This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 12, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.
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TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, you are going wrong in a couple places.
First, you know, I wouldn't place a whole lot of stock in public opinion polls in Iraq. They're notoriously uneven. But let's talk about what's actually going on.
Your primary concern, and you hit on it, is security. The president last year took a look at what was going on in Iraq and said, you know what? This isn't working we need to do something better. So he put together a plan and we finally got all the forces in the field three weeks ago for securing that plan.
Now what has happened since we started? I'll tell you what's happened. There have been changes that directly refute your characterization of the Iraqi people. For instance, when it comes to standing up against terror, did you know that the Iraqi forces, security forces are taking three to four times the casualties and fatalities that the Americans are and increasingly they're on the front lines.
Or how about this? When there has been a sense that the Americans and Iraqis are going to fight for freedom on part of the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people when posed with a choice between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government they've chosen the Iraqi government. Think about Anbar Province. Last November written off. Everybody said it's wholly owned and operated by al Qaeda.
But when it became clear we were putting more forces in, what happened? The local tribal leaders said, thank God you're here, they're killing our people. They're invaders, they're desecrating Islam. They are humiliating our people. Help us out.
What's happened now? They've put al Qaeda to route and all of a sudden Anbar is something that we're pointing to as a success story. Markets are opening, people have political rights. And you know what they're saying to Americans? They're saying thank you. Same thing is starting to go on in Diyala Province, similarly in neighborhoods in Baghdad. Same pattern.
O'REILLY: All right. Look. Nobody is saying the United States military hasn't done a terrific job and that they have secure areas in Iraq. But you know and everybody knows who studies military history that no terrorist movement can exist, particularly al Qaeda who are all outsiders. They're not Iraqi. Everybody in Iraq knows who al Qaeda is. There are a couple of thousand of them in the country. They're not being informed on. Somebody's hiding them.
And you cannot — look at Northern Ireland. Tony, come on. Thirty years they were bombing and bombing and bombing and it was only when the women in Northern Ireland told the guys better stop it or we're kicking you out of the house that it stopped.
You can't win. No one could. No nation could unless t Iraqi people turn on all the terrorists. And they're not. They're not, Tony.
SNOW: What I have just told you, Bill, is what they need is a sense you are there to stay, you are in there to fight and you are in there to win. Just told you about Anbar. I told you about Diyala. There is safety in the north, there is safety in the south .
O'REILLY: We don't have any dispute with that. But look, this government has been running up for three years now. We had a $250 .
SNOW: Wait a minute, the government - no, no no.
O'REILLY: $250 million robbery yesterday in Baghdad. Come on, $250 million robbery. They're robbing the oil. They're ripping the oil off. This is a corrupt country, Tony.
SNOW: Bill, the government took shape last June. It's not three years old. It's not even-a year old.
O'REILLY: When did they vote? When did they vote?
SNOW: They voted in December of 2005. Remember you had a constitutional vote then you had parliamentary votes then the people with the purple finger.
So this is a new government, actually in early 2006 they finally got the vote and it took until June. But look, we're wasting time here. The fact is that the Iraqi government has taken — they understand there's a corruption problem. The prime minister has cleaned out the Ministry of the Interior which has a police force. Why? Because of corruption. He has cleaned out the Economic Ministry. Why? Because of corruption.
It is a new state - you are absolutely right. There are going to be people trying steal them blind. But that is not every person in Iraq.
O'REILLY: No. It isn't every person. But we don't have the hearts and minds there. It's like South Vietnam. It's the same thing. There were a lot of South Vietnamese helping us. A lot fought and died on our side but there wasn't enough of them to prevent the communists which were more united.
Now, I have to ask you, how do you think you're going to win back the Republican senators and congressmen as well who are defecting because they feel that this Iraq thing is going to wipe out the Republican Party not only for the 2008 presidential election but next November. How are you going to win them back?
SNOW: A couple of things, Bill. Number one I'm not sure that we've quote lost them. They want to win in Iraq, too. But they want demonstration that the plan we have going forward is going to produce success. The most important thing a president has to do is to protect the American people. And he understands that everybody wishes this war weren't happening. But it is. Everybody wishes al Qaeda didn't want to kill us. But they do.
And so the president's most solemn obligation is to keep the country safe. One of the things we need to do and will be doing is giving people a fuller picture of what's going on in Iraq. You know what happens, Bill? People see scenes of dead American soldiers, they see scenes of carnage.
O'REILLY: I know that.
SNOW: What they don't see are the successes.
SNOW: What they don't see is the progress. And it's important they get that mental picture.
O'REILLY: It's fair enough. And we will give you equal time for that. I scolded most of the media for doing the explosion du jour without context. You know the "Washington Post" were all upset. Tough. You're right. They do. But I don't like this poll of the Iraqis and I don't like the performance of the Iraq government.
Now one more thing. There is a national intelligence estimate that says al Qaeda is just as strong as it was before 9/11. That's not a good reflection on the Bush administration if that's true. That means you haven't degraded them in six years.
SNOW: A, it's not true and B, it's not a national intelligence estimate. So I hope that makes you feel better. The president talked about it today. Al Qaeda is weaker than it was on September 11th, 2001. Its capabilities have been degraded. But the fact is it has been dispersed around the globe, it's become more of a franchise operation. They still want to kill us. You saw that in Glasgow a couple weeks ago. The most important thing for Americans is always remain vigilant.
You've got to understand that al Qaeda is patient, it is hateful and it feeds on blood lost.
O'REILLY: All right.
SNOW: And it's important for us to make sure — But for those who think it's stronger, no, it's not as strong, that's why its leader is in hiding.
O'REILLY: Tony, how are you feeling?
SNOW: Feeling good, Bill. And of course coming on here makes me always feel better.
O'REILLY: At least it gets that verve up there. We wish you the best, Tony, thank you.
SNOW: Thanks buddy.
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