This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", August 7, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Hot story, Mort, fear factor, and of course I'm talking about fear of another terrorist attack, 9/11-sized terrorist attack in America, which al Qaeda has let known that it would like to have such an attack in America this year, perhaps before the election, perhaps on election day, perhaps at the Republican National Convention, who knows? But they want to have one.
What is really increasing this fear is ... obviously the alerts, excuse me, that were put into effect in Washington and New York and Newark, New Jersey, because of these five financial institutions, which we know have been targeted. But arrests in England and in Pakistan show that these financial institutions were cased heavily, all the specifications in them, the elevators run and so on, back prior to 9/11.
But since then, in both England and Pakistan, Al Qaeda members have accessed this information as recently as this year, earlier this year, raising fear that there would be such an attack. There is clearly a network of Al Qaeda people and maybe in sleeper cells in the United States that know about these buildings, know when they're open and shut. And so these buildings are vulnerable.
Now the other thing, the silly side, I, anyway, I call it the silly side of the dispute over terrorism and so on, is between President Bush and John Kerry, the presidential opponents, over whether who is more eager to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 commission dealing with terrorism.
Listen to Bush and Kerry yap about it. I think it's Kerry first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
U.S. SENATOR JOHN KERRY, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I regret that it's taken us almost three years to get to the point where these recommendations are now being adopted. Many of them I called for, and others have called for, over the course of the last years. Some of them very obvious. I regret that the president seems to have no sense of urgency to make America as safe as it needs to be.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If America shows uncertainty and weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This is not going to happen on my watch.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BARNES: You know, president has shown urgency. I'm not sure that that was the right thing to do, because maybe we ought to spend some time thinking over these recommendations. But the president said he'll have a single national intelligence director and a national counterterrorism center.
But this is a silly debate. None of the recommend, even if you agreed ... immediately implement it, all of these dozens of recommendations by Mort, by the 9/11 commission, even if they'd been in place back in 2001, they wouldn't have averted the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.
MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: All right, well, but obviously, terrorism is, is resurfacing as a...
KONDRACKE: ... as a major issue along with the economy in the campaign...and the war in Iraq. And what's happening is, and President Bush has led on this issue by miles for months and months, and Kerry obviously needs to politically to catch up.
And therefore, what he's doing is trying to rush along this 9/11 agenda, trying to say that he was there first. And, and also is saying, and rather more effectively, I think, that on homeland security, the president has not spent enough money on, you know, first responders, et cetera, et cetera, and that ports aren't safe enough.
And that, that argument has not been answered. Now, Tom Ridge was playing the political game too when he announced this, this terror alert. Watch what he said. He, he gave Bush credit for, for being as prepared as we are. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We must understand that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the president's leadership in the war against terror.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KONDRACKE: Now, the latest Fox News poll shows...
BARNES: There you have it.
KONDRACKE: ... shows that President Bush (search) leads John Kerry by 5 points on the question of who would do a better job in the war on terror, but that is down 15 points from just last month.
BARNES: Well, you say 5, that looks like 6 to me.
KONDRACKE: Yes, it does look like 6 to me too. Bush beats Kerry by 14 points when asked which candidate has a clear plan to, to protect the U.S. against terrorism. But our poll contains clear warning signs for Bush overall. He's behind by 3 points in a head-to-head matchup, and Bush's job approval rating has dropped to 44 percent this month. That's the lowest ever in a Fox poll.
Now, Kerry did not get much of a bounce from, from his convention, but...
KONDRACKE: ... but, but...what these numbers indicate to me is...one, that Bush is not...clicking on the...
KONDRACKE: ... with his negative ads, trying to, to degrade Kerry in the public's mind.
KONDRACKE: And two, the voters still don't know why they should affirmatively, why they should give George Bush another four years.
BARNES: Yes, no, I'm, I'm going to go back to ... let me just say a couple of things. One, the Gallup poll shows Bush ahead of Kerry by 6. The Bush campaign thinks there may be down by about 2. A couple other points I want to make.
One is that I wish these candidates ... both Bush and Kerry would be specific about who the enemy is. It's not just terrorists in general, it's a specific type of terrorist that is targeting the United States and wants to blow up and kill as many Americans ... as they possibly can. It is radical Islamic terrorists. They're the ones who are the problem. It's not some just general, general terrorists that's around.
The other thing Kerry said that I think is very questionable is that Bush by invading Iraq has created thousands of more terrorists. Now, I, I really don't think that's what has created more terrorists. Basically it was 9/11 and the thrill that that gave the, the incipient terrorists around the world that really built up al Qaeda.
KONDRACKE: Well, I think it's important that we, that we emphasize the radical...in radical Islamic terrorism...we don't want a, a war of civilizations against, against all of Islam.
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