way. We'll reduce some of the heated rhetoric of the election campaign and move towards some of the real challenges that lie ahead of us.
BAIER: Senator Coons, do you think this incident will reignite efforts by gun control advocates to push for revision in gun laws?
COONS: I do think we need to responsibly enforce the existing gun laws that place barriers for those who are mentally unstable to gun ownership or gun use. I think, frankly, that we need to move forward toward the biggest challenges in front of us, making sure we get Americans back to work, tackling our deficit and our debt, dealing with the conflict in Afghanistan.
There are big challenges right in front of us, and frankly think that's what Congress needs to be focused on.
BAIER: Senator Paul, Arizona is one of three states where you can carry a concealed weapon without a permit. Alaska and Vermont are the other two. Is that at all in jeopardy, do you think?
PAUL: No, I don't think so. Interestingly, Representative Giffords was a defender of the Second Amendment and is a defender of the Second Amendment. So no, I don't think that plays into this at all. Really, I think they are unrelated.
It's probably about a very sick individual and what should have been done for that person. But the weapons don't kill people. It's the individual that killed these people.
BAIER: This is obviously on the minds of all of the members of Congress. And as we heard, the House is delaying its action on health care. But there are a lot of legislative things to talk about coming up very soon. There has been a lot of talk about the upcoming vote to raise the federal debt ceiling.
As you can see by this chart, Congress has done it many times before. But Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said Thursday that the country's current debt limit -- you see it here, 14.29 trillion dollars -- could be reached as early as March 31st.
Question to both of you. Do you know specifically what will happen if the debt ceiling is not raised, in specific? Senator Paul first.
PAUL: Well, I can't imagine voting to raise the debt ceiling unless we're going to change our ways in Washington. I am proposing that we link to raising the debt ceiling -- that we link a balanced budget rule, an ironclad rule that they can't evade.
They have shown themselves to be untrustworthy. You're right, they raise it every six months or every year. But then they never change anything. So even if we attach some token spending cuts to it, I don't think that's enough. We have to change the rules and we have to say to Washington balance the budget. You have to do it by law.
And then I'll vote to raise the debt ceiling. But only if we have an ironclad balanced budget rule that we attach to the debt ceiling.
BAIER: But Senator Paul, we heard the administration, Austan Goolsbee, Treasury Secretary Geithner's letter about what potentially could happen to the economy in a default. Do you have any sense of what could happen if this vote fails?
PAUL: Well, it's interesting. The president's advisers are saying this. But in 2006, then Senator Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling and said it would be irresponsible to raise the debt ceiling, that it was a failure of our leadership to control the debt. It's a little disingenuous now to say the sky is falling, you absolutely have to do it.
I think it's an either/or fallacy. They say either you raise it or the sky will fall and the end of the economy will happen. What about an in-between solution? What about we spend what we take in? We bring in 200 billion dollars a month. Couldn't we just spend what we have instead of saying oh, we have to shut down government?
We could still spend 200 billion dollars a month, or over two trillion dollars a year without raising the debt ceiling. They don't tell you there is an alternative.
BAIER: Senator Coons, your response to that?
COONS: Bret, this is a fundamentally different issue of the possibility of shutting down government. Back in '95, the new speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, and then President Clinton got into a big contest about federal spending and ultimately shut down the government for a brief period of time. While that was disruptive and difficult, it led to a path forward on budget resolution.
Defaulting on the American debt is a fundamentally different thing. And I believe Secretary Geithner. And the letter he sent to all of us as members of Congress was raising the alarm that the potential consequences of a failure to meet America's legal obligations, to fail to raise the debt ceiling in the short-term, has dramatically negative consequences.
We don't want to be counted among the reckless and irresponsible countries that fail to meet their obligations, like Greece or like Spain, and have to be bailed out by other countries around the world.
I agree that we do need to make progress in reducing federal spending and tackling our deficit. But it took a long time to work our way into this problem. And it is going to take some hard and responsible work to get our way out of it.
BAIER: Senator Coons, you said in an interview two months ago, quoting here, "in order for me to be comfortable voting to raise the debt ceiling, I am going to need to see that we're making progress in tackling the deficit and the debt." Senator, are you prepared to block the increase of the debt ceiling if it's not paired with real deficit reductions? Real spending cuts?
COONS: I'm going to be looking for to us begin the path toward spending reduction, to making sure that we're serious about tackling our tax system and beginning tax reform. I frankly have some real concerns about the bipartisan compromise tax package that we ultimately passed at the end of the lame duck session.
But as I listen to advice from economists, folks from the administration, more senior members of the Senate, I was convinced that in this economy, as we're really just beginning a recovery, we needed to extend tax relief and we needed to put together and pass the package that the last Congress did, in which I served.
I do think moving forward, we shouldn't play a political game of chicken with raising the debt ceiling. The consequences are too great. But I am going to be working hard with others in my caucus and across the aisle to begin the process of putting together responsible spending cuts and movement toward reducing America's debt.
BAIER: Senator Paul, this is what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this week about the Tea Party: quote, "the Tea Party was born because of the economy. The economy is probably the worst it's ever been except for maybe the Great Depression. The Tea Party will disappear as soon as the economy gets better, and the economy is getting better all the time."
BAIER: Your reaction to that?
PAUL: Well, as someone who came from the Tea Party, I can tell you that the Tea Party is a staying force. It's a force that is critical of both Republicans and Democrats, and wants them to do something about the deficit.
You know, they say they're worried about what will happen if we don't raise the debt ceiling. We're worried about a $14 trillion deficit. And we're worried that it's unsustainable and threatens the foundation of our economy.
And I don't think it's going to be tinkering at the edges here. We have to have fundamental reform of the way the budget goes forward. We have to force Washington to balance the budget, and we do need to link it to the debt ceiling because, strategically, it will allow us to get reforms that we need, because I think the votes will be there to raise the debt ceiling. But let's make sure that if they raise the debt ceiling, they fix some of the budgetary problems we have.
BAIER: Senator Coons, last question for you. You were very critical of Wall Street's business practices in your campaign. You called Wall Street banks "reckless," saying Wall Street greed damaged American families.
In light of all that, what do you make of President Obama's choice of Bill Daley, a JPMorgan Chase executive, as his new chief of staff, and Gene Sperling, a Goldman Sachs consultant, as his chief economic adviser?
COONS: Well, as I have gone up and down the state of Delaware as a senator, I've had the opportunity to meet with business leaders, with those who own and run small businesses, with large business leaders, with folks who are in the farming community, with seniors and veterans, and I hear same concern over and over. They want us to focus in Congress on getting the economy back to work, on creating high-wage jobs.
And if the administration is making a change in leadership that brings in to leadership folks with more experience in the private sector, who have got more ability to work across the aisle, that's a choice the president is making. I do think --
BAIER: Sir, despite the fact that you talked about --
COONS: -- it's important for us to have a more constructive and positive relationship with the private sector.
BAIER: Yes. Despite the things you said in the campaign about those banks, perhaps, that those gentlemen worked for, you think they're going to be an --
COONS: Well, Bret, let's be clear. I wasn't saying in the campaign that bankers are bad people. I'm just saying that there was reckless and irresponsible behavior.
Part of that was because of a lack of appropriate oversight and regulation. Part of it was because we pulled out some of the critical circuit breakers that were put in place after the depression. It was a bipartisan effort, and it took a long time for us to build to the place where Wall Street and then, ultimately, our economy failed. But we are making real progress coming out of this recession, we are beginning to recover.
And the president is going to make whatever choices he will of leadership. I think Bill Daley is someone who's got a lot of experience at a senior level, both in the private sector and in the public sector. And I look forward to working with him as we tackle the really tough challenges in front of us.
BAIER: Senators, thank you both for being with us and rolling with the punches today on a tough day here in Washington.
COONS: Thank you, Bret.
BAIER: Coming up, the Sunday panel is here. And we'll talk about the shooting in Arizona and what it means in Washington after the break.
BAIER: Taking a look live there at the Capitol, the flags flying at half staff in honor of one of the staff members of Gabrielle Giffords who was killed in the shooting. Of course, a federal judge also died, and four others.
About this shooting, it's time for our Sunday group: Brit Hume, Fox News senior political analyst; Mara Liasson of National Public Radio; Bill Kristol of "The Weekly Standard"; and Fox News political analyst, Juan Williams.
Brit, your thoughts on the shooting and the fallout?
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: A horrible thing. It's disturbing, even a little depressing.
You hear the prescriptions now beginning to be suggested as to how we might address this -- better security for congressional members. I suppose that would help.
You're hearing, you know, remarks about the nature of American discourse. It's way too early to know what effect American discourse of any kind had on someone who appears, from all accounts, to be quite deranged.
I would say we have an open society where public officials mingle openly and pretty freely with their constituents and others. And I think this is part of the risk of democracy.
It doesn't -- and it's a remarkable thing, really, when you see how exposed members of Congress and other officials are to the public, that there isn't more of this sort of thing. This is a case where, as it happens every now and then in America, somebody goes on a shooting -- murderous shooting rampage. That's what appears to have happened here.
BAIER: Mara, Brit says it's too early to talk about the political discourse. It's already being talked about.
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: That doesn't mean people aren't doing it. That's right.
I think it is too early to know whether there was any connection between political discourse and what happened. I mean, the guy sounds like he was really deranged. He had voices in his head. He rambled on, on his Web site. He had views that you could call left and views you could call right.
He probably was so extreme, he was in that spot on the political spectrum where the extreme left and the extreme right meet.
LIASSON: Yes. But that being said, there is already, unfortunately, a lot of blame being slung around. I think the conversation about whether political discourse in this country has gone too far in some cases is a really good one to have.
That doesn't mean that it's the cause of what happened in Arizona. But I think it would be better for political discourse if people didn't call each other fascists and socialists and Nazis and Hitler, and if gun sites weren't put on people's districts. I mean, that would probably be better.
Whether it would have prevented anything that happened yesterday is not clear.
BILL KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, as Brit said, it is disturbing and depressing. And I guess one has to focus on the victims, obviously, as one should -- and they're in our prayers -- and also on the killer, who is obviously a deranged person.
But it's also worth noting in this case, as in so many other American tragedies, there are also acts of heroism. I mean, it's worth saying that, because in a country of 300 million people, there will be deranged killers, unfortunately, and there will also be people who rise to the occasion.
A 20-year-old intern, Daniel Hernandez, who worked in the district office of Congresswoman Giffords, was manning the event and working at the table where people were checking in. When the shots rang out, he ran over to her, helped other people, actually, attend to other victims. I guess he knew something about emergency medical care, and attended to Congresswoman Giffords, staunched the bleeding, at least enough that he apparently, the doctors say, saved her life, accompanied her to the hospital. And this is a 20-year-old kid who showed incredible poise and courage.
BAIER: And you hear, Juan, about the 9-year-old girl who was brought to the event by a neighbor because she was at the student council. Just elected.
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: To learn about how government works.
Your thoughts on the whole thing?
WILLIAMS: Well, obviously, as everyone has said, this is a horrific event. And this is the kind of thing that just chills you and makes you worry about a free and open government.
And, of course, our government relies on the idea that you can speak to your elective leaders and tell them what you think. But it doesn't mean that you should be free to attack people.
Now, to get to the quick summations that people are rushing to here -- and I think it's important to say this as someone who's left of center -- is that, you know, you can't just blame this on some kind of right-wing rhetoric. I mean, clearly, I think this kid was unstable.
Now, there are connections between him and this group, American Renaissance, I believe they're called. And they are strongly anti- immigrant, they're anti-Semitic, and they're anti-government.
So I think that there is a temptation to say, oh, this is the result of right-wing attacks. But, you know, my sense is that, let's wait a second, and let's make sure about any kind of connections.
If you go back to '95 and the Oklahoma City bombing, there were people who said it was actually to the benefit of Democrats at that time, and helped the country to become more supportive of President Clinton when he attacked the right wing for their kind of vitriol at that time. I would hope that people aren't so base as to make this into a political debate at this moment.
I do have worries about Arizona. I think the sheriff down there said it yesterday when he said that there is too much of this kind of anti-immigrant fervor going on in Arizona. It's become home -- some people call it the new Birmingham because of the intolerance that's demonstrated in much of the state. And I think the people in Arizona have to stop for a second and think about exactly why they are so angry and why this incident happened in Arizona.
BAIER: What's next here, Brit? President Obama obviously sent his FBI director, Robert Mueller, there. He met with his national security team. We saw the pictures of that yesterday. We saw him calling all of these officials.
What's next? And how do you think this administration handles this going forward?
HUME: Well, obviously, he's got the head of the FBI out there. The place is a certain obvious, extraordinary priority on the investigation and on the case. Presumably, in the days ahead, we will learn more about exactly the chain of events that happened and exactly what the course of this young man's life was that led him to this hideous day. And no doubt there's going to be a wave of attempts to blame this on the character of the national discourse, the political atmosphere in Arizona.
The sheriff popping off, that Juan thought was so well said yesterday I thought was extremely premature and unwise of him to say that. It seems to me that it's when somebody who obviously has more than one screw loose does something as insane as this, and is violent and brutal, that attributing it to any coherent political philosophy is a stretch and that we'd do well not to go there.
WILLIAMS: But, Brit, wouldn't you say that, in fact, in this era of Obama, that a lot of things that are said about politicians, and especially in the course of a health care discussion, and the shouting at the Congress, don't you think that things have become a little bit more angry in our times? Wouldn't that be fair to say?
And that's why I think that there's some who, I agree with you, have this base instinct to try to make political hay out of this.
HUME: Well, what I would say, I think people are trying to make political hay out of it, but not perhaps in the way you suggest.
All of these things we're beginning to hear now, pinning responsibility on right-wing radio show hosts and others, were the same things that we heard back at the time of the Timothy McVeigh -- the Oklahoma City bombing. We heard all of this before. We've been through this cycle before. That didn't ever really lead anywhere --
WILLIAMS: You don't think things are a little bit higher in terms of the tenor at this moment in American --
HUME: On the lunatic fringe, they're always high, and they obviously were high in this case.
BAIER: Bill, what about the decision by the House Republican leadership to put off the repeal vote on Wednesday as a result of this tragedy? I asked the congresswoman about that, you know, shifting the schedule.KRISTOL: Well, I guess they're just putting off all the votes and the business of the House for a week. And I suppose that's reasonable thing -- it's probably a reasonable thing to do in light of the shock of this, and a congresswoman being critically wounded and her staff member being killed. And I wouldn't second-guess it.
They'll have to get back to work. I mean, and obviously, people will have to vote the way they think is right for the country.
And I don't think this will end up having, honestly, much political effect. I think it assumes that the voters really are -- the voters have their views about what the health care system should be, and whether we should fight the war in Afghanistan or not. And the idea that they're going to change their minds because of one terrible attack by a deranged young man on a congresswoman is not going to affect things one way or the other.
LIASSON: I do think it's going to make people think twice before they use certain metaphors in politics like "fascist," "socialist," "Nazis."
KRISTOL: Right. And let's just --
LIASSON: I mean, I think people are going to have to think not because this kind of rhetoric caused it, but I think it is going to have a kind of cautionary and positive effect.
HUME: Let me make a distinction (ph). If you want to call someone a "fascist," that's one thing. I think that's obviously over the top. Fascism is not broad in the land. Nazis, similarly.
But if you want to argue that someone is a socialist, there are people on Capitol Hill who are declared socialist, Mara. There is nothing wrong with --
LIASSON: OK. But the kinds of things that we would defend our country using military means against, some people would defend our country against communism, socialism with the military.
BAIER: Last word quickly, Juan.
Does this change how lawmakers interact with their constituents? Does security change? Does this dynamic change because of this incident?
WILLIAMS: Well, yesterday, I had a conversation just by coincidence in a mall with a congresswoman. And she said to me, of course, that she's not going to be exposed in this way, and that she wants more security.
So, I imagine she's not singular in her views. I just heard your interview with the two -- and both of them are talking about this as well, putting more money into security? You know what? I understand their need for security, but it's not a good thing in terms of diminishing the amount of contact -- and I think Bill is shaking his head. We agree. You can't -- you've got to be able to talk to your congressman and say, I disagree.
BAIER: We'll leave it there. Panel, we have to take a break here.
We will be right back.
BAIER: That was the scene Wednesday, when John Boehner became Speaker of the House.
We're back with the panel now.
The 112th session of Congress is under way.
Brit, how are they doing?
HUME: Well, the Republicans, it seemed to me, got off to a reasonably good start. John Boehner gave a humble talk. He managed to hold the tears back, at least while he was talking, so his reputation as the most lackluster (ph) senior official we've had in a long time may have diminished in just a bit.
He managed to speak for a briefer period of time than Nancy Pelosi did. She still seemed a little self-absorbed, but she was gracious to him in the end. And most of what happened this week was ceremonial.
I would say that the -- it was very instructive to watch the reactions to the practice introduced now of reading the Constitution in its entirety in some quarters. It was an illuminating moment. You had some in the media referring to it -- one "TIME" magazine writer talked about the Republicans' fetish with the Constitution. I wonder if the writer had noticed that when these men and women take their oath, they take an oath not to the country, not to the Congress, not to the constituents, but to uphold and defend the Constitution.
So its reading does not strike me as inappropriate, and I suspect most of Americans feels the same way.
BAIER: Mara, we already talked about the delay because of the tragedy in Arizona that they're pushing back this health care repeal vote, but it is just that, a delay. They'll still do it. And then they have a series of spending cut provisions that will likely be unveiled in the coming days.
LIASSON: I think that I agree, they were off to a fairly good start. There were some glitches -- two guys who didn't show up for oath of office, big, lavish fundraisers that seemed to strike some people in the Tea Party in particular as wrong and ill-advised. Plus, now they've got two big substantive problems. They have got to find that $100 billion of spending cuts, as you mentioned, which is going to be harder than they thought. And they're already talking about scaling that number back.
And then the repeal of health care, which I think is going to go forward, even if it's delayed by a week or two. And the problem with that is it seems like they want to rush it through, get it over with, and then send it into oblivion in the Senate.
There are no hearings. They haven't come up with the replacement bill. They've always promise to repeal and replace. We don't know what they would replace it with. And it almost seems like they wanted to kind of very quickly and perfunctorily kick off the box on a campaign promise they made in particular to their Tea Party constituents.
I think if they're serious, they have got to go through the whole process of replacing the bill with something and showing what they are actually for.
BAIER: Bill, perhaps the biggest news of the week was the shift at the White House, with Bill Daley, former Commerce secretary from the Clinton administration, being announced as the new chief of staff. And that brought some howling from the left.
KRISTOL: That was good to see. I first met Bill Daley when he was brought to Washington from Chicago by Bill Clinton at the end of 1993.I remember this as a kind of special aide to shepherd NAFTA agreement, the North America Free Trade Agreement, through the Congress, which he did with, I think, a majority of Republican votes. I think most Democrats were against it.
And I was running a little Republican organization at the time, and I was for NAFTA, and met Bill Daley then.
So, as President Obama's chief of staff, he wants to shepherd a lot more free trade and pro-business measures through Congress. I'm for it.
Gene Sperling has also now become the senior economic adviser. He's a moderate Democrat, another Clinton administration veteran.
Everyone I know in Washington who ever worked in the Clinton administration is sitting by their phone, very deeply wounded that they weren't -- where was my phone call? You know?
BAIER: It could still ring.
KRISTOL: Exactly. So that's oppressing to the ones who weren't called.
But, I mean, Bill Daley was secretary of Commerce in Clinton's second term. And I know for a fact that he has already talked to a lot of business leaders who said we want jobs, we want to get this economy going. What can we do? He has been told by a lot of them, taxes are kind of (INAUDIBLE) for the next couple of years. Everyone wants to reduce spending. We'll see what happens on that.
Regulations -- I'd say the one test of whether he is really making a difference there is whether he reins in these agencies, especially the Environmental Protection Agency, which are heaping huge burdens on businesses.
BAIER: How much does this tell us, Juan, about the administration, about this president, and his re-election effort?
WILLIAMS: I think it says a lot. And I think that's the cause of all the ire on the left, is that the thought is that he is making friends with Wall Street, in particular, in order to bulk up his re- election treasure, and that those are folks that he feels are necessary to reassure even as we are in a situation where much of America and certainly the left remains in frustration with the behavior of Wall Street, with the fact that these big corporations are sitting on trillions of dollars in terms of capital, not investing it in jobs and in the American economy.
Why make friends and play footsy with big business? But Bill Daley is big business. I mean, that's why the Chamber of Commerce, which has been after the Obama administration on so many fronts, is hailing Bill Daley.
That's why, you know, it's a surprise that, all of a sudden, you see people on the right and Congress, they're saying, oh, we love Bill Daley. It's people who have been at Obama's base who are, like, what's going on here? Why all of a sudden? But it's obvious it has to do with campaigns.
HUME: There's a saying in Washington that personnel is policy. And in some cases that's true.
It remains very much to be seen, however, whether that will prove true in this case, whether the advent of Daley and Gene Sperling and others perhaps will herald a seriously different policy direction. My sense is it probably will on some counts.
I expect the president to fight until the last dog dies, as Bill Clinton used to say, to protect the health care reform bill, which is a major bone of contention. But I do think that on trade, possibly on tax reform, perhaps on other issues, including, perhaps, a gentler regulatory hand, might be heralded here.
And if that would be the case, I think it would do two things. One is it would calm some of the fevers on Capitol Hill, and I think it would help the president's re-election effort.
BAIER: That is it for the panel.
Thank you, all.
When we come back, a final word on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
BAIER: The final word on this show, it was quite a scene on Capitol Hill this week when House members, one after another, read aloud the Constitution. When her turn came, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords read the First Amendment. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIFFORDS: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Congresswoman Giffords reading the First Amendment and the right to peacefully assemble. A different context today.
That's it for us. Continuing coverage throughout Sunday on the Fox News Channel.
And I will see you Monday, 6: 0 p.m. Eastern Time, with "Special Report."
Chris Wallace returns on the next "Fox News Sunday."
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