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Transcript: Sens. Allen, Schumer on 'FNS'

The following is a transcribed excerpt of 'FOX News Sunday,' May 8, 2005.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: The fight over judicial nominations and a vote on Presidential Bush's controversial nominee for U.N. ambassador takes center stage this week as lawmakers return to Capitol Hill. Here to discuss these and other issues are Republican Senator George Allen of Virginia and Democratic Senator Charles Schumer, who joins us from our Fox News studio in his home state of New York.

Senators, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday." Good to have you both with us.

U.S. SENATOR GEORGE ALLEN, R-VA: Good to be with you.

WALLACE: Let's start with the Bolton nomination. This week, former Assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich came out of a closed- door session with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and blasted Democrats Joe Biden and Chris Dodd and their staffs for their handling of John Bolton. Let's take a look at what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OTTO REICH: This particular committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is known for selectively leaking information about nominees and twisting the information and conducting campaigns of character assassination against some of the nominees. They always leave — these Senators leave the dirty work to their staffers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Senator Allen, as a member of that panel, are Democrats involved in dirty work on the Bolton nomination?

ALLEN: What I've seen on the nomination of John Bolton is a lot of innuendo, hearsay and a lot of rumors. And every single one of their charges and allegations have been refuted. They want to avoid looking at John Bolton's outstanding record of performance as one who will actually bring to the United Nations accountability, which is great for the taxpayers.

We put in over $400 million a year into the United Nations. Twenty-two percent of its budget comes from the United States. And they do need reforming. And their credibility would actually be helped by John Bolton. John Bolton put together the Proliferation Security Initiative — 60 countries — to try to interdict weapons of mass destruction. He lead the effort to get the United Nations to repeal its odious resolution, which had Zionism likened to racism.

And so they've gotten off on tangents. And the sensibilities of people have been offended. They're upset that he called North Korea a repressive tyranny and that it was a hellish nightmare to live there. All true. And so they're off on tangents. And I'm hopeful that this week we'll have extended debate and we'll vote on John Bolton. And he'll be a great ambassador to the United Nations...

WALLACE: Senator Schumer, you're not on the committee. But as I'm sure you know, Democrats are threatening to hold up that promised vote for Thursday because they say Republicans are blocking their access to information they want to get out of the administration. But after 31 interviews and more than 600 pages of documents, doesn't John Bolton deserve an up-or-down vote?

U.S. SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER, D-NY: Well, let me say this: What's mainly getting in the way of John Bolton are not Democrats, even if every Democrat is opposed. What held up the vote last time was George Voinovich, a Republican. Two other members of the committee, Republican members Lincoln Chafee and Chuck Hagel have expressed doubts.

And then you have major Republican figures like Colin Powell, a team player if there ever was one, not endorsing Bolton. John McLaughlin, number two guy until recently at the CIA, known as a nonconfrontational person, saying that he doesn't deserve to be there. This goes way beyond Democrats and partisan issues.

WALLACE: Senator Allen, if the Democrats refuse to show up on Thursday, which there is some talk about and which would prevent the committee from meeting, what will Republicans do?

ALLEN: Well, we have to have a quorum. And if the Democrats take that approach, I think it is a sign of weakness and what their goal has been all along. And that is to delay it. I think that when get to Thursday, Senator Voinovich and others who may have some concerns will have reviewed all the information. They are fair-minded individuals. And I think they will accord the president an opportunity to put a person in who shares the views, I think, of the American people that the United Nations needs reforming, needs accountability.

WALLACE: But what do you do if there's no quorum and you can't vote?

ALLEN: Well, we have to wait until we get a quorum. And that may be a stalling obstruction tactic they take. They threatened to do that a few weeks ago, as well, and then showed up ultimately. I hope the Senators, all Senators, Republicans and Democrats, will show up on Thursday. They've had plenty of time to examine all sorts of documents — all the questions that you're talking about have been answered — and then make their own judgment and then let the Senate floor vote.

WALLACE: Let's talk about the other possible train wreck that the Senate is headed towards, and that's over judges. Senator Schumer, you gave the Democratic radio address yesterday.

And I want to put up on the screen some of what you had to say.

"While the president is in Europe promoting democracy," you said, "our democracy here at home is under attack. There is a whiff of extremism in the air, the likes of which we haven't seen in decades."

Senator, our democracy is under attack over judges?

SCHUMER: Yes, the bottom line here — and this goes beyond a fight as to who should be a judge — reasonable people can differ. What's happened is that a number of extreme groups have attacked judges, almost threatened them.

For instance, Pat Robertson said the judges are worse than terrorists who fly buildings into airplanes. Dobson compared them to the Ku Klux Klan. And even a couple of elected officials have said, well, you know, judges are going to get theirs if they don't decide what — the right way.

This is fundamentally against the independence of the judiciary, the checks and balances that this country is known for. And I think most Americans see that as extreme.

A debate on who should be a judge, a strong debate, with strongly held views, that's one thing. These kinds of attacks aren't called for. And we haven't heard a peep out of the Republican Party, the president or anybody else, denouncing these kinds of things.

When far leftists made crazy remarks, the Republicans always say, Democrats, denounce them. Well, where is it about these kinds of remarks, which are just as reprehensible?

WALLACE: Well, Senator, let me bring in Senator Allen on this, because you gave the commencement address yesterday at Regent University, which was founded by Reverend Pat Robertson.

And I want to put up on the screen what Robertson said, because he did in fact say that liberal judges are a greater threat to America than terrorists. Here's what Reverend Robertson said:

"I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that's held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings."

Senator Allen, simple question: Was Reverend Robertson right or wrong when he said that?

ALLEN: Well, I would not agree with his terrorist assessment. I don't think that judges are on the terrorist watch list that I see.

I think that...

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: Do you think that kind of remark is over the line?

ALLEN: I actually talked to Dr. Robertson about this. And he also wrote a letter back to Senator Lautenberg, who had written him on it. And I think this was taken out of context.

I think that what he was trying to point out is that in a 100- year period of time, what's the greater concern for this country? One might say it might be the character of the country, the integrity of the country.

But I would not agree with that characterization of our judges either.

The point here, though — and, in criticizing Dr. Robertson, he's not on the floor, he's not voting, but I have a responsibility as a United States senator to advise and consent on judicial nominations. And that has been denied me and the people of Virginia and the people of across this country for their senators to have the gumption and the backbone to get off their haunches and vote yes or vote no on these judges.

And we can debate Priscilla Owen or Janice Rogers Brown or other judicial nominations. But ultimately there ought to be a vote, there ought to be accountability, and we have waited three and four years on these nominations, and we've been prevented.

They have a majority of the senators in favor of them. And so far as getting into all these other issues, my speech yesterday at Regent University talked about the four pillars of a free and just society, which includes freedom of religion, freedom of expression, private ownership of property, and the rule of law. And the rule of law means the fair adjudication of disputes, as well as protection of our God-given rights, and we need judges who will apply the law, not invent it.

WALLACE: All right. I want to ask you both very briefly a simple vote-counting question.

And let me start with you, Senator Schumer. Do the Republicans have the votes now to impose the nuclear option and change the rules on judicial filibusters?

SCHUMER: Well, as best we can tell, Chris, they do not. There are five or six Republican senators who know deeply — because I've talked to some of them — how wrong this is. But they're under tremendous pressure from these way out groups, and who are very important these days in the Republican Party, and they haven't made up their mind.

The whole reason that Bill Frist hasn't brought it to the floor yet is, he does not have the votes, because of the heartfelt convictions of a handful of Republican senators who know deeply this is wrong.

WALLACE: And very briefly, Senator Allen, do you have the votes or don't you?

ALLEN: I think we have the votes.

And, by the way, aside from what my good friend Charlie Schumer has to say, as to who's motivating us, I was chairman of the Republican Senate committee the last two years. And whether I was in Cajun country in Southern Louisiana or the Black Hills of South Dakota or Alaska or, for that matter, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, I'd finish off speeches where we'd talk about less taxation, less litigation, leaders in innovation, finish with judges. People are motivated on this issue, and the architect of this obstruction, the chief obstructionist, Tom Daschle, is a former Democratic leader. And so I think the people of this country expect Republicans to act. We should not cower.

And I believe we'll have the votes in the event the Democrats continue with this approach. And in fact a majority of the people actually don't think it's a big deal to have 55, 56 senators vote for a nominee.

WALLACE: All right. We're running out of time, but I want to touch on one more thing, Senator Allen, and that is politics. The highly respected National Journal did a poll of Republican insiders, office-holders, pollsters, campaign managers, about who will win the Republican nomination in 2008. According to 85 Republicans, a fellow named George Allen finished first, ahead of John McCain, Bill Frist and Rudy Giuliani.

Senator Allen, one insider said the national media underestimate you, but the political pros don't.

ALLEN: Well, I found the results very surprising. So, it's flattering, however, I'm focused on the task at hand, and I'm up for re-election next year.

My father was a football coach. One of his key phrases was: The future is now. And so I'm paying attention to the task at hand, and the future will take care of itself.

WALLACE: Have you decided whether McCain or Frist or Giuliani will be your running-mate in 2008?

ALLEN: No, I haven't, Chris. But nice try.

SCHUMER: He won't ask me. I assure you of that.

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: I'm sorry. What did you say, Senator Schumer?

SCHUMER: I said he won't ask me. I assure you of that.

(LAUGHTER)

WALLACE: Well, that's probably true.

Senator Allen, Senator Schumer, thank you both very much for talking with us today. We appreciate it.