This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from March 28, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
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DEFENSE SECRETARY DONALD RUMSFELD: Today, the men and women serving in this Department of Defense, mourn the death of former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Cap Weinberger was a friend. His extensive career in public service, his support for the men and women in uniform, and his central role in helping to win the Cold War leave a lasting legacy. He left the United States armed forces stronger, our country safer, and the world more free.
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JIM ANGLE, GUEST HOST: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld paying tribute to one of his most famous predecessors, Cap Weinberger, who died today at age 88. We also learned today of the death of former Reagan spokesman and political advisor Lyn Nofziger, a one-of-a kind character.
And all that came on a day when the current White House made some key changes at the top, all things we want to take up with Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard and a FOX News contributor.
Bill, thanks for coming in.
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: My pleasure.
ANGLE: Let me ask you fist about Cap Weinberger. He was at the center of — I think it’s fair to say — one of the boldest moves in modern history. And that was an effort to rapidly increase U.S. defense spending in the early 80’s, in an attempt, as it turned out, to basically spend the Soviet Union into bankruptcy.
KRISTOL: That was Cap Weinberger’s strategy. He insisted on it, and it worked. And as Don Rumsfeld said, he deserves an awful lot of credit for the peaceful victory in the Cold War, one of the really great achievements of American history. That was Cap Weinberger’s. He beat back efforts within the administration to curb the defense...
ANGLE: There were a lot of Republicans who were against him.
KRISTOL: Absolutely. Dave Stockman. There were these famous arguments in front of President Reagan. Dave Stockman, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, against Cap Weinberger. And Weinberger won each time. He did have the backing of President Reagan, which sure helped, and big fights with Congress.
Don’t forget, it was a Democratic House. Democrats won back the Senate in ‘86. Lots of complaints that the defense build-up was wasteful, the $600 toilet seat. All of that. Weinberger was a fighter. He fought for a strong defense, and he was vindicated.
ANGLE: And that was the most rapid defense build-up in peacetime history, was it now?
KRISTOL: It was. Peace through strength. And winning the Cold War through strength. It was really an impressive accomplishment, the culmination of a really distinguished career going way back.
The other thing I would say about Cap Weinberger, whom I knew some, not closely, he was a gentleman. A patriot and a gentleman in the old-fashioned sense. That’s someone we can be proud to have had as a public servant, and really for his role in winning the Cold War, I think a really significant public in our modern history.
ANGLE: Now, we also lost Lyn Nofziger, who was quite a character. You’ve seen him around Washington. He worked for Governor Reagan, then President Reagan for a while, was a long-time political adviser. A former newspaper guy, always in a sort of rumpled sport coat, cigar in his mouth, a Mickey Mouse tie, a Mickey Mouse watch, and a real character.
KRISTOL: He was terrific. When I came to Washington in 1985, it was to work for Bill Bennett, who had recently become secretary of education for President Reagan. Lyn was already out of the Reagan administration, but was a friend of Bill Bennett’s, a patron of his. He was a fellow conservative.
And I remember I met Lyn first with Bill Bennett. Bill invited him over for lunch. And Bill got advice for him. It had to deal with the press, which was really on Bill’s case at that point. I can’t even repeat anything Lyn said because it was all unrepeatable in the family hour on television. But he was terrific. And his advice was to keep on fighting.
You know what — Lyn was a wonderful character. But what strikes me about both Cap and Lyn, they were fighters. And we look back, and it was the Reagan years, and it was good for America. And they both had wonderful and fulfilled lives.
But, you know, they were under huge amounts of pressures, Cap Weinberger when he was building up our defenses, Lyn Nofziger working for Governor Reagan and then President Reagan, fighting the mainstream media, fighting Congress, fighting conventional wisdom. And they didn’t back down.
ANGLE: Yes, it was a very controversial time.
ANGLE: And they were swimming upstream for a good part of it.
KRISTOL: They were. They fought. And it’s a good lesson for us today. I was at the White House today, and people were saying, "I’m not sure we can make that case. The media won’t really listen to us." Cap Weinberger and Lyn Nofziger weren’t deterred by that.
KRISTOL: I think everyone respects Andy Card and likes him personally. And I think he serves his president well. I think it’s a good move. They were tired; they needed a change. The conventional wisdom, I’d say from people I’ve talked to today is not such a big change.
After all, Josh Bolten was Andy Card’s deputy originally. They’re both Bush loyalists. Is it a big deal? I think it could be a bigger deal than people think. This is the first of a series of changes. And I think we could end up with a much more combative and aggressive administration than we’ve had in the last few months.
ANGLE: It is interesting. The White House suggested today — and this may seem — it may be more remarkable than it seems to some people — suggested that Josh Bolten had the authority to make additional changes. For a White House that doesn’t usually say anything about this sort of thing, that sounds like a warning of things to come.
KRISTOL: Oh, absolutely. I think Scott McClellan, the press spokesman, who’s again a very nice fellow, but I think has been pretty badly battered over the last year or so. I believe he’ll be leaving very shortly. I’m sure Josh will want to put someone stronger in there.
The domestic policy job is open now, another chance to really rejuvenate the White House. And I think Josh understands the communications failure of this White House. There’s been a failure, you can systematically make the case, on lots of issues ranging from the economy to the war. I think this could be the beginning of a series of changes, and it could be a good moment for the president.
ANGLE: Josh is both a sort of a policy wonk, self-described, and much more attuned to what people on Capitol Hill have to say and what they think and their sensitivities.
KRISTOL: I guess. He’s political. He’s also a policy wonk. He dated Bo Derek and rides a Harley. He’s an interesting character. I like him very much. Everyone thinks very highly of him, as they did of Andy. But I think with Josh, he’s really had — that’s a tough job running OMB, the Office of Management and Budget. He’s done as good a job as he could under very difficult constraints.
But I think he has the sense, I’m told by people who — I haven’t talked directly to him about this, but I’m told by people who spoke with him, he has a sense that they were on the defensive, that they’ve been floundering a bit in the last several months.
So I don’t think he’s going to come in with the sense, "Let’s just keep on doing what we were doing." And I think the president putting him in there means something. This isn’t a president who changes advisers easily, and I don’t think he would do this just as a ward-off deal. So I think this is the beginning of a series of changes in the sense that there needs to be a new start to the Bush second term.
ANGLE: Bill Kristol, thanks very much.
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