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Transcript: Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama on Super Tuesday II; John McCain Goes After Obama on Iraq

This is a rush transcript from "The Beltway Boys", March 1, 2008, that has been edited for clarity.

FRED BARNES, FOX CO-HOST: Coming up on "The Beltway Boys," it's do or die for Hillary Clinton, as four more states head to the polls on Tuesday. Can she stop Obama's winning streak, or is it curtains for the former first lady?

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX GUEST CO-HOST: John McCain is acting like he knows who his competitor will be in November. We'll tell you how McCain and Obama are already going at it.

BARNES: President Bush says we're not in a recession. We'll give you our two cents.

WILLIAMS: Yet another setback in federal efforts to beef up border security.

BARNES: "The Beltway Boys" are next, after the headlines.

(NEWSBREAK)

BARNES: I'm Fred Barnes.

WILLIAMS: I'm Juan Williams, in for Mort Kondracke. Tonight, we're "The Beltway Boys."

BARNES: Hot story number one, moment of truth. Obviously, for Hillary Clinton. This week, we'll see the voter goes to the polls in the Democratic presidential race in four states. See them here on the screen, Texas, Ohio, Vermont, Rhode Island. 446 delegates at stake.

Hillary Clinton, desperate needs to win Texas and Ohio. The other two would help. She's trailing Barack Obama in the delegate count. You can see it here. About 100 delegates that she's behind. Hard to pick up delegates when it's not winner take all in the states.

The FOX polls on the states, the latest are mixed. Clinton's leading in Ohio, but trails in Texas.

Juan, I think the problem for Hillary Clinton is every avenue of attack that she's used against Obama failed, whether it's inexperience, whether it's his speeches are empty, or plagiarized.

WILLIAMS: Plagiarized.

BARNES: Or they have differences on healthcare, which they don't. Now she's at it again in this Texas ad. It's about inexperience. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AD NARRATOR: It's 3:00 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep. But there is a phone in the White House and its ringing. Something is happening in the world. Your vote decides who will answer the call. Whether it's someone who knows the world's leader, knows the military, someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world. It's 3:00 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARNES: Obama's response was instance. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The question is not about picking up the phone. The question is what kind of judgment will you exercise when you pick up that phone? In fact, we have had a red phone moment. It was the decision to invade Iraq. Senator Clinton gave the wrong answer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARNES: Pretty good, huh? What is even better is when Obama in the televised debates slams back at one of Hillary Clinton's responses. There he's been more impressive. The best one -- they had 20 debates. The best single moment of a rejoinder by Obama was the debate in Cleveland a couple nights ago where he had been asked if he rejected the support of nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan, with his anti-Semitic views. and he said he denounced the views. That wasn't good enough for Hillary Clinton. Here is what she said and the response. Watch. This is good.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is a difference between renouncing and rejecting.

OBAMA: I don't see a difference between renouncing and rejecting. There is no formal offer of help from Minister Farrakhan that would involve me rejecting it. If the world reject Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word denounce, I'm happy to concede the point. I would reject and denounce.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARNES: That was quick. That was devastating. He blew her away.

WILLIAMS: I don't know about blew her away. I thought he looked cool and in command. It was a difficult moment. Because that's a racially charged one. I think it's for the Jewish community, their relationship with Obama.

Hillary Clinton is on to something with the ad we saw a moment ago, with the phone ringing in the White House at 3:00 a.m. Even Barack Obama's most reverent supporters cite his lack of experience, especially with regard to foreign policy, as a major concern they have.

In fact, a Pew poll this week asked for people with a one-word description of candidates and when it came to Barack Obama, 45 percent said inexperienced. You can expect John McCain to exploit this weakness. We'll talk about that in the next segment a little bit.

Remember, McCain said he had eloquent and empty calls for change. I'm surprised to hear Fred, Fred, my friend, saying you think it's a great response when Barack Obama is saying when the phone rang that the wrong call made by McCain and President Bush on Iraq. I know you don't believe that, but glad to say that because Republicans are pumping up Barack Obama.

I want you to think about this, Fred. You've been around just as I've been around. You've been around this town and you know that that ad was made by Roy Spence. Roy Spence made an ad that was very effective for another Democrat way back in 1984. That was Mondale versus Gary Hart. It worked for Mondale against Hart. And Mark Penn, Hillary's campaign manager and ad executive, has no doubt tested this. The key here is, remember, Barack Obama, even with the momentum he's had, 11 straight victories, has a problem closing the sale, Fred. Last 24 to 48 hours, what we see, even in Wisconsin was that voters who made late decisions about who to vote for went to Hillary Clinton. This ad will exploit that. This might be the ticket. Of course, she's desperate.

BARNES: Late voters may go for Hillary Clinton, but Obama wins.

WILLIAMS: I don't know.

BARNES: He won in Wisconsin. If someone asked me one word to come to my mind, one of two words with Obama, first is likable. The second would be liberal. Voters don't care about experience much.

Here's a question for you. Hillary Clinton is ahead in Ohio and Rhode Island and everyone thinks she's ahead in Vermont. If she wins three out of four and not Texas, is it enough to stay in the race? Or is it over for her?

WILLIAMS: If she doesn't win Texas and Ohio, she's a goner. Bill Clinton said as much. The key is psychological. Barack Obama, as you know, won 11 in a row. Some of them are small states. But he started to make inroads with white voters and the life. If she can't win Texas right now, the psychology of it is he is still on a roll. Then you see the superdelegates fleeing her campaign. Then it becomes untenable.

BARNES: I suspect three out of four is enough for her to stay for Pennsylvania. But you might be right. I don't feel that strongly about it.

Coming up, Barack Obama and John McCain have yet to wrap up their respective nominations, but it hasn't stopped the two from going a few rounds this week. We tell you who came out on top, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: Welcome back to "The Beltway Boys."

Hot story number two, battle of the titans. Fred, what got the situation started after the debate on Tuesday night, on Wednesday John McCain said that Barack Obama, during the Democratic debate, said he plans to pull troops out of Iraq, but he's willing to send them back if al-Qaeda was to establish a front in Iraq.

Now, this prompted John McCain to jump on Barack Obama, take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MCCAIN, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, let me get this right. Senator Obama wants to leave immediately from Iraq, but if al-Qaeda is in Iraq, then he would consider going back. Obviously, that's -- that's not logical.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

That prompted Obama to jump back on John McCain and mention that John McCain had the quote in which he said that he was willing to have a 100-year commitment if necessary U.S. presence in Iraq. Here is Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: When John McCain says I'm willing to stay there 100 years, understand what that means. We are talking about trillions of dollars. Not billions. Trillions of dollars. And that is not sustainable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: So what you've got here, it looks like they already think they've got a general election campaign going, forget Hillary Clinton apparently. I think it's a little presumptuous, by the way, but you're seeing is a narrative.

Last week, there was an interesting moment where John McCain said, if I can't persuade the American people that the surge is working, then, quote, "I lose, I lose." Now he later tried to take it back, but it was a genuinely revealing moment about what John McCain feels he has to do to win as the Republican candidate in the race.

BARNES: Fortunately, for John McCain, the surge is working famously and sweepingly. Before I get back to that, let me mention these -- a couple of poll. We're now seeing several that show Barack Obama head-to-head with John McCain. One taken last week, late last week by the "L.A. Times" shows the race with John McCain beating Obama by two points, 4-42. And in a match-up with Hillary Clinton, he beats her by six points. Another argument that may go to superdelegates for Obama, particularly if he wins Texas on Tuesday.

Now, I think the surge is going to be a greater problem in the general election for Barack Obama. I'm being presumptuous in assuming he will be the nominee. Be a problem for Hillary Clinton, actually, in the same way. A bigger problem for him than it is going to be for John McCain.

Now, remember, Barack Obama said the surge would not work. He's opposed it. Even right up until today too. And he voted at least once to defund it. The surge created great military success and led to steps toward reconciliation between the Shia and Sunnis. If that progress continues, Iraq will look completely different, a place where we're winning substantially in the fall.

What does Obama do? Well, the Democratic left is still going to be against the surge and the war as much as ever. And he may have to stick with them and still denounce the surge. But that will make him look defeatist if the surge is still working as it is now and working even better. And he'll look like he's out of touch with the reality in Iraq.

And the problem is not the hardcore Democrats. They'll stick with Obama. But the Independents who will move to McCain, if the surge is winning and Obama doesn't recognize that.

WILLIAMS: This sounds like the Fred Barnes I know. A minute ago when the phone was ringing in that ad, you thought that Obama had a great answer and all. I think you're so anxious to get Hillary Clinton off the table -- the Republicans just hate Hillary Clinton.

BARNES: How could you say that?

WILLIAMS: I've injured you.

BARNES: I'm hurt.

WILLIAMS: In fact, let me surprise you here. I have to say that the polls right now support your position, Fred Barnes. Because the Pew poll, the Pew poll I referenced earlier, indicates right now there are more Americans, because of the surge and what they perceive to be the success of the surge, who are willing to keep troops in place, at 47 percent, up 6 percent since this poll was done three months ago.

Now, it's not to say that, you know, there's still about people -- about 53 percent say now is the time for the U.S. to say we succeeded and get out of Iraq. 54 percent say they still -- it was the wrong choice to get into Iraq.

What you see is the numbers are bumping up because of the surge. And the talk around the surge and makes it harder for Obama or Hillary. But harder for Obama. You make the right point. Harder for Obama than Hillary, because Hillary, as you know, voted for authorization and said she did so hoping to give the president some leverage and she is willing to talk about what is going on in Iraq. Obama to please the base of the Democratic Party, the left wing base, has gone farther.

BARNES: That can hurt him. Juan, you said something that reminded me of when McCain jumped on -- about the surge, jumped on Mitt Romney in one of those debates. And said -- because he said the Romney referred to the apparent success of the surge. You said the perceived success of the surge. There is success. It's not apparent. It's not perceived. It's real.

WILLIAMS: You know what? You know there are arguments whether it's perceived. The argument would be where is -- in terms of benchmarks, where is the progress in terms of the political progress of the United States, our men and women provided stability. Let's see the political process.

BARNES: Elections are scheduled. Sharing the oil revenues. Amnesty.

WILLIAMS: Scheduled. Scheduled. They haven't done it.

BARNES: These are the benchmarks though. They have done it. They passed the laws. That's what the benchmark calls for.

WILLIAMS: Coming up, we tell you about the latest federal bungling on border security and why we could be seeing more scenes like this one. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARNES: Welcome back to "The Beltway Boys."

Let's check out the "Ups and Downs" for the week.

Down, the economy. Skyrocketing gas prices, doom and gloom economic numbers and the continuing mortgage mess forced President Bush to bring up the dreaded "R" word -- recession. Here's the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think we're headed to a recession. No question, we're in a slowdown. That's why we acted and acted strongly with over $150 billion pro-growth economic incentives, mainly money going into the hands of our consumers, some money going to incent businesses to invest and create jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARNES: Those who claim we'll have a recession or are already in a recession should remember one thing, that's that some of the next four out of the next five predicted recessions don't happen. Chances are Bush will be right about this.

Then there are those who believe we're on the brink of the economic collapse and the economy will collapse. We had the worst recession that you and I remember, the 1981-'82 one where unemployment went from 7 percent to 11 percent. So far, in this economy, it's gone from 4.8 percent unemployment to 5 percent. That does not suggest an economic apocalypse.

WILLIAMS: I hope not. You've got to say this, a couple things happened. One in the press conference we saw, where someone said, Mr. President, analysts suggest we'll son have $4 a gallon prices for gasoline. He said, "Huh? I hadn't heard that." It seemed like he was out of touch on that issue.

BARNES: I heard it.

WILLIAMS: Not good. But the second thing to say is that Ben Bernanke was on the Hill, the Federal Reserve chairman, and others, talking about taking steps -- and it's very important, the economic, the Wall Street money charts are psychological. The idea that the president is taking action is appropriate and it's saying, you know, what, we understand what is going on here. We want to make sure it doesn't happen.

The problem may be that a lot of times when you put in place economy stimuli and put in place something like a rate cut, it doesn't have impact for months to come. It may have an impact only once. You've been through a recession, if a recession occurred at all, as you just said.

The other part of this is I think that there are a lot of fear, fear mongering that goes on, because it could have tremendous impact if we have a down economy this year on the chance of any Republican to possibly defeat a Democrat.

BARNES: Indeed.

WILLIAMS: Up, illegal immigrants. Sneaking in to the U.S. from Mexico got easier after the feds announced a delay in the so-called virtual fence along the border due to technical problems.

Here is Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, saying I told you so.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Because of the precipitous way in which the administration went forward with it. We really do have a number of tactics that we have to use to secure our border and to go down the path that they did without more consideration yields the result that they have received.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARNES: That's not a great result. Did you have great faith in a virtual fence?

WILLIAMS: No. I thought your guys were for a virtual fence.

BARNES: No, they're for a real fence.

Ten-feet high. Maybe that would work.

WILLIAMS: Even the people who own property along the border are saying this is ridiculous. It's violating property rights. They don't believe it's effective. It doesn't have the support of the men and women guarding the border.

BARNES: I know. A big problem.

Down, public financing. It was intended to limit the playing field and limit special interest cash in the presidential campaigns. I have to laugh at that. But the candidates are trying to avoid it like the plague, fearing it will put them at a competitive disadvantage for the fall.

WILLIAMS: Here's a carrot. It's a ripe case of hypocrisy about to blossom like a spring flower in Washington. You know, John McCain, he of McCain-Feingold, and Obama pledged long ago they would take public financing for a presidential campaign if their day in the sun arrived. It's here, Fred. We have two yellow-bellied hypocrites crawling along trying to squirm their way out of public financing. Can you imagine that? I think, it's unbelievable.

BARNES: I will pass on Obama and McCain that you referred to them as yellow-bellied hypocrites. It's worse for McCain because he made a career out efforts to reduce money in politics and political campaigns. When you say -- I'm not for public financing, but when you say you're going to spend more money and not accept public financing, that's not holding down the amount of money.

WILLIAMS: No. They promised this is the way to get the corruption and the big money out. It contributed to their reputation as reformers. You can tell them what I said. It's horrible. Both candidates are exposed on this.

BARNES: I have this right, don't I? Yellow-bellied hypocrites.

WILLIAMS: You got it, babe.

When we come back, our salute to the late William F. Buckley.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARNES: Here is the buzz, Juan. William F. Buckley Jr, the great conservative intellectual and the founder of "National Review" magazine sadly died this week. He was a great man, but I want to show you something he said. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR, CONSERVATIVE & "NATIONAL REVIEW" FOUNDER: There's no sense of where I was the incarnation of conservative thought. There were -- sure, "National Review" influenced tons of people. I done deny that and was formative. If I had never existed, who knows the amalgamation might have taken place in different forms. Someone else would have founded a magazine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARNES: I don't think so. He's being modest. I love how David Brooks the columnist for the "New York Times" said William F. Buckley changed the personality of conservatism. He was smart, intellectual, witty and mischievous. I think that...

WILLIAMS: He did a good job. You know what...

BARNES: I think he brought more people to embrace conservatives than anyone, anyone else in America.

WILLIAMS: He was the spark for Goldwater and Reagan. Reagan famously said when he first reviewed "National Review" in a brown paper wrapper, he was a Democrat. And he drove out the anti-Semites and the Birchers.

BARNES: He really did.

That's all for the "The Beltway Boys" this week. Join us next week when with the boys will be back in town.

That's all for "The Beltway Boys" this week. Join us next week when the boys are back in town.

Watch "The Beltway Boys" Saturday at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday at 1 and 6 a.m. ET

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