This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," January 26, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: A new roadblock on the road map to peace. The victory of the radical Hamas party in Ramallah poses yet another challenge for the White House. So what options does the president have?
We're joined by Republican strategist Rich Galen and Democratic strategist Steve McMahon. Rich, before Steve tells you "I told you so," what is it that you would recommend to the president to get out of this deal of, you know, got to have democracy and then they go and elect Hamas?
RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, that's what happens when you have democracy. But, you know, Hamas was elected not because, I mean, from people that have been there in my reading of The Jerusalem Post online all day Thursday, was that all politics is still local. They were providing hospitals and schools and housing and they did what a local political party's supposed to do and they were rewarded for it.
GIBSON: Well how come the president can't say, "We'll deal with the nice guy Hamas, but we won't deal with the bad guy Hamas?"
GALEN: Well, they've got to now say, "OK, we're going to act like a full-fledged party that's leading a country." It's like the end of that movie "The Candidate" when Robert Redford says, "What happens now?"
And I'll tell you another thing, and then I'll let Steve go. What I think now is that the really largely anti-Semitic factions in Europe who have been anti-Israel throughout this struggle now are going to have to say to Hamas, "OK, you guys, you got what you wanted, now you've got to play like grownups or else we're going to ..."
GIBSON: Hey Steve, you know some of this kind of strikes me as, "Are we just gasping over something that we actually deal with all the time?" You know, "Oh, my God, we're dealing with Hamas." You mean we never deal with terrorist organizations? Or ones that have terror roots?
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I'd love to be able to say, "I told you so" to Rich, but unfortunately I'm pretty much with him on this one. I think this is one that's unique because of our special relationship with Israel.
And I actually think the president Thursday did a pretty good job in laying down a marker saying, "You're going to have to renounce violence, you're going to have to recognize Israel's right to exist. And even then you're going to have to behave yourself or your foreign aid from this country, at least, might be in jeopardy."
GIBSON: That's quite a lot, isn't it?
MCMAHON: It is quite a lot and, you know, I don't know often — well I don't actually know how much it is.
GIBSON: It's in the billions, right?
MCMAHON: I don't think it's in the billions, but it's a very significant amount to them. And I don't often praise this president, but Thursday, you know, he stood up and did what he should do.
GIBSON: Hey, Rich?
MCMAHON: I mean, it hurts me to say that, it pains me.
GIBSON: There's McMahon saying Bush did the right thing. I mean, the blogs are going to go nuts.
MCMAHON: I know, I hate that when he agrees with me. I have to rethink my whole position. No, but here's the thing. I mean, Hamas has got to now expand what it was doing. I mean, they've got to go from neighborhood to neighborhood to running a whole country, which means — and this is to Steve's point.
Now they've got to think about the entire country's infrastructure. Water, sewage, electricity, jobs. I mean, now they've got a big, a lot of stuff on their plate and we'll see whether or not they're up to the challenge.
GIBSON: So when Israel now, Steve, targets Hamas, when they send up a helicopter with a missile that fires at a vehicle that's carrying two Hamas leaders, and they've done an awful lot of that over the last couple of years, are they attacking a part of the Palestinian government?
MCMAHON: Well, you know what, I suppose that depends upon a lot of factors, John, that I couldn't imagine right now. I mean, certainly if they are part of the government, that's different than if they are part of the Hamas. You know, it's going to be interesting to see what happens inside Hamas, I guess. You're going to have people who are going to have to actually provide these services and provide a government and they're going to have to be mindful of foreign aid money from the United States.
GIBSON: OK, Rich, look, you were part of the coalition provisional authority. Same kind of problem. So you get an election and groups you don't like win. How do you deal with that?
GALEN: You have to deal with it. I mean, that's the nature of democracy. Sometimes you get results that you don't particularly want. I guarantee that Steve thinks that in the last two presidential elections, he didn't get the results he wanted. But you live with what you got and you try to work with it.
Let's go back to your business about sending missiles down. You know, the Israelis did that in response to terrorist attacks by Hamas and others. They didn't do that just with alacrity. So assuming Hamas does not actually, you know, send suicide bombers into Bat Mitzvahs, that's not likely to happen.
GIBSON: Rich Galen and Steve McMahon, thanks to both of you guys, appreciate it.
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