This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, August 31, 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: Secretary of State Colin Powell
KONDRACKE: Powell continues his deafening silence on the Iraq debate, sitting idly by while former administration officials and surrogates duke it out publicly on the editorial pages and over the airwaves.
Now, Fred, are you at last ready to, to acknowledge that within the administration, there is a fight like cats and dogs going on over whether to have a war?
FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Cats and dogs again? No, look, I'm not willing to. Look, here's what I think. Well, first, let me say I would love to have Colin Powell step out publicly and say, Yes, I am totally for preemption, we have to move on Iraq before we're attacked. No, I don't think...
KONDRACKE: Why, why has he not? Why has he not?
BARNES: ... we have to go to — I don't think we have — Well, OK, that, I, that, that's, that's the second part of my answer. Because I believe he's working behind the scenes privately, working with our allies, trying to bring them slowly along to back the Bush campaign.
Now, if he's not, if he is truly opposed to this policy, which has been decided on, perhaps over his initial objections, to take military action against Iraq, if he can't go along with that, then he only has one option, leave the administration.
KONDRACKE: Well, I mean, he could fall into line later. But all the evidence suggests, all the evidence suggests that they — that there is a fight still going on within, and that he is opposed.
Look, he has not reportedly in the press, he called Brent Scowcroft, who — former national security adviser, and, and thanked him for...
KONDRACKE: ... an op-ed piece or TV appearance...
KONDRACKE: ... against the war.
KONDRACKE: All right, if that's true, it has not denied.
KONDRACKE: Two, General Zinni, his close confidant, came out against the war the other day in a speech. Three, Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of, of state, disputed the Don Rumsfeld point that Saddam Hussein is harboring Al Qaeda terrorists.
Four, we've got this silence. I mean, you'd think that he would come forward.
Five is the Powell record. Powell is a retired Army general. The Army tends to be against the, the, the, the cakewalk theory.
BARNES: Yes, yes.
KONDRACKE: He was against the Gulf War, he is a, he is a traditionalist in foreign policy...
BARNES: Yeah, I know.
KONDRACKE: ... likes to have allies and all the allies are against it.
That's my case.
BARNES: Mort, Mort, I'm totally unconvinced. Look, if, just because, I mean, I have friends who are against the war, doesn't mean I am. I don't buy any of it. OK.
UP: Saudi Arabian Ambassador Prince Bandar
BARNES: Bandar scores a public relations coup by having lunch at President Bush's Crawford ranch. The move was part of the president's charm offensive to ease tensions with the Saudis.
Now, Mort, you know, I don't think the Saudis need this PR team that they've hired in the U.S. to create TV ads to make them look good and to make the American people after September 11, when 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, to make the American people feel good about Saudi Arabia again.
Now, here's what I think really went in Crawford in that meeting, and that is that the Saudis, who had said that no planes can leave the American air base in Saudi Arabia and then go and bomb Iraq, that they can't be used, but I think they're making private arrangements, giving the U.S. fly- over rights and so on, and other help when the war on, on Iraq begins, things that they'll never admit publicly.
KONDRACKE: Well, I hope you're all right. Look, the Saudis have a long record of saying one thing...
KONDRACKE: ... and, you know, for the benefit of domestic consumption...
KONDRACKE: ... and doing another, usually cooperating with, with the United States. But in this case, they — in every possible way, I mean, by every voice you can, you can hear, they are saying, No about the war in Iraq, and no again.
BARNES: Yes, yes.
KONDRACKE: So, I mean, they're going to have a, a long, a long reversal, and a lot of explaining to do to their own people...
KONDRACKE: ... if they, they help us.
BARNES: Mort, the Saudis don't explain things to their own people.
KONDRACKE: Yes, I know.
BARNES: That's, that's what a dictatorship's about.
KONDRACKE: But they are worried about their own people.
UP: Florida gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride
KONDRACKE: The upstart McBride is quickly closing the gap between himself and front-runner Janet Reno, and recent polls show McBride would fare better against incumbent Governor Jeb Bush than Reno, a point not lost on the Bush campaign.
Bush has taken the Gray Davis approach by running pre-primary TV ads attacking his opponent that he doesn't want to face. Check out this recent Bush television ad and McBride's response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FLORIDA REPUBLICAN PARTY AD)
ANNOUNCER: Corporate lawyer Bill McBride. He's got all the moves. McBride funds his campaign against Janet Reno by evading campaign finance laws with tricky accounting to hide special interest contributions. He borrows money to recklessly expand his law firm, then he leaves to run for governor just before 230 workers lose their jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CAMPAIGN AD)
BILL MCBRIDE (D), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Bill McBride. You're probably wondering why Governor Bush is running negative ads against me now. I haven't even won the Democratic primary yet. I think it's because he knows I'd be the toughest Democrat to beat and because I'm committed to public education, and I have a plan to improve our schools that's endorsed by Florida's teachers.
Jeb Bush's ads aren't true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: And the McBride campaign, had that ad ready even before the Bush went — ad went on the air, they expected it to come.
Now, McBride isn't a grassroots candidate. You know, he came into the race backed by unions and all the party leaders and so on. But he is a formidable candidate. He didn't even bother to attack Janet Reno in — when he appeared with her in a debate this week.
My guess is he'll win the primary and emerge from it almost even with Jeb Bush in the general election. It's going to make that a great race in Florida.
KONDRACKE: Yes, right now the, the polls show that Bush is ahead by 46-33, but 20 percent...
KONDRACKE: ... are undecided, and Bush is vulnerable on education funding and also for losing children in the child welfare.
BARNES: Yes, on the second one he's vulnerable, I don't know about the first.
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