Ups and Downs for the Week of May 6 - 10

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, May 11, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Let's go to the Ups and Downs.

Down: Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah

KONDRACKE: Down, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. The Israelis produce documented proof that the Saudi government gave financial assistance to families of homicide bombers and to the Palestinian extremist group Hamas. Of course, Saudi — the Saudis deny this. Here is Saudi spokesman Adel al-Jubeir.


ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI SPOKESMAN: We provide money to families who have lost their breadwinners, there is over 1,600 Palestinians who have been killed over the last 18 months by the Israelis. Their families do not have breadwinners. They can't earn a living. Our support goes to every Palestinian family in need. Our support is not targeted at suicide bombers.


KONDRACKE: You know, the — you know, that's baloney, of course. I mean, the, the Israeli documents demonstrate that, that they've been giving money to, to, to suicide bombers. And, and in fact, the Saudis are notorious for spreading Islamic fundamentalism all over the world, including even in the United States.

What's amazing about these documents is how cheap the Saudis are. I mean, if you're a suicide bomber, your family will get $25,000 from Saddam Hussein, and only about $5,300 from the Saudis. What the Saudis should be doing is pouring billions of dollars into the, the West Bank and Gaza to improve life there.

BILL SAMMON, GUEST CO-HOST: I think there can no longer be any doubt that the Saudis, like Yasser Arafat, have been granted exemptions to Bush's doctrine that equates terrorists with those who harbor them. I mean, there is irrefutable evidence that they have given money to the families of suicide bombers.

We are willing to do this double standard because we need Saudi oil and we need Saudi air bases, and that's the bottom line.

Down: Free trade

SAMMON: Down, free trade. From farm subsidies to steel tariffs to lumber duties, free trade has consistently fallen to the wayside. And House- Senate negotiations on trade promotion authority legislation could be tricky.

One of the reasons that free trade promotion authority is so important is that it is one of the things that Bush needs to sustain the economic expansion. You know, he had a very brief recession. We're now back into an expansion, which is good news for him politically. But there are a number of items that he has to pass, pieces of legislation, that will sustain this expansion so we don't just have a blip and get back down into another recession.

One of the things that makes free trade so attractive is that it makes jobs. And right now, jobless rates are lagging behind the rest of the economic recovery.

KONDRACKE: Well, there, there is some good news on the, on the trade front, in that it looks as though trade promotion authority, which is the crown jewel of, of Bush's policy is, is going to get through the, the Senate, where it might have been blocked, and — but then it's got to go to a conference committee, and that's going to be very difficult.

But, you know, George Bush has sold out free trade on a lot of scores, steel tariff, lumber, textiles, in order to get the TPA through the, through the, the House of Representatives, you know. And now the farm bill, he's going to sign the farm bill, which explodes the American subsidies to agriculture beyond any, any level that they've ever achieved before, and, and is going to make the Europeans furious and get us into trouble with the World Trade Organization.

Maybe George Bush will become a true free trader in his second term.

Up: Hispanics

KONDRACKE: Up, Hispanics. Both political parties are going all out to reach Latino voters this election year, from the Republican National Committee's announcement this week that it's launching a monthly Spanish-language TV show, to House Democrats twice-weekly Hispanic lessons.

A recent Cook political report poll shows that Bush's job approval rating among Hispanics is in line with the overall rating of 72 percent, quite good. But in the congressional ballot test, Hispanics gravitate toward Democrats 50 to 41 percent.

Bush is going out of his way to woo Hispanics, not only by paying attention to them, by making Hispanic appointments, including some judicial ones that he wishes would get through the Senate, but also by being pretty liberal about, about immigration law.

But the, the, the Republicans in Congress have a less-generous image among Hispanics. They, they tend — some of them tend to be much more restrictionist as to immigration, and on economic policy, you know, insofar as Hispanics are not yet a prosperous group, I think they're still going to stick with the Democrats.

SAMMON: You know it's driving the Democrats crazy that the first president who speaks Spanish routinely in public happens to be a Republican. Historically, most Hispanics, with the exception of the Cuban- Americans, have favored Democrats. That is why this is alarming to Democrats, because you see Bush not so much getting the whole Hispanic vote — he doesn't need to get the whole Hispanic vote — but if he can get a few more percentage points, he can make a difference in a tight election.

Remember, a successful politician is the guy who gets every vote he's supposed to get plus raids a few percentage points from his opponents' group.

Up: North Carolina Senator John Edwards

SAMMON: Up, North Carolina Senator John Edwards. Edwards becomes the new media darling as rumors of a run for a president — a presidential run in 2004 escalate.

I have been saying for over a year that John Edwards is going to be the guy. One of the reasons that Edwards is so popular is — is going to be so popular, I think, is because he's a fresh face. Al Gore, by the year 2004 — which, by the way, I don't think he's going to be on the ballot — that'll be the first time in 20 years, since 1984, that Al Gore will not have been on the national ticket either as president or vice president.

So I think the Democratic Party is ready for a fresh face, and I think Edwards is doing some things that are smart. One of them, he's running to the right of Bush on Israel. He actually criticized Bush, a liberal Democrat criticized a conservative Republican president, for telling Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, which I think is a shrewd move.

KONDRACKE: Yes, in, in Washington, the, the former Clinton-Gore gang is saying, therefore, Daschle, Tom Daschle first, some of them for, for Dick Gephardt, but John Edwards second, not, not Gore. But I think that if, if Edwards actually got the nomination, one of the key issues would be trial lawyers. Edwards is a former trial lawyer, defends what trial lawyers do as protecting the innocent. But Bush hates trial lawyers. He thinks that they're parasites.

So I think, you know, this, this would be a, a dynamite context.

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