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'Special Report' Panel on Rick Warren's Faith Forum; Musharraf's Exit in Pakistan

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from August 18, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: The Obama people must feel that he didn't do quite as well as he might have wanted to in that context, because what they're putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama. He seemed so well prepared.

REV. RICK WARREN, SENIOR PASTOR, SADDLEBACK CHURCH: That's total bogus. We had him in a green room in a totally different building. The Secret service picked him up, brought him straight to that room. He was put in that building.

Somebody is systematically calling all the media and trying to he create — I guess they didn't like the format, or whatever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, GUEST HOST: There you see NBC's Andrea Mitchell talking about what the Obama people told her, that John McCain may have cheated in Saturday's forum, that he may have heard the questions first.

Then you hear Pastor Rick Warren addressing that, saying McCain was driven by the Secret Service. His campaign says he didn't listen in to the forum at that time, and then was put in a room without a broadcast feed.

Some analytical observations about the Saturday forum and looking ahead from Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, Jeff Birnbaum, columnist for The Washington Post and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer — FOX News contributors all.

Let's start with the cone of silence controversy. Bill, what about this, the charges that John McCain cheated? I mean, it was all over the blogs today.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: As Andrea Mitchell says, these charges are being made, or suggestions are being made by the Obama campaign because they know their man lost the evening.

It is striking that they can't just accept that and go on, that they have to pretend that somehow McCain must have cheated to have won, and I think that says something perhaps about the Obama campaign's excessive regard for their man and their disdain for Senator McCain. McCain won the evening.

But, look, if they want to say that this is because McCain somehow magically got access to these questions, as if that would have mattered anyway, not that he did, apparently, McCain should say tomorrow, fine, let's do it again.

I'm serious, he should say let's have another forum the next day. We can have it on the same topic, we can have it on Georgia and Russia, we can have it on Iraq. And you know what, I'll go first, and senator Obama can see the questions and the answers.

I think the Obama campaign has set itself up for looking like whiners, and I hope Senator McCain challenges Obama to have another forum tomorrow.

BAIER: Jeff, he did look relaxed, John McCain, on top of his game. Carl Cameron said it was the best he had seen him in a long time, and this is why this kind of format works for John McCain.

JEFF BIRNBAUM, COLMUNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think this explains why Obama is not eager to do town hall meetings with McCain or to take any other direct debate other than the ones that are already scheduled, the official debates.

Obama clearly does beautifully when he has a teleprompter, a forum that McCain does not do all that well. But when it comes to off the cuff debates, questions of this kind, McCain is terrific.

And just in quick defense of Andrea Mitchell for just one quick second, she didn't say — she did not report that McCain was not in the cone of silence.

BAIER: No. That is what the Obama people were talking about it.

BIRNBAUM: Right. So she — the attack by the McCain campaign on NBC, I think, had something to do with something else, maybe some problems they have been having, or an eagerness to call attention to this particular forum that McCain clearly won.

He his answers were sharp. He was playing to the audience of evangelicals. They agreed on a lot of things.

And Obama was very discursive in a way that really didn't suit this format very well.

BAIER: One of the questions that raised some eyebrows was when McCain answered was when Rick Warren asked each candidate what is rich? Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think if you're just talking about income, how about $5 million?

The point is that I'm trying to make, seriously, and I'm sure that comment will be distorted, but the point is that we want to keep people's taxes low and increase revenues.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Rick Warren asked him, "How do you define rich?" He said, and maybe he was joking, he said $5 million, which I guess, if you're making $3 million a year, you're middle class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: And there the second part is Barack Obama on the campaign trail today.

So Charles, John McCain didn't have to look into the crystal ball that long, two days, before it was hopped on as a sound byte.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: As soon as the words left his mouth and entered our ears, all of us knew it was a gaffe and it will be in a commercial. Look, it's McCain trying to be funny, and the word after his gaffe, he said "seriously," but it was too late, and Obama pounced on it.

It's a pity for McCain, because it was a great evening for him. I mean, he crushed Obama, but he made one mistake.

Let me just say as the cultural historian here that the cone of silence is a term from "Get Smart," and McCain did not have a phone in his shoe, either. It was a joking term. It meant he didn't have access, and he didn't have any access.

It is the whining of a loser. He loses a fight in the schoolyard and he said it could only have happened because the other guy was cheating.

McCain won that night because he has a depth of character that showed. This is all about spirit, history, values, and he's a man with an amazing history.

Obama has an interesting history, but it's not a heroic one. It isn't even a dramatic one. And when you match one history against another, you got a contrast which is very striking.

I mean, Obama is a man who when you watched him on that night, he was asked what was the most wrenching decision you ever had to make, and he said it was his speech opposing the war in Iraq.

But, remember, he was an unknown state senator. He is not a man who sent men into battle. It would have no effect on the war itself, but it did have an effect on his political future.

McCain's answer was his most wrenching decision was deciding to refuse early release as a prisoner of war knowing he would endure torture as a result.

And when you heard that, your heart went silent. It's a difference-it is not an attack on Obama. It's simply as a young man with less history and nothing like McCain's history. He can't match him in the area of history and values.

BAIER: Let's turn to this week about Barack Obama's choice for V.P. Our reporting is that it will happen this week. We could be days, hours, who know, away from this pick from Barack Obama.

Bill, what do you know and what do you think? Lay it out.

KRISTOL: I know nothing. No one really knows anything. I have been told, take this for what it's worth, from pretty reliable sources that have been pretty good in the past that it's down to three names — Governor Kaine of Virginia, Senator Biden of Delaware, Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas.

Obama wants Kaine. He has wanted him all along. Kaine was an early Obama supporter. It would be a pure message of change. It would run the risk of being inexperienced.

A lot of the staff want Biden, who is experienced. I am personally with Obama on this choice for Kaine.

And I think Governor Sebelius is a very attractive choice. I have never understood why — one Democrat emailed me late this afternoon: "Out of the question. You can't pick a woman whose first name isn't 'Hillary.'"

Which seems a little odd to me, just because Hillary Clinton is not an appropriate pick. Does she block any other women from being picked?

It would be exciting if he picked Kathleen Sebelius.

BAIER: Jeff, Senator Biden is just getting back from Georgia, a quick trip over to Tbilisi. If Obama picks Biden, the change mantra kind of loses something, doesn't it?

BIRNBAUM: Well, some.

But what he loses in freshness and energy and change, Obama makes up for in foreign policy experience, which the last couple of weeks proves that he really needs a contender for commander in chief.

He was weak out of the blocks in his comments about Georgia and Russia, way too evenhanded. He should have gone right after Russia the way McCain did.

Putting Biden on the ticket will shore up some of that inexperience and answers one of his top criteria for vice president, which is somebody who could step in as president if Obama is incapacitated. I'm not sure that he could make that argument with either Kaine or Sebelius.

BAIER: Quickly, Charles.

KRAUTHAMMER: I know the Obama campaign is hanging on my every word and piece of advice.

I think it should be Sam Nunn, who is a sage in the party, old and reliable. Obama is attractive because of his freshness, but there is a lightness and a thinness to him which would be — at least with a Nunn, you have a contrast, the way that Cheney lent gravitas to a Bush eight years ago.

BAIER: Interesting that Evan Bayh, the Senator from Indiana, was not in your list, Bill, but we shall see.

Next up, Pakistan is also in the market for a new president. We will discuss what Pervez Musharraf's resignation means for the U.S. after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTANI PRESIDENT: For the sake of nation and country, today I am deciding to resign from the post. My resignation will reach the speaker of the National Assembly.

I don't want anything from anybody. I leave my future in the hands of nation and the people.

BILAWAL BHUTTO ZARDARI, PAKISTANI PEOPLE'S PARTY LEADER: I see that the biggest hurdle in way of democracy has been removed, and I'm sure we can get on with solving all the issues of our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf resigning today ahead of an impending impeachment. You can hear the opposition leaders, including the son of former Benazir Bhutto — former prime minister, would really want to step in and take control of this country right away. They think this is a good thing for the country.

Now we're back with our panel about what to do with the political situation in Pakistan — Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: It is a short run it hurts us, but in the long run it was important and necessary, because only a real democracy in Pakistan will be a real and reliable ally.

In the short run it will hurt us because Musharraf was the best that we are going to get out of Pakistan. There was a lot of whining here about his inability to clamp down on Al Qaeda in the provinces in the northwest areas, the tribal areas.

Nobody has controlled the tribal areas, the Pakistanis today or the British before them, and nobody is going to. But Musharraf had helped us.

FDR once said of Trujillo, the dictator in the Dominican Republic, he's an S.O.B., but he's our S.O.B. And Musharraf is a guy who switched after 9/11 and became an enemy of the Taliban, helped us in the war in a way in Afghanistan that would have made the war impossible otherwise.

We're going to miss him in the short run. Ultimately, Pakistan will have to find its way democratically.

However, the guys who threw him out of office are loggerheads, they are opponents of each other, and a unity government looks extremely unlikely.

BAIER: Jeff, Benazir Bhutto was, obviously, assassinated, Al Qaeda is still a major threat along the northwest province of that country. Instability there could mean bad things for terrorism, the fight against it.

BIRNBAUM: That is the big danger here. It was almost a no-win situation.

I think Musharraf was not an effective leader anymore. He would have been impeached. There was going to be a vacuum. At least now that's moved up the chaos that is going to reign in the fight to take his place.

We don't know who is going to take his place, but it is likely that whoever does will be a U.S. ally in the fight against Al Qaeda. Our only hope is that the wrangling between the two leaders now in charge of the opposition party, that they can come to terms within the 30 days that they're supposed to take and that one person is selected.

That's the finest hope, but it's not clear that the political parties will be able to come up with that outcome, unfortunately.

BAIER: Bill, hovering over all of this is that this is a nuclear armed country.

KRISTOL: Right. My view is this — President Bush needs to give President Musharraf asylum, give him instant citizenship, and then Obama can put him on the ticket for vice president. He has a lot of foreign policy experience, a lot of national security experience. He knows that part of the world, which is very difficult if you haven't lived there for a long time.

You don't like that idea?

BAIER: It all comes back to politics.

KRISTOL: It is a mess over there.

Look, we shouldn't romanticize Musharraf. It was under his umbrella, his protection that Pakistan proliferated nuclear weapons and that Pakistan helped prop up the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. So I don't know that losing him is a great loss.

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