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Ups and Downs for the Week of August 9 - 13

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", August 14, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "The Beltway Boys" Saturday at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday at 1 and 6 a.m. ET

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: It's time for this week's ups and downs.

UP: Former Presidential Candidate and Maryland Republican Alan Keyes

After several tries at finding a challenger to Democratic candidate Barack Obama (search), Illinois Republicans -- that's Illinois -- have chosen Alan Keyes (search) to complete the first-ever all-black Senate contest. Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, CO-HOST: You know what this looks to me like, Fred? It looks like a Rent-a-Black situation. Looks like -- you know, one of the late-night comedians, this week said, The Republicans could not find Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, they couldn't find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and they couldn't find a black guy in Chicago, so they went into Maryland and got Alan Keyes.

I just think it indicates ... that the Republican bench in Illinois...

BARNES: Yes.

WILLIAMS: ... must be pretty thin...

BARNES: Yes, yes.

WILLIAMS: ... if they got to go get Alan Keyes.

BARNES: I do. ... I mean, look, the Republican Party in Illinois is in pretty pathetic shape ... for sure. Look, why did Alan Keyes, who said he was against, you know, Hillary Clinton moving to New York, where she hadn't lived, to become a candidate there for the Senate, why is he doing this in, Illinois? Because, because Barack Obama has proposed a half a dozen or so big-time Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Alan Keyes is a great debater and wants to be... and these debates will be watched nationally, you know, two important black leaders debating issues. It won't just be ... issues of importance to everybody. But ... you're right, ... the poor party...

WILLIAMS: Right, yes.

BARNES: ... The Republicans in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln's state, are in pretty ...

WILLIAMS: You know, the speaker of the House...

BARNES: ... shabby shape. Yes.

WILLIAMS: ... Denny Hastert (search), he even had an alibi. He said he was out of town when the decision was made. He wasn't taking responsibility for that one.

BARNES: Yes.

WILLIAMS: The debates should be...

BARNES: Yes, yes.

WILLIAMS: ... to Keyes' advantage.

BARNES: Yes.

WILLIAMS: Keyes is terrific on the stump.

BARNES: He, he is great, yes.

WILLIAMS: All right.

UP: Peter Coors

The head of the Coors Brewing Company (search) has won the GOP primary in Colorado, in an effort to fill the Republican seat being vacated by Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. In November, Coors will be going up against Colorado's Democratic attorney general, Ken Salazar.

BARNES: You know, Coors in one way is like Alan Keyes in Illinois. He starts the race behind. Keyes way behind, Coors slightly behind. But at least he's from Colorado. You have to give him credit for that, Juan.

Now, Coors looks like a senator. And the truth is, he generated an enormous turnout in the primary, and he won overwhelmingly against a congressman...

WILLIAMS: Yes.

BARNES: ... a Republican congressman. So it was really an impressive win for him in the primary. He does have a drawback ... social conservatives, and there are a lot of them in the Republican Party, as you know, are -- don't like Coors because of the racy Coors Beers ads, you know, the ones you like so much.

WILLIAMS: Yes, oh, thank you for... You know, when I see those ads, it looks like everybody's drunk in them. But maybe...

BARNES: ... the -- yes, but in any case, and Coors now is going around being the champion of family values, and some of these conservatives, they, you know, those ads don't reflect our idea of family values.

WILLIAMS: Well, what's interesting to me about this race is, Colorado is a state that's trending Republican. But what you've got in Salazar is a man that's won two statewide contests, so he's known throughout the state of Colorado. Second thing that's interesting is here, what you've got is the potential to pick up for the Democrats...

BARNES: Yes.

WILLIAMS: ... in the Senate. It's a big pickup if they, if the Democrats can get Colorado, and polls indicate that Salazar is the man, that he will win that contest...

BARNES: Yes.

WILLIAMS: ... handily.

BARNES: You know, if Kerry wins that state, and Kerry's doing pretty well so far in Colorado, he could pull Salazar in with him. All right.

UP: National Sales Tax

President Bush has given new life to an old debate about replacing the federal income tax with a national sales tax. Here's Bush in Florida this past Tuesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: It's an interesting idea. You know, you know, I'm not exactly sure how big the national sales tax is going to have to be, but it's the kind of interesting idea that we ought to explore seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARNES: Yes, no, I think it's an interesting idea that we ought to explore seriously as well.

It's probably an idea whose time is coming but may not have come yet. And Denny Hastert, the House speaker, is a big fan of the national sales tax, which would replace the income tax. And clearly, I mean, this would be rocket fuel for the economy, because it would mean that savings and investment were not taxed at all. So ... it would really help.

Now, you'd have to adjust it, I mean, it could be incredibly regressive, because poor people and middle, and low-income people spend most of their income on consumption, and, and then be taxed more heavily than wealthier people ...

WILLIAMS: Well, I'm real glad to hear you say that.

BARNES: ... higher rate. So ... have to be adjusted to accommodate for that, and not punish low-income people.

WILLIAMS: Well, I agree with you 100 percent. But on the other hand, here's the positive aspect. It would do away with a lot of these loopholes, a lot of these tax breaks that the rich...

BARNES: Yes.

WILLIAMS: ... take advantage of.

BARNES: Yes.

WILLIAMS: When you went out and bought that fifth yacht for your place in Florida, Fred, you'd have to pay that high tax.

BARNES: Yes.

WILLIAMS: And therefore, there would be some measure of economic justice in there. But I must say, when you think about this idea, I think this is all part of President Bush trying to set forth an agenda for his second term. And so far, it's about ownership, it's about this kind of new taxation. I'm not sure it's really taking hold as a message. You talk about Kerry having trouble on some of his bumper-sticker...

BARNES: Yes.

WILLIAMS: ... politics. I'm not sure that the president really has a message, a vision of what the future would hold in a second Bush term.

BARNES: Yes, I think he's just sort of flirting with this idea of a national sales tax and won't ever come around to proposing it.

WILLIAMS: All right.

DOWN: New Jersey Governor James McGreevey

In a news conference Thursday with his second wife and his family at his side, he told the American public about an affair with a man and his plans to retire this November. Here's McGreevey from Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JAMES MCGREEVEY (D), NEW JERSEY: Given the circumstances surrounding the affair, and its likely impact upon my family and my ability to govern, I have decided the right course of action is to resign. To facilitate a responsible transition, my resignation will be effective on November 15 of this year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Well, two quick things, Fred. One is, I really felt for the wife. I feel for his kids ... I think this guy's been using his family like props for his political career. Just despicable, in my opinion.

BARNES: Right.

WILLIAMS: Second thing, though, is about the special election. That has real impact. His decision not to resign now but to wait...

BARNES: Yes.

WILLIAMS: ... until November 15, 10 days, really, or so after the presidential election...

BARNES: Yes.

WILLIAMS: ... what that means is that the president, president -- Senator Kerry and President Bush are not going to have to deal with the whole idea of an election that focuses on his sins and...

BARNES: Yes, right.

WILLIAMS: ... the foibles of Governor McGreevey.

BARNES: Yes. Look, if he needs to resign, he needs to resign right now. Putting it off till November 15 means one thing. It means the Democrat who's the leading -- a leader in the legislature will become the next governor.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

BARNES: Well, then, look, so you ought to have, if, if he's resigning, what's today, August 15 or so, he, he, he's putting it off for three months, till November 15? That's ridiculous. He ought to resign now.

WILLIAMS: Well, you've got to take advantage of that political power, Fred. And he's going to do it. And I can tell you what, it helps the Democrats, although I think New Jersey's pretty strong Democratic state.

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