This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from May 3, 2007.
BRIT HUME, HOST: Next on SPECIAL REPORT, the Republican presidential candidates gather for their first debate on a day when polls indicate there has been some movement in the race. Th e Florida legislature defies the Democratic Party and votes to move its primary date to late January. We'll tell you what that could mean. And the queen of England comes to Virginia. Wait until you see the hat. The Israeli government teeters on the brink with thousands of people in the street protes ting against it. And Condoleezza Rice confronts the Syrians about Iraq. All right, here right now. Welcome to Washington, I'm Brit Hume. Republican presidential candidates are gathered tonight at the Reagan Library in California for their first debate with 10 people, so far, vying for the GOP nomina tion. Some of the candidates may feel they've done well if they can just stand out a bit from the pack. Chief political correspondent Carl Cameron sorts out the frontrunners from the others and tells us where they stand right now. Hi Carl.
CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS POLITICAL C ORRESPONDENT: Hiya, Brit. Well, over the course of the last several months of campaigning, all of these candidates, at one time or another, have kind of brushed off a question or an issue by saying: there'll be a time for that when the debates begin. Well, they've been polishing up their speeches and raising money and tonight, for the first time, they'll stand face-to-face and give voters an opportunity to size the field up as a group.
(VOICE-OVER): Former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani, leads the national polls, but he's slipped more than a dozen points in the latest Quinnipiac survey to 27 percent. John McCain remains second at 19 percent, followed by a candidate who's not even entered the race yet, Fred Thompson at 14 percent. Mitt Romney has eight percent and that's tied with Newt Gingrich who, like Thompson, is not yet running. Giuliani's goal, put substance behind the celebrity as American's post-9/11 mayor and reassure Republicans that his social liberalism is not to out of step with the GOP's officially conservative platform. John McCain, who's staked his candidacy on success in Iraq, has reorganized his campaign and hopes to persuade suspicious Republicans that after years of defying his party, he's now the man to lead it. Former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, a Mormon, who until recently was pro-choice, has raised the most money in the GOP field, but is still introducing himself to voters and laid out his debate strategy last night for Jay Leno.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, get on, get off, keep your hair from getting messed up.
CAMERON: As they gather at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, all the GOP hopefuls lay various claims to the Gipper's legacy. While in contrast, they have variously criticized the current president on spending, immigration and Iraq policy. If there are fireworks directed at the frontrunner, expect them from second tier hopefuls like, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo or California Congressman Duncan Hunter who tweaked Giuliani's social values, Romney's flip-flops and McCain's history of breaking with his party.
And on the Democratic side of the race tonight, Illinois Senator Barack Obama's campaign has confirmed that he is now officially receiving Secret Service protection. There was no specific threat that caused this. Campaign sources say there was a number of concerns including the logistical and security issues at some vary largely attended events, lately, and some hate-oriented speech on the Internet. And, it was in fact, according to separate sources, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, a member of the Democratic leadership and one of the earliest backers of Obama, who actually put the Senate leadership into the protection; it has now been approved, making Obama the earliest candidate in the history of the Secret Service protection to have it. Separately, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic senator from New York, took to the stage to the Senate today to throw her support behind a measure sponsored by West Virginia Democrat, Bob Byrd. Together the two of them are offering legislation that would de-authorize the 2002 authorization to use of force against Iraq. In October of this year, comes the five-year anniversary. Clinton today, with Bob Byrd, laying forth legislation to de-authorize the war. In Ms. Clinton's words, time to compel the president to change direction. The White House reacted, today, saying — Dana Perino saying, "Here we go again. The Senate's trying another way to put — to — excuse me — another way to put a surrender date on the calendar Welcome to politics '08 style — Brit.
HUME: Well it — that, of course, if it passed both houses would have to survive a presidential veto, which would seem, at this moment, to be doubtful. Agreed, Carl?
CAMERON: Agreed. And we have Hillary Clinton on a night where the Republicans are gathering for their debate, talking about her own initiative to try to compel the president to change course in Iraq.
HUME: All right, thanks, Carl. There are political storm clouds tonight over the Sunshine State where lawmakers have moved Florida's primary elections to one of the earliest dates in the nation. The National Democratic Party says if they don't move it back they will find themselves virtually shunned later in the election year. Correspondent Phil Keating explains.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Howard Dean.
PHIL KEATING, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean won big applause this week in Miami, despite Dean's recent threat to punish Florida Democrats and their party's presidential candidates if the state moves its 2008 primary from March to January. Dean said last week in Washington, "If they do, our rules are so strict that not only will those states not collect any delegates, but anybody that campaigns in that state will be ineligible for any delegates from that state." Dean went on to say that the DNC would reaportion a candidate's delegates to all the other candidates if they show up in a state that jumps ahead of February 5. In Tallahassee the Republican-controlled legislature today passed the January 29 primary bill, which the Republican governor says he'll sign into law.
CHARLIE CRIST (R), FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Florida's voice will be heard, and her voice will be heard early.
KEATING: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle overwhelmingly approved this bill saying it makes sense nationally.
JEREMY RING (D), FLORIDA STATE SENATOR: I believe strongly by February 6 we will know on both sides, Republican and Democrat, who the nominees are going to be, which means by February 6 we would have forgotten about the primary season.
KEATING: This is why, the 2008 primary and caucus calendar as it stands right now starts with Iowa on January 14. Then Nevada caucuses five days later, New Hampshire is tentatively holding its primary on the 22nd, and then South Carolina Democrats and both parties in Florida cast their votes January 29. And then on February 5, what will amount to be a national primary day with 25 states, including California and New York, holding or planning to hold their primaries and caucuses that day. The DNC continues to persuade Florida not to go before February 5 while saying South Carolina can go ahead with its usual early date and Nevada will not be penalized since Democrats, as a favor to Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, scheduled that state to go early and points to its diverse population. But the party penalty issue is not a Democrat only issue in Florida.
According to the Republican Party rules, every state must hold its primary between February 5 and July 28. So if Floridians end up voting January 29, it's a clear violation of party rules and the RNC tells me, it will deal with how to handle that later. But with Florida being the No. 4 state when it comes to the Electoral College votes, and No. 3 when it comes to fundraising last time around at $31 million, most would argue that the Sunshine State just can't be ignored.
PROF DARIO MORENO, FLORIDA INTL UNIVERSITY: I think Florida is presenting an open challenge to both parties. We're an important state and we expect to be treated as an important state.
KEATING (voice-over): And for now, neither the state parties or the national parties are budging. And in Miami, Dean refused to comment. In Miami, Phil Keating, FOX NEWS.
HUME: The U.S. House voted 237 had been-180 today to add gender and sexual orientation to the categories covered by federal laws against hate crimes. Similar legislation is moving through the Senate as well, but the White House today, renewed its threat of a presidential veto saying state and local laws already cover the new crimes under the bill. Supporters say making those categories federal crimes would allow federal law enforcement to help local prosecutions. There are now three investigations underway into how Los Angeles police handled an immigration rally on Tuesday, including and internal affairs probe into the behavior of the officers and commanders on the scene. The president of the Los Angeles Police Commission admits the news images that emerged were, "not a pretty picture." Police fired rubber bullets into the crowds and used batons to push people back. Authorities say the officers were responding after rocks and bottles were thrown at them. Even some members of the news media, who were covering the event, found themselves covered up in the melee. President Bush is out today pressure pressing the thorny issue of illegal immigration in this country and what to do about it. In fact, the matter is getting renewed attention at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. But are the White House and the Democratic Party-led Congress doing anything about it? Congressional correspondent, Major Garrett takes a fresh look.
MAJOR GARRETT, FOX NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stymied in Congress, President Bush pushed again for immigration reform with accent on English proficiency.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our country needs a comprehensive immigration reform and part of that is to help people learn English.
GARRETT: For weeks now, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff have negotiated with Republican and Democratic senators. These secretive talks recently moved into Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's Capitol Hill offices. A bipartisan gesture that, by no means, guarantees success.
FRANK SHARRY, NATL IMMIGRATION FORUM: The chances of them achieving a bipartisan breakthrough and producing a bill that will be brought right to the floor on May 14, I give the chances right now, about 50-50.
GARRETT: Though May 1 was May Day on the immigration rallies, May 14 is May Day in the U.S. Senate, that's Reid's deadline to produce a bill, so one can pass before Congress' Memorial Day recess.
SHARRY: They say that senators are like elementary school kids. You promise them a recess and they'll get their job done.
GARRETT: Immigration talks are stalled on many fronts, but the biggest dispute is for visas for future temporary workers. Republicans want visas reserved for high-skilled workers, and they want to limit family members who join these temporary workers, through so-called chain migration. Immigration protesters, Democrats and big labor want just the opposite. Visas for low-skilled workers, allowances for family migration, and some path to citizenship. At a House immigration hearing, today, hard-line Republicans scoffed at these Senate negotiations.
STEVE KIND (R), Iowa REPRESENTATIVE: A comprehensive immigration reform bill, like the one being discussed by the Senate, the administration and the open borders lobby will not protect American jobs or the aspiration of so many Americans to better their lives.
GARRETT: The Democratic control of Congress hasn't sped up immigration reform or led to a less restrictive approach. In fact, it appears the pendulum has swung in the other direction. With new legislative emphasis on requiring illegal to return home before seeking legal residency, and learning English and American civics.
BUSH: One aspect of comprehensive immigration reform is to help people assimilate into America.
GARRETT: The Senate passed a comprehensive illegal immigration reform bill last year. But grassroots Republican politics and presidential politics have led many prominent Republicans to back away from that bill. Among them, John McCain of Arizona, Mel Martinez of Florida and Sam Brownback of Kansas. There's another important change. If the Senate bill emerges this year, it's clear it will be more restrictive on future flow of migration, residency and citizenship than last year's bill. Challenging, if not turning on its head, last year's post-election convictional wisdom, that hardliners on immigration had lost — Brit.
HUME: Major, thank you. Later on SPECIAL REPORT, you think American politics is rough? Wait until you hear about last night's fiery debate among the candidates for president of France. But first, tens of thousands rally in Tel Aviv to try to force out the Israeli prime minister, that story after a break.
HUME: The to and fro between World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and the bank board continue unabated, as Wolfowitz today rebutted allegations against him by two former bank officials. National correspondent Catherine Herridge brings us up to date — Catherine.
CATHERINE HERRIDGE, FOX NEWS NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brit, in a 10 page letter, the president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, pushes back hard against allegations that he misled members of the bank's ethics committee about the specific details of his girlfriend's transfer from the bank to the State Department in 2005. Earlier this week, the former head of the ethics committee, Ad Melkert claimed members were not consulted nor did they approve the terms and conditions for the deal for Shaha Riza, a long-time bank employee and girlfriend of Wolfowitz. Wolfowitz claims that Melkert, as head of the ethics committee, sent him a letter strongly suggesting that the committee was satisfied with the arrangements for Riza. "I assumed the committee had access to the details if it desired to review them in the autumn of 2005 when it informed me that the outcome was consistent with the committee's findings and advice. Anyone reading that statement would assume that the committee had reviewed the details before reaching such a conclusion." And Wolfowitz said in this letter that specific information about Riza's pay raise, about 36 percent, was shared with the ethics committee and the directors in January, 2005, after she was transferred. "The emails stated that 'Shaha Riza received a promotion and a permanent salary increase of around $50,000, with a commensurate increase in pension entitlements. Her salary went from around $130,000 to $180,000.'...Accordingly, Mr. Melkert was informed of the details of her salary increase at least as of that date." This strong statement from Wolfowitz comes as a special panel of the bank is putting together a final report and it could come as early as Friday — Brit.
HUME: Thank you, Catherine. In Tel Aviv tonight, as many as 100,000 demonstrators streamed into a central square to demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. It is the biggest showing, yet, of disappointment with Olmert's performance and it comes on the heels of a report criticizing his conduct for the war against Hezbollah and Lebanon, last summer. Correspondent Reena Ninan reports.
REENA NINAN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As musicians played on, this was the message from the crowd: Olmert, go home. Olmert, go home, they said. Organizers called this the losers go home campaign. They want to see the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his defense minister, Amir Peretz, resign. A report released Monday examined the Israeli's government's action against last summer's war against Hezbollah. Olmert was branded as a failure by the committee and his defense minister was labeled as inexperienced. MOSHE MUSKAL, SON KILLED IN LEBANON WAR (through translator): There are moments in the life of a nation when you say, enough is enough.
NINAN: And it appears the Israeli public agrees. Multiple polls show two-thirds of Israelis want the prime minister to step down. Today in a special session of parliament, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for Olmer's resignation.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, LIKUD PARTY LEADER (through translator): In a democracy, the people are their suffering. We need to go to the people and allow them to speak for their minds. What do the people want? What do they ask for today? They want a leadership.
NINAN: Yesterday, Olmert's foreign minister, Tzipi Livni said it was time for him to go. But the prime minister says he will remain. Organizers of today's demonstrations say this isn't about electing a new Israeli prime minister. They say they want justice, but that hasn't prevented groups circulating these bumper stickers calling for early elections. In Tel Aviv, Reena Ninan, FOX NEWS.
HUME: And later on SPECIAL REPORT, Queen Elizabeth arrives in Virginia for the royal treatment, U.S. style, but first, Secretary of Rice (sic) lays it on the line with Syria about its leaky border with Iraq. We'll tell you what happened when we come back.
HUME: It's probably never right to call it showdown time when diplomats meet, but in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt tonight, the pressure is definitely on. Iraq is feeling the heat from its neighbors to start a real process of reconciliation between Sunnis and Shia. And the top diplomatic leader delivered a very direct message to her Syrian counterpart concerning Syria's role of the violence in Iraq. Correspondent James Rosen is traveling with Secretary of State Rice.
JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Secretary Rice described her meeting with her Syrian counterpart, her first ever, and the highest level contact between the two countries in more than two years, as professional and business-like. In an interview with FOX NEWS, Rice said she urged Syria to staunch the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq.
(ON CAMERA): Did you come away convinced they will act toward that?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We will wait and see.
ROSEN: So, that's a no, you were not convinced?
RICE: OK, I'm not convinced by words. I'm convinced by action.
ROSEN (voice-over): Aides to Rice say the Syrians expressed the desire to see the U.S. return its ambassador, who was withdrawn from Damascus in 2005 following the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister. Rice's response: let's focus on the issue at hand.
RICE: We may have seen a reduction. We haven't seen an end to the foreign fighters coming across.
ROSEN (on camera): Have you seen them do anything?
RICE: I hope that they will do those things. There are things that they can do to control visas at the Damascus airport.
ROSEN (voice-over): Rice's session with the Syrians and her brief exchange of pleasantries with Iranian diplomats came on the sidelines on an international conference to aid Iraq. Where, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, a Shiite, sought both to reassure Sunni Arab states of his commitment to protecting Sunnis from Shiite death squads and to urge his neighbors to take action themselves.
NOURI AL MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER: Your support will help us deal with the threat of terrorism. It will also allow us to rebuild our armed forces so they can take over responsibility for the country's security from the coalition forces.
ROSEN: But in an interview with FOX NEWS, one influential Sunni diplomat, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, took issues with claims by American officials that the Saudis don't have an accurate view of all that Maliki is doing and question whether, as the Americans claim, there have been decreases in sectarian violence in Iraq over the last four months.
PRINCE SAUD AL FAISAL, SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER: I wish you could show me some. We have an increase in violence.
ROSEN (on camera): A senior U.S. official stationed in Iraq said the Maliki government must show meaningful progress toward reconciliation between Sunnis and Shia in Iraq, "within the next few months down the line" or else the U.S. will not be able to "sustain its support for his government." That's not a moral judgment, the official said, it's a simple fact. In Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, James Rosen, FOX NEWS.
HUME: The U.S. Military confirmed today that it has killed a top al Qaeda operative in Iraq, though not the man that Iraqi officials claimed was dead earlier this week. Military spokesman, General William Caldwell, says the slain man was Muharib Abdul Latif al Juburi, the senior minister for information for al Qaeda in Iraq. Earlier there had been claims that the dead operative was Ayyub al-Masri, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, but the confusion is not entirely over yet. Iraqi officials say Juburi is also the shadowy figure known as Olmar al Baghdadi, the leader of the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq, which has claimed responsibility for many major attacks. The Iraqi parliament's plan to knock off work for two months this summer drew more criticism today, this time from a U.S. military leader there. In the meantime, the top man at the Pentagon says he understands Americans are worried about the war, but he says that is not an excuse for giving up. National security correspondent, Jennifer Griffin reports.
JENNIFER GRIFFIN, FOX NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, after meeting troops returning home on leave at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, warned the nation about the danger of pulling out of Iraq too quickly. ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Most know or at least sense that leaving chaos behind us in Iraq will bring dramatically more suffering from Iraq — for Iraqis and also disaster for the Middle East and ultimately for us.
GRIFFIN: Elsewhere in his speech to the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, he dropped a reference from his prepared remarks to their being "no end in sight to the war in Iraq." He also dropped a reference of Iraq being part of "a long war." USCENTCOM Commander William Fallon recently recommended the phrase "long war" not be used to describe the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for fear of sending the wrong message to U.S. allies in the Middle East. Gates acknowledged how hard the war is right now on Americans.
GATES: Our country is troubled and divided by a long and difficult war in Iraq. We want our troops to come home.
GRIFFIN: Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, continue to express dismay that the Iraqi parliament is planning to take a two-month recess this summer. The USCENTCOM chief, who was testifying, agreed.
ADM WILLIAM FALLON, CENTCOM COMMANDER: How can we have our people out there fighting and dying if they're off on vacation?
GRIFFIN: Admiral Fallon then went further than any previous military commander in expressing his frustration with the Iraqi government saying they are not doing enough to meet their commitments to progress on legislation crucial to reconciliation between Sunnis and Shias.
FALLON: I think that they are not making every decision that we would like them to make as quickly as we'd like them to make it. They are not moving, in my opinion, fast enough to support what we're trying to do in that country.
GRIFFIN: Today the largest Sunni Arab block threatened to pull out of Nouri al Maliki's Shiit-led government as the prime minister met the secretary of state and Iraq's neighbors at a conference in Egypt. And the hotly debated oil law that administration officials and others point to as one of four benchmarks that the Maliki government must pass is now bogged down in parliament with the Kurds threatening to leave the government, angry that the country's most important resource could be centralized and put essentially under Shiite control.
GRIFFIN: If such political progress is not made, U.S. commanders, such as General David Petraeus, acknowledged that it will be very difficult for the surge to stabilize Baghdad to work — Brit.
HUME: Jennifer, thank you. We got to take a break to do some business, now. And update the other headlines. When you come back, wait until you hear where the Time magazine ranks the president of the United States in a list of influential people. And wait until you hear some of the — some of the influential people supposedly are. That's next on the "Grapevine."
HUME: There was a time in this country when the cry "the British are coming" meant something bad was about to happen, but not today and especially not today in Richmond, Virginia, where Queen Elizabeth was welcomed warmly and the red carpet was rolled out, literally. She arrived to helped America celebrate a major anniversary. Correspondent Molly Henneberg reports.
MOLLY HENNEBERG, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A very proper welcome for a very proper queen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is my distinct honor and privilege to present to you Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
HENNEBERG: The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, are visiting the former colonies for the first time in 16 years. In her remarks before the Virginia general assembly, she said her heart goes out to those killed and wounded in the Virginia Tech shootings.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II: On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom, I extend my deepest sympathies at this time of such grief and sorrow.
HENNEBERG: The Queen, greeted with flowers from Virginians on the capitol grounds, is here in part to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the new world.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II: I visit the United States this week to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the landing of a small group of British citizens on a tiny island in what is now called the James River, here in Virginia.
HENNEBERG: It's a repeat performance for the Queen. Fifty years ago, in her first trip to America as the British monarch, she celebrated the 350th anniversary of Jamestown founding. At that time, because of segregation laws, it was an all-white event. This time it will be much more multicultural, something that the Queen touched on ever so slightly in her remarks today.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II: Over the course of my reign, and certainly since I first visited Jamestown in 1957, my country has become a much more diverse society, just as the commonwealth of Virginia and the whole United States of America have also undergone major social change. It is right that we continue to reassess the meaning of historical events in the changing context of the present, not least in this the 200th anniversary in the United Kingdom of the act of parliament to abolish the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
HENNEBERG: Today, many line the streets trying to get a glimpse of an 81-year-old monarch.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our forbearers came from England and Scotland and we just wanted to see the Queen. It's just an exciting moment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think it's significant of her connection — England's connection with Virginia, our common shared history and culture.
HENNEBERG: Today, the Queen did more than just acknowledge the Virginia Tech shootings in her remarks; she also met privately with some of the survivors of the shooting and some of the family members of those who died. She did that here in Richmond before she went on to Williamsburg where she'll spend the night — Brit.
HUME: Molly, thank you. Following last night's French presidential debate, a new poll finds conservative Nicolas Sarkozy with a commanding lead, 54 percent of voters against 46 percent for liberal Segolene Royal. Sarkozy had already been favored before the debate and analysts said neither candidate really scored enough points or committed enough errors to tip the balance. But the debate grew heated after Royal accused Sarkozy of political immorality during a discussion of services for disabled school children. As Royal grew angrier, Sarkozy told her she needed to keep her cool.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEGOLENE ROYAL, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: "No Mr., Sarkozy, not everything is possible in political (INAUDIBLE). Not everything, is possible. This discourse, this gap between the discourse and the acts, especially when it's about handicapped children, is not acceptable, and I'm very angry, and the parents and families who are hearing you."
NICOLAS SARKOZY, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: "Calm down, don't point at me with your finger like that."
ROYAL: "No, I won't calm down. I won't calm down."
SARKOZY: "To be president you have to be calm."
ROYAL: "Not, when there is injustice. There is anger that is perfectly healthy because it relates to the suffering of people."
SARKOZY: "Will you let me speak?"
ROYAL: "Even when I'm president of the Republic"
SARKOZY: "That will be great."
ROYAL: "Because I know the effort that families and schools go through in order to welcome these children who no longer are welcomed. On this point I won't let the immorality of politics take over."
SARKOZY: "I don't know why Madame Royal, who is usually calm, has lost her cool."
ROYAL: "I have not lost my cool. I'm angry. It's not the same, don't be contemptuous. Mr. Sarkozy, don't be contemptuous. I have not lost my cool, I'm angry."
SARKOZY: "Will you let me respond?"
ROYAL: "There is anger that is perfectly healthy and very useful."
SARKOZY: "I don't know why Madame Royal, who is usually calm, has lost her cool." ROYAL: "I have not lost my cool. I'm angry."
SARKOZY: "I wonder what it's like when you do lose your cool."
ROYAL: "I never lose my cool. I have a lot of cool."
SARKOZY: "Well, if you say so, but you just lost it."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: Next on SPECIAL REPORT, Republican presidential candidates get ready for their first debate of the season. The FOX all-stars will look at the field and who might yet join it. Stay tuned.
HUME: Some analytical observations now from Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio; and the syndicated columnist, Charles Krauthammer — FOX NEWS contributors, all. Let's look at some polls, fresh polls out today from Quinnipiac University, a pretty reliable poll. And look at this. In the Republican presidential field — and this covers — look at the difference between February 21, when Rudy Giuliani was leading 40-18 over McCain and Fred Thompson was not even a dream in the eyes of any Republicans. Now down 13 points in the last couple of months, McCain holding roughly steady and Fred Thompson with, 14, looking as if he were the man who inherited all the support that Giuliani appears — at least in this poll — to have lost. Let's look at the matchups of these Republican candidates against possible Democratic contenders. First against Hillary Clinton. Each of them — each of the top two, Giuliani and McCain, both beat Senator Clinton in this poll. Fred Thompson does not, of course he's not even declared a candidate yet. Against — over Barack Obama it is a somewhat similar picture, although — it's a little tighter. Giuliani narrowing over Obama, McCain tied with Obama, and Fred Thompson losing to Obama. So, what does all this tell us about — oh, and one more, just for the fun of it. Al Gore, let's assume he gets in the race, Giuliani beats him, McCain beats him. Thompson does not. Well, that's a fair fight there, between two unannounced candidates, 37-47. All right, so as they go in there — into their debate tonight, the first they have, at the Reagan Library, what do we think the state of this race actually is? Has Giuliani really taken a haircut?
MORT KONDRACKE, ROLL CALL: Well, I think there has being some diminution of the rocket ship Giuliani that was soaring. And this suggests, as we've all said any number of times that conservatives are looking for somebody else and here's this guy Thompson that comes along and gets 14 percent of the vote in this poll, while 65 percent or so, of the electorate doesn't even know who he is. Sixty-five percent of the electorate also doesn't know who Mitt Romney is, but he's still down in single digits. So, you know — now, Thompson hasn't declared. He hasn't made his case, people don't know anything about him. He's just the guy filling a hole in the wishes of the conservative base, I think.
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Look, Republicans are acting completely out of character this year, which makes this race so interesting. I mean, Bill Clinton likes to say that Democrats like to fall in live with their candidates and Republicans like to fall in line behind a frontrunner, and they can't figure out who the frontrunner — who they want to be the frontrunner, except for they know it's probably not someone in the race right now. But I think that, to me, the Fred Thompson effect comes right out of Giuliani. Giuliani was the latest thing that was going to solve conservative problems. They learned a little bit more about him, now they've latched on to someone who's not even in the race and who at least has played a president on television. I think this race is extremely unsettled.
HUME: Wide open.
LIASSON: Wide open.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Giuliani took a haircut but it was only $100 haircut. It's not a major one yet, this is pretty early. Of course Thompson represents the sort of uneasiness with the top tier candidates. But what's so interesting, is that if you look at the generic, if you ask in a poll which has been asked here, would you elect a Democrat or a Republican as president, the Democrats have a nine-point lead, which is reflecting sort of unhappiness with the Bush administration. That's clear. But then as you showed a little earlier, if you put a name and a face on this, and it's no longer a generic, Giuliani and McCain wipe out that deficit of nine points and they actually end up ahead of Clinton or an Obama, which tells you that this uneasiness that Republicans have with the top tier, I think, is fairly unwarranted. These guys at the top, Giuliani and McCain and Romney, as well — I think I could live with any of them. They're all presidential, and they're all strong and I think it shows in how they flip the generic number once you attach a poll to their name and face.
LIASSON: But Charles, Republicans aren't unsettled because they don't think these guys can beat Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. They're unsettled because they do not feel that any of them fit the kind of bill of the traditional conservative profile that they're looking for.
KRAUTHAMMER: I think they ought to have a little less angst with these candidates that they are all historically of a fairly high caliber.
HUME: Let me ask this question. Is all this excitement, or at least potential excitement, about a Thompson candidacy — on the stage in the debate is a Thompson, but it's not Fred Thompson.
LIASSON: No. It's Tommy Thompson.
HUME: Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin.
LIASSON: I wonder if people will be confused.
HUME: What affect does that have?
KRAUTHAMMER: He could rocket up in the polls.
HUME: Or he could send Thompson — or could do badly and send Fred Thompson's ratings down.
LIASSON: .I didn't know he looked like that, right.
KONDRACKE: Actually, Fred Thompson is making — is in California or he's going to California tomorrow and make a speech to the Orange County Republicans. He's not going to be on the debate stage tonight, but make his debut. (CROSSTALK) I'm the real — well, they're all going to be Ronald Reagan; they're all going to try to be Ronald Reagan.
LIASSON: It's going to be like To Tell the Truth, right. I'm Ronald Reagan, right.
HUME: Next up with the panel, we'll look at who got the upper hand heading into Sunday's French presidential elections after the wild scene last night. Stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARKOZY: "I don't know why Madame Royal, who is usually calm, has lost her cool." ROYAL: "I have not lost my cool. I'm angry. It's not the same, don't be contemptuous. Mr. Sarkozy, don't be contemptuous. I have not lost my cool, I'm angry."
SARKOZY: "Will you let me respond?"
ROYAL: "There is anger that is perfectly healthy and very useful."
SARKOZY: "I don't know why Madame Royal, who is usually calm, has lost her cool."
ROYAL: "I have not lost my cool. I'm angry."
SARKOZY: "I wonder what it's like when you do lose your cool."
ROYAL: "I never lose my cool. I have a lot of cool."
SARKOZY: "Well, if you say so, but you just lost it."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: (INAUDIBLE). The debate between the two finalists for the French presidency and fireworks. Back with our panel on this now. Now, obviously it's hard for Americans to think like the French. If we could we'd get along better, maybe. But what do you think here? The poll advantage, the morning after, continues to be with Sarkozy, who was ahead going in. But that exchange, obviously, has been heard many times more often on French television than it has here. What effect?
KONDRACKE: Well, I — you know, He was trying to say that the lady is not ready for primetime or national leadership. And, you know, I think she handled herself perfectly well. I mean, she's fought back at him and stuff like that. She didn't really lose her cool or composer. She was angry. But look, that's drama criticism. The fact is that France is really at a crossroads here. It's got the highest unemployment rate of any major country in Europe. It's this stupid 35-hour workweek. It's an unemployment rate of 8.4 percent.
HUME: I thought it was higher than that.
KONDRACKE: No, that's what it is, the latest. Fifty percent of its GDP is government. And so it really is at a crossroads and Sarkozy is saying cut taxes from 60 percent, top rate, to 50 percent, not big, but some. He's not getting rid of the 35-hour workweek, but not tax money that's earned after 35 hours workweek, thereby encouraging extra work, and so on. So, he's the conservative and she wants more government spending, more — raise the minimum wage and all that stuff, which would bog down the economy. The polls suggest that the French are now ready to take a capitalist turn.
LIASSON: Look, the exchange in the debate, which was wonderful theartre, looked like a kind of classic tactic that you use against a female candidate, especially in France where the notion of — she's an absolutely revolutionary candidate. Women are represented in the parliament there in much smaller numbers than elsewhere in Europe, but to suggest that she's somehow imbalanced or doesn't have the emotional stability to do this. Other than that, I think the big question in the French election now is, who will this third centrist candidate throw his support to? He hasn't endorsed anybody yet. He said he wouldn't vote for Sarkozy.
HUME: Polls say — if the poll numbers are right 54-46, ain't a big undecided factor left.
LIASSON: No, no, no, but he does have a certain number of supporters. KRAUTHAMMER: Eighty-eight percent have said that their vote is already decided. And he's pretty much ahead and we wouldn't only have affect on domestic issues, he would have a huge affect on us. Because he is as pro-American as you will ever find, not only in France, but in any of old Europe. And that would be a huge shift in the center of gravity of Europe. After all, Eastern Europe is fairly pro-American. The polls, for instance, are taking our missiles, have helped us in Iraq. Remember who liberated (INAUDIBLE), the French have forgotten. He remembers, he's the son of Hungarian refugees. He's quite pro-American. And if you have him and the shift that you had in Germany where the Merkel is pro-American then the previous successor, Schroeder. You have Brown who will succeed Blair in London, who's reasonably pro-American. That would help us a lot in negotiations with Iran, with the Palestinians on Lebanon, and especially on Iraq. I think it would have a huge affect on us if the impediment that the French had been under, Chirac, he saw his role as the goalist, of stopping us, checking us, in fact, humiliating us, if possibly, in all parts of the world. You take that away and you substitute a Sarkozy, I think it will have a huge affect on us. So, it's an important election from the American perspective. KONDRACKE: I'm really surprised that that didn't come up. I read a full summary of the debate today and the America issue never even come up, which suggested it's not an impediment to Sarkozy and if it were she'd a brought it up.
HUME: So, what about this? If you say she's classic — I mean, a real change, revolutionary. Not because her politics are revolutionary, but because it is a bigger breakthrough for a woman than it would be here, for example?
LIASSON: Yeah, sure, or in elsewhere in Europe. I mean, you know, Great Britain and Germany, (INAUDIBLE)
HUME: Mort was saying that their performance where she gets angry and she says: I'm I'm angry. I haven't lost my cool. And (INAUDIBLE) How does that play out in your head? LIASSON: You know, I don't know how it plays in France. To me she looked like she handled it fine. Now maybe in France when there's a much higher threshold for a woman, you know, people might have reacted badly against it. I have no idea.
KRAUTHAMMER: The polls after this debate had him deemed to have succeeded about 52 percent and her about 36 percent. So, look .
HUME: That's roughly — that's less than she gets in the overall support.
KRAUTHAMMER: So it implies that looks — we only saw a sound bite on the totality he apparently won.
HUME: But you got to figure, that's the same sound bite they're playing on French television, unless they're even more boring over there than they are over here. That's it for the panel, but stay tuned to see someone we think might liven up this panel. That's next.
HUME: Finally tonight we're always trying to find new people to find down and interesting vice to enliven and reflect — refresh our observations. Here's someone who's political observations could make him a real contender.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D.L. HUGHLEY, COMEDIAN: (INAUDIBLE) is not his color, it is his name. Because we used names, like you know, American names have: John, and Bill, George. Barack Obama doesn't not sound like a man for president, sound like the owner of a 7-11.
HUGHLEY: I can't even say that without wanting a Slurpee and some Nachos.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Then you have John McCain, (INAUDIBLE), 70-years-old running for president. You don't want to a 70-year-old dude having any job. You kidding me. That man should be a greeter at Wal-Wart like all the other 70-year-olds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: And that's SPECIAL REPORT for this time. Please tune us in next time and in the meantime more news is on the way, fair, balanced.
Watch "Special Report With Brit Hume" weeknights at 6 p.m. EST.
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