Hot Stories for the Week of March 29 - April 2

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", April 3, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: And the hot story, Mort, is the Bush bounce.

You know, it was almost predictable, though I don't think we predicted it, that once the John Kerry honeymoon and the Democratic presidential primaries came to an end, as it has, and the Bush campaign began, as it has, with clever ads and attacks by the president himself on John Kerry, it was almost predictable that Bush's numbers would get a lot better, there would be a Bush bounce, and there has been.

Just look at these numbers, for instance. The latest Gallup poll shows President Bush pulling ahead of John Kerry. He's got a 3-point lead. Last week's FOX poll showed a dead heat. But perhaps what's most worrisome for the Kerry camp, 41 percent think he's too liberal. That's up 12 points since the end of January.

And although the number has slipped a bit since the 9/11 commission (search) flap, 58 percent approve the way President Bush has handled the War on Terror, and last week's Fox poll shows, by a margin of 50 to 27, that President Bush would do a better job protecting the country from future terror attacks than Kerry.

Now, those are not spectacular numbers, but they're better, and so there has been a Bush bounce. Now, and that is before this blowout jobs number for March, 308,000 jobs created, which is the best in, you know, since sometime in 2000, and all the economic indicators are that numbers like that will continue, and not these measly numbers that we'd seen over the last few months. I think February was, what, 21,000 jobs created.

So that's significant.

And secondly, the thing that I think has helped Bush so much is the, the White House response to Richard Clarke (search). Remember how feebly they responded to David Kay saying they weren't going to find any WMD in Iraq, and then there was the National Guard flap, that White House didn't respond it too well?

But the White House mobilized itself and Republicans when Richard Clark came out and attacked the White House for not doing enough to stop the terrorism prior to 9/11.

They, I think, destroyed his credibility completely, and I think poll numbers show that.

They played up the ... that there are staggering number of errors in his book, that he whitewashes the Clinton antiterrorism effort, and that he contradicted himself, not only in cases where he said he was just spinning, but in cases where he talked to individual reporters like Richard Miniter of The Wall Street Journal, who says his book, rather than being called "Against All Enemies," should be called "Against All Evidence."

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Right. Well, I mean, Kerry has not said very much about Clarke and has not very much depended upon Clarke ... so that's, that's not a factor ...

BARNES: Wisely, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... in this. But Kerry is out today with a, with a new ad, which is kind of unfortunately timed, I'd have to say, in view of this big new job number. Here, watch this.


ANNOUNCER: While jobs are leaving our country in record numbers, George Bush says sending jobs overseas makes sense for America. His top economic advisers say moving American jobs to low-cost countries is a plus for the U.S.

John Kerry's proposed a different economic plan that encourages companies to keep jobs here. It's part of a detailed economic agenda to create 10 million jobs.


KONDRACKE: Well, one, outsourcing is a hysteria.

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: You know, about 300,000 jobs out of the 1.8 million jobs that have been lost on Bush's watch have been, have been due to going overseas. And it, and that doesn't take account of all the jobs that have been created in this country by foreign companies establishing plants and stuff like that in this country.

Two, I think people will stop worrying about this out, outsourcing problem if the job number keeps rising. Now, here's, here's a fact. In 1996, when Clinton, President Clinton was up for reelection, in January, the economy lost 100,000 jobs. In February, the economy created 420,000 jobs, and guess what?

BARNES: I remember.

KONDRACKE: Bill Clinton was substantially reelected.


KONDRACKE: Now, the, the other hot story is horror show. The entire civilized world was shocked and horrified by the murder and mutilation of these four American security men in Fallujah. It was a, you know, it was a ghastly scene that was sort of reminiscent of, you know, lynch mobs in the old South, when these ghouls would be standing around cheering as blacks were strung up.

And, you know, that's what essentially went on in Fallujah.

But the important thing is that Fallujah, as you well know from having been in Iraq, is not the whole country. I mean, the, Fallujah is the center of anti-American, pro-Saddam insurgency and hatred. And, so, you know, one shouldn't draw too many conclusions of this.

But the danger was that either in Iraq or in the United States that people would look at what was happening there and think, Mogadishu (search), you know, Somalia (search), where the Clinton administration was driven out in 1993. That is not going to happen this time. Here's the U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, talking about what's going to happen next.


BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT, COMBINED JOINT TASK FORCE 7: We will be back in Fallujah. It will be at the time and the place of our choosing. We will hunt down the criminals. We will kill them or we will capture them. And we will pacify Fallujah.


KONDRACKE: As I said last week, you know, what we've got to be worried about is a Tet-style huge offensive, Vietnam ... 1968 ... style offensive, designed to discourage everybody right before or around the June 30 ... handover of power.

BARNES: Yes, you know, I don't think those guys in Fallujah could carry off a Tet offensive, which was a huge effort by the Viet Cong that was wrongfully reported by the American press and others as a Viet Cong victory, when it was actually a defeat for the Viet Cong.

But, in any case, I just don't think there are enough of these Ba'athists and terrorists and criminals, remember Saddam let all these people out of the jails, and Fallujah has become a sanctuary for them, and the American troops have sort of stayed out, they've stayed on around the perimeter of the city.

That's going to have to end. They're going to have to go into Fallujah. They're not going to win the hearts and minds, they're going to have to go in and either as Kimmitt, who's a very impressive guy, has said, either capture or kill these people.

Now, look, these people who are killing and burning Americans like they did are responsible for the mass graves all over Iraq. These were the security people for Saddam, the horrible people that know that they have no role in the new Iraq, as Paul Bremer calls it. They're not going to have a role there in a democracy. They're not going to have a privileged status. It's over for them. And this is a last-ditch action.

And it is brutal and barbaric.

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