This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," August 11, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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CHRIS WALLACE, GUEST HOST: Well, Jeanine Pirro (search) says she’s serious about challenging Hillary Rodham Clinton (search) for the U.S. Senate next year. The Republican Westchester County district attorney says she is red on fiscal policy and blue on social issues. But does she stand a chance?
For answers, we turn to Fred Dicker, the state editor of the New York Post and an expert on New York politics.
And, Fred, thanks for joining us.
FRED DICKER, NEW YORK POST STATE EDITOR: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: So how does Jeanine Pirro make a race against Hillary Clinton? And does she stand a realistic chance?
DICKER: Well, it’s extremely difficult. I think it’s fair to say that privately few, in any, Republicans, Chris, think she can win. Her best hope is something unexpected happening to Mrs. Clinton that leads to her to stumble and fall on her face. Right now, she faces a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 2 million votes.
Hillary Clinton is very, very popular. Most of the polls have shown her about 60, 65 percent. So it’s going to take something along the lines of a political miracle for Jeanine Pirro to win.
WALLACE: Well, all right. Let’s take a look at the latest Marist poll (search), which — let’s put it up on the screen. It’s out yesterday. And that shows where the race stands now. And that is, Senator Clinton with a big lead over Jeanine Pirro, 50 percent to 28.
And let’s take a look at another part of the poll. Voters don’t seem that convinced of one of Pirro’s big issues, that Hillary Clinton is just using New York as a steppingstone to the White House. Thirty-nine percent say the senator should pledge to serve a full term and not run for president, but 44 percent say she doesn’t have to make that pledge.
So, Fred, what do you make of that?
DICKER: Well, two things. One, a bigger poll last week had Hillary Clinton at about 63 percent. And a lot of people in the political community, Chris, are scratching their heads to think that New Yorkers are going to be angry at Hillary Clinton because she may be able to become the most important political figure in the United States is hard for anybody to understand.
Hillary Clinton’s a popular figure here. If she could run and become president, who’s going to hold ambition against a politician? So people think that Jeanine Pirro either doesn’t have a lot of good issues, so she had to focus on this one, or she’s making a major blunder, because this is not an issue that’s going to turn New York voters around.
WALLACE: Fred, Pirro got off to a somewhat rocky start in her...
DICKER: A stumbling start.
WALLACE: ... in her formal announcement yesterday, when suddenly, as she’s reading her prepared announcement, a page was missing. Let’s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEANINE PIRRO (R), U.S. SENATORIAL CANDIDATE FOR NEW YORK: You will know where I stand on the issues for making tax cuts permanent to guaranteeing our children the education they deserve by holding schools accountable for the jobs that we entrust them with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: And that went on for 32 seconds, which I’m sure seemed like 30 minutes to everybody in the room, Fred. Is Jeanine Pirro up to taking on the Clinton machine?
DICKER: Ready for primetime. Six years ago, when Rick Lazio (search) ran against Hillary Clinton, he kicked off his campaign by literally falling on his face. This was figuratively seen the same way.
It appeared to a lot of people that her decision to run for the Senate, Chris, was hasty. They weren’t prepared, bad staff work. She can recover from this, but the problem for her now is if she stumbles again, that everybody’s going to say, "Critical mass, a-ha, she’s not ready for primetime. She’s not ready to take on Hillary Clinton."
WALLACE: And then, of course, there is the issue of the two husbands. President Clinton, the spouse of Hillary Clinton, comes in with obvious own baggage. But Jeanine Pirro isn’t free and clear on this, either. Her husband, Al Pirro (search), actually spent 11 months in prison for hiding $1 million in taxable income.
Question, Fred: Will New York voters care about either of the spouses?
DICKER: Yes. I think they will. I think that Bill Clinton is very, very popular here in New York. They care about that. As I said, it’s a Democratic state.
Bill Clinton was out today, in effect campaigning for his wife, giving interviews, talking about her. Al Pirro, Jeanine Pirro’s husband, was nowhere to be seen. He’s in, at least figurative, hiding. And I think people care about it.
And, of course, the scuttlebutt — and it’s not based on anything that I know of — but people are wondering, he’s had three major strikes against him, an out-of-wedlock child, a felony conviction on tax evasion, allegations that he was leaking information to the mob from his wife’s office, which he denies. But people are wondering, could there be something else there? If there is, it just could be devastating for Mrs. Pirro.
WALLACE: So what you’re saying, Fred, is that President Clinton (search) is actually the clean spouse in this contest here?
DICKER: He’s a positive here in New York, actually.
WALLACE: Jeanine Pirro, first of all, has to win the Republican primary. And she is running against Ed Cox (search), who most people have never heard of. He is a lawyer and the son-in-law of the late president, Richard Nixon. Any problems there?
DICKER: Well, there are problems for Ed Cox there. Number one, I don’t think any Republicans have heard of him, either, or very few. And it’s not exactly a plus here in New York to be associated with Richard Nixon, however brilliant and honorable he may be in the view of revisionist historians, maybe.
He doesn’t have much support. He says he’s in this to the end. A lot of people are skeptical, Chris, that he can raise the money, get the Republican support to even get on the ballot to challenge Jeanine Pirro in a primary.
WALLACE: So it looks like a long, uphill climb for Jeanine Pirro, Fred Dicker, but she should make it interesting. Thank you so much for giving us an early insight into the race.
DICKER: Thank you.
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