Ups and Downs for the Week of March 6

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys," March 11, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Let’s check out our ups and downs.

DOWN: Iran. Fresh threats and continued defiance from Iran as the U.N. Security Council gets ready to act on the nuclear standoff.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Well, we’ve got one great thing going for us in this confrontation, and that is Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is, frankly, nuts. Do you know that he tells his ambassadors around the world to lecture foreign diplomats about how there is — there was no Holocaust? And, you know, what the foreign diplomats conclude is that this guy is off his rocker and he’s going to acquire nuclear weapons.

BARNES: You’re serious about this…

KONDRACKE: I know. Well, that’s, that’s how we’re going to get sanctions because I think even the Russians and the Chinese may conclude, I hope they’ll conclude, that this guy’s not to be trusted with nuclear weapons, and we’ve got to stop him.

BARNES: Well, the clock is ticking and if we’re going to get any sanctions they need to be severe and they need to come pretty quickly.

I mean, look, the Israelis have a vested interest in this guy not getting nuclear weapons. And they think there’s about nine months before he will have weapons-grade uranium or, or plutonium. Well, they’re not going to wait nine months. They’d, I mean, their span for doing something is about six months. They have the capability of doing great damage to all the nuclear facilities there.

But if the weapons-grade material is already created, it can be hidden. It, you know, it’s not some huge, and it’s not that bulky, in other words. It can be hidden. And so something’s got to happen quickly here. Look, I hate to farm this out to the Israelis, but I think the United States has to get ready to use military force if necessary.

KONDRACKE: UP: Republican Congressman Tom DeLay. Much to the dismay of Democrats and the mainstream media, reports of DeLay’s political demise were greatly exaggerated. DeLay easily beat his GOP rivals in the Texas primary this week.

BARNES: Mort, how much dismay did you suffer when you saw that DeLay had over 60 percent?

KONDRACKE: I knew he was going to win. I thought it was going to be less than 62 percent, but...

BARNES: OK, so only minimal dismay.


BARNES: But, you know, DeLay was so confident that he was going to win, he was back here in Washington, voted on the Patriot Act. He wasn’t hanging around Texas, you know, going to the polls up until the time they closed.

And I think 62 percent is enough to make him a strong favorite in the general election over Democrat Nick Lampson, who was a defeated Texas congressman from another district who moved into suburban Houston, one of the most conservative areas in the country, where I think they can more than say — like where I live in northern Virginia, right outside Washington, inside the Beltway — they find it easier there to brush aside the media and Democratic criticism, even your criticism of Tom DeLay.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, look, DeLay got 55 percent in 2002, I’m sorry, in 2004, that was before the Abramoff scandal really broke. So, you know, this could be a close race. And more encouraging to me was that Henry Cuellar, a, a moderate centrist Democrat in, in heavily Hispanic area, beat the leftwing candidate, Ciro Rodriguez, which should tell the Democratic Party something about where its future lies, toward the middle, not toward the far left

BARNES: Is this where they used that picture...

KONDRACKE: Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

BARNES: ... against...

KONDRACKE: And they used the picture of Bush at the State of the Union message with Cuellar. They tried to use it against him, didn’t work.

BARNES: That’s a crazy picture. I hope. Has Bush ever done that to you? I’d slug him.

Anyway, DOWN: Republican Congresswoman Katherine Harris of Florida. Poor poll numbers, lackluster fundraising and political blunders continue to take their toll on Harris’s flagging Senate campaign. But perhaps the most damaging development yet, Vice President Dick Cheney pointedly not mentioning Harris from the podium at an event in Naples, Florida, this week.

You know, the White House, meaning Karl Rove, and Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, who’s the head of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, have made a Herculean effort to find another candidate, because they don’t believe Katherine Harris can win. All the elected officials in Texas, in Florida, except one, and that’s the incumbent senator, Bill Nelson, all the rest are Republicans.

You would think they could find somebody who would run who might be able to do better than Katherine Harris, who isn’t quite as controversial, who could raise more money, and would win that red state.

KONDRACKE: I have a great idea.

BARNES: Well, go ahead.

KONDRACKE: Run, Jeb, run. Now, look, if Jeb Bush leaves the governorship and runs and becomes a senator, he spends 10 years in the Senate, he waits for “Bushophobia” to evaporate, and then he runs for president in 2016, after Hillary’s done. So then we’ll go from Bush to Clinton to Bush to Clinton to Bush.

You know, the rest of American history is just sort of laid out for us there.

BARNES: I like it. I want to mention one more thing about this race to show you where it stands right now, and that is, the latest poll, I think it was in February, shows Bill Nelson, who’s a weak incumbent, 22 points ahead of Katherine Harris. That’s the problem. They need another candidate, I think.

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