Political Panel Predicts Midterm Outcome

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," October 23, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

JULIE BANDERAS, GUEST HOST: With me now for their 2006 predictions and for a look ahead to 2008 is our all-star political panel here on "The Big Story": National Public Radio senior correspondent Juan Williams and Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review. Both are FOX News political analysts. And also, Brooke Oberwetter, a policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Gentlemen and lady, thank you so much for coming in and talking to us.

Rich, I want to start with you first because this Barron's newspaper came out with a pretty bold prediction, and they've been right many, many times in the past, that the GOP will take over or at least hold onto the Senate and the House. But you disagree, and you're a Republican.

RICH LOWRY, NATIONAL REVIEW EDITOR: Yes, well, a lot of Republicans want to believe this. They're anxious for any piece of good news they can hang onto. And look, the Republicans do have a fundraising advantage and that means something. But I think this Barron's survey really overestimates the power of money.

Historically, what matters most is the issue mix and the quality of the candidates involved. So just coming up with any formula entirely, you know, heavily based on money I don't think tells you that much.

BANDERAS: All right, but Juan, obviously the Democrats are kind of counting their chickens before they hatch. And they are kind of getting ahead of themselves. What do you think of this Barron's report? Do you think that it's accurate?

JUAN WILLIAMS, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Yes, well I think — you know, Julie, what Rich was saying is, money counts, but what would you use the money for at this point? The ads aren't exactly going to change anything. It's not like there's such a close election and people are up in the air. This is what some of the pollsters are calling a wave elections, and the wave is just sweeping over the Republicans at this point.


The vote effort and concentrate on districts and try to hold the line where they've got a Republican majority in terms of the electorate, or a close race where they could potentially make a difference. But it's the wave right now that counts.

BANDERAS: All right. And Brooke, the Libertarian vote, there's a great saying that this is not just a race between red and blue, that it's purple. A lot of people are thinking it's not just Republicans and Democrats that are running for re-election.

BROOKE OBERWETTER, COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Well, I think what we're looking at this year is a new trend, which is big government vs. bigger government. So I think the Libertarian vote is not going to be a real happy winner either way.

Regardless of the outcome two-and-a-half weeks from now, politicians are going to win every race, and that's not going to end up being good for many Libertarians.

BANDERAS: All right. Juan, let me ask you. You think Barack Obama will run for president?

WILLIAMS: You know, I don't have a crystal ball but I would say at this no. Here's the thing. He has got to put in place the money. We come back to the money. He's got to put in place money that would be comparable to the tremendous money that Hillary Clinton already has in hand, that her husband Bill Clinton will help her to raise. You know, she's been in the business of doing favors, giving people jobs, government grants. I mean, Barack Obama is a novice in this business at this level and so, you know, he's getting tremendous media attention. But at this point, you'd have to say — as much as he is an inspiring character, he's a media creation.

BANDERAS: All right. So Rich, Barack Obama, he talks about his American dream. Do you think his American dream is Hillary's worst nightmare?

LOWRY: I think that Hillary is probably nervous, probably, but not that nervous because Juan's right. He is a novice. But I think that at this point, Obama would really be foolish not to run because when you have a hot hand in politics, I'm a big believer that you should play it.

And nothing he's ever going to do, very likely, in the rest of his career, certainly his career in the Senate, is going to live up to any of this buzz he has at the moment, so he should try to cash it in. Even if he doesn't win the nomination, and he's likely not to, that oftentimes is an asset when you want to run later. So I think he should jump in.

BANDERAS: All right. Brooke, let me ask you. Those naysayers that are going to criticize him the second he puts his name on the ballot and comes out and officially says it, some could say he's too inexperienced, others could say he's too young. Then you got the odds, only two presidents, John F. Kennedy, Warren G. Harding were elected while serving as senators. Do you think all of these, I guess you could call these negatives or challenges, could hurt him? Do you think it will?

OBERWETTER: Well I think there's a factor that's going to hurt him probably much more, which is his tendency to really explain issues and care about what he's talking about, which isn't something you very often what you see in national campaigns. I think getting sound bites and easy to digest tidbits from Barack Obama is going to be nearly impossible. And unfortunately what the American people seem to like in a presidential election is a problem, a solution and a slap on the back in 10 seconds, and I don't think we're going to get that from Barack Obama, and I think it's going to be a problem for him.

BANDERAS: All right. Juan, let's move on to what — she hopes to be the first Madame Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. She's come out and criticized the Bush administration, criticized what we're doing in the war in Iraq. She's got John Kerry backing her as well. So we got a lot of Democrats that are attacking the current administration. But do you think that she stands a chance of becoming the first Madame Speaker?

WILLIAMS: Yes. Absolutely. I mean, in this competition, Steny Hoyer, those who are more conservative inside the Democratic Party are going to mount some kind of contest, but she has a very strong chance. And at this point, I mean, you look at the numbers. I think last week in the FOX, what was it, 70-plus percent said, we want some kind of course correction in Iraq. So that's not exactly anything that's going to buy people off of her. It's more her shrill voice, I think.

BANDERAS: All right. Do you think she's too loud? You think she's too liberal, Rich?

LOWRY: Yes, I certainly do. And you know, I thought if the Democrats actually succeeded in taking the House, there'd be a big honeymoon period for Nancy Pelosi. I didn't realize it was going to happen before the election, which is what you are seeing in the media, these huge, glowing profiles on "60 Minutes".

And you know, Republicans — if there's any doubt among Republicans out this election. Look at Nancy Pelosi, the first thing, or at least the most important thing Democrats are going to do, they're going to pass a huge amnesty for illegal immigrants in this country. And that's a hugely important item, and it's just one of many.

BANDERAS: All right Brooke, we've got 15 seconds. I'll give you the final word.

OBERWETTER: Well I think Rich makes a good point right there, of while Nancy Pelosi is out at Linens 'n Things buying curtains for her new office, there is nobody minding the store. There's nobody out there generating Democratic votes and I think that's what it's going to come down to in November.

BANDERAS: All right. Well thank you so much Brooke Oberwetter, Juan Williams, Rich Lowry, the experts here on "The Big Story," our all-star panel. Thank you so much.

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