Ups and Downs for the Week of November 10 - 14

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, November 15, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: This, week's ups and downs are on the deck board. Are you ready?


BARNES: You don't look ready.

KONDRACKE: I'm ready, I'm ready.

BARNES: All right.

DOWN: Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry

BARNES: Staff shakeups, including the firing of campaign manager ... lead to new questions about the direction and viability of Kerry's campaign. The staff purging overshadowed Kerry's Veterans Day events, and a long-planned appearance on The Tonight Show.

KONDRACKE: Now, look, the problem with the Kerry team is not the manager that ... who got fired, it's the owner, namely, John Kerry himself. He does not know where he stands on the major issue of this election, namely, Iraq.

He too, he created a faction-ridden campaign organization, where they were constantly battling, and he couldn't get to the decisions.

Now he's fired the guy who had the idea, the correct idea, which was to go after Howard Dean, his major challenger...


KONDRACKE: ... fast, and, you know, now Jim Jordan is gone. It -- now, Dick Gephardt has figured out that how to attack Howard Dean in Iowa on a specific issue, namely, Medicare (search), and he's gained traction with it. He's leading, in fact, in Iowa.

Kerry has got a lot of different attempts to make a wedge issue in New Hampshire, but he has not figured out one that will work. And at the -- at this rate, he's going to lose.

BARNES: You know, Kerry may have gotten some help out of that appearance on the Leno show, except for the fact of what preceded him, a sock puppet. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going on with this show? Yes, the Terminator can take over the show, but John Kerry, a war veteran, has to follow a (expletive deleted) dog puppet.


BARNES: That was pretty funny, actually. I wouldn't have wanted to come on after that. Look, you know, the fact is, Kerry has found an issue to get after Dean on, except it's an issue that will help Bush in the fall, not help Kerry now. It's Howard Dean's desire to raise, get rid of the entire Bush tax cut and so raise taxes on the middle class. I mean, Democratic activists who are going to vote in the primaries, they love tax increases.

So Bush can use this, but it won't work for Kerry.

UP: President Bush

KONDRACKE: The strengthening economy and record-breaking fund raising numbers boosts President Bush's reelection prospects. The economic turnaround is shoring up his job approval ratings, the most recent national polls show his approval numbers in the 50s, and his fund-raising swing in Florida this week brought in a record $2.6 million, pushing his campaign's total to three, $103 million.

BARNES: ... does that make you think of the J.Lo juggernaut?

The, look, all the elements but one, and it's an important one, are falling into place, I think, for Bush's reelection in 2004. The economy and money, you mentioned both of those, the economy being strong, he's raising plenty of money. His likely foe, Howard Dean, has adopted George McGovern's foreign policy and Walter Mondale's tax increases. That's not a winning formula.

I think there's going to be a prescription drug benefit, though maybe not, but there may be one enacted this year, and Bush will take all the credit, whether he deserves it or not, and get a lot of the credit.

But then there's Iraq. And Iraq, there's one thing that has to be done in Iraq, and it has to be done, I think, pretty decisively by at least a year from now, and that is, the crushing and elimination of the Ba'athist and, and jihadists terrorists who are bombing and killing Americans and Iraqis in Iraq today.

KONDRACKE: I agree with all of that, no buts for a change.


KONDRACKE: I have an add-on, however ... this is going to be the nastiest campaign in your and my political memory. And, you know, we've been doing this for 35 or 40 years now.

BARNES: Well, you have, I'm much younger.

KONDRACKE: Look, the Democrats are already accusing President Bush of being a liar and a usurper and practically everything ... that you can imagine. Before this is over, Republicans, not necessarily President Bush, will link Howard Dean, if he's the nominee, to Usama bin Laden (search) and Saddam Hussein and accuse him of aiding terrorists. Watch.

BARNES: Yes, I don't think so, but anyway.

UP: Billionaire Financier George Soros

BARNES: He's now the biggest financial player on the left, forking over $15 million to various liberal activist groups and filling a gap in the Democratic Party finances, since the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law took effect.

KONDRACKE: Now, George Soros is very smart, and he's given a lot of money to very good causes, promoting democracy and all the rest. But, but he confesses that he is rabid about politics. And I think that he may just have been bitten by a stray dog.

Here's a quote. "America under Bush is a danger to the world. When I hear Bush say, 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me of the Germans." He's talking about the Nazis.

BARNES: Yes, I got that, yes, right...

KONDRACKE: The idea, the idea ... that George W. Bush is a Nazi... or a communist ... which is ... what George Soros has also ... accused him of, is, is foaming-at-the-mouth...

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... crazy.

BARNES: Yes. Mort, two words, ego trip. That's what George Soros is on, an ego trip.

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