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Special Report

'Special Report' Panel on Campaigns and Elections, Giuliani, Huckabee, and Former President Clinton

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from November 28, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Even thoug h I approved of Afghanistan an opposed Iraq from the beginning, I still resent that I was not asked or given the opportunity to support those soldiers.

SEN HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: This is a very difficult vote. This is probably the hardest decision I've ever had to make. Any vote that might lead to war should be hard, but I cast it with conviction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, GUEST HOST: Well there you see Senator Hillary Clinton back from when she voted to authorize President Bush to use force in Iraq. Before that, her husband, former president Clinton, on the stump in Iowa, saying he never supported the Iraq war. The problem is, he had statements that said he did.

Now some analytical observations about all of this — Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, Jeff Birnbaum, columnist of the Washington Post, and Michael Barone, Senior Writer of U.S. News and World Report, FOX News contributors all.

Fred, he comes out to this Iowa gathering and says he didn't support the war from the beginning. How about this?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, WEEKLY STANDARD: I never knew where he stood on the 1991 Iraq war. Remember the first Iraq war he said he would have voted for it, but he agreed with those who were against it. So figure that one out.

And on this, as you said, he said any number of times I support the Iraq thing. The only criticism of President Bush was the timing, that he hadn't let the inspections go far enough. But then he supported him over and over again. You have seen all the quotes. I can cite many of them.

He is obviously trying to help his wife in her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. He's not succeeding. This makes him the issue, and everybody is talking about him. He's completely overshadowed her. And, once again, there is a question of his credibility. And nobody is talking about her.

BAIER: It's interesting you point that out, because Associated Press reporter Ron Fournier, who is a great reporter, had a sum-up of that address in Iowa, and this is what wrote about Clinton's talk.

"In the next ten minutes he used the word 'I' a total of 94 times, and mentioned Hillary just seven times in an address that was as much about his legacy as it was about his wife's candidacy."

So, Jeff, does Bill Clinton potentially cause a problem for Hillary Clinton in some ways on the campaign trail?

BIRNBAUM: I don't think there is any question that he has caused her a problem this time. He also raises her a tremendous amount of money, gets her gigantic audiences, especially in places like Iowa where she needs those audiences.

But in this case what he did was remind everybody about his wife's number one weakness, which was her vote to authorize the war in Iraq. That's what this statement, I think, did mostly.

And it was, in other words, Clinton's Kerry moment—he was for it before he was against it. That's what this was all about. And it also reminds everybody that the Clintons have that kind of problem, that slipperiness problem. And in this case, even though it's his mistake, it becomes her—it's her big problem, because people will equate Clintonism with her as well.

And Clintonesque is not something she wants to be, especially in a place as intimate in its politics as Iowa.

BAIER: We should point out that at that event he said he opposed Iraq from the beginning. The next event he went to, the script changed, and he says he opposes Iraq — currently, present tense, drop the "d"—and from the beginning.

Michael?

MICHAEL BARONE, SENIOR WRITER OF U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: Fred mentioned the comment Bill Clinton made in 1991. That wasn't just an off the cuff thing. I called Bill Clinton's governor's office in Little Rock at the time that the vote was going on and the Gulf War resolution, and that was the prepared statement that his press secretary read for me — I would have voted with the proponents, but I agree with the arguments of the opponents, thus putting him on both sides of the issue.

BAIER: So how does this play in Iowa, Michael?

BARONE: I think the Republican caucus electorate in Iowa, they tend to be against the Iraq war, the Democrats heavily against. It is one of the most dovish states during the nation, and was during the Vietnam War period, and so forth.

They were strong for the civil war, but in the 21st century, less so on this. And it reminds people of Bill Clinton's sort of slipperiness here, and it reminds them that Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq War Resolution, which Bill Clinton at the time seemed to favor that vote.

He disagreed, he said in '03, with the timing of the invasion. He said let Hans Blix get his job done first. I think it is something of a negative for her.

And it brings up, also, this kind of bizarre situation, unique in American history, that if Hillary Clinton is elected president, we will have a former president by her side at the White House.

That is both a plus and minus for Hillary Clinton. On the one hand, most voters think he was competent and effective president. On the other hand, they also think that he is slippery and unreliable and perhaps leads to embarrassing situations.

BAIER: And one last thing. Fred, do you think other campaigns, Democrats, are going to pick this up over the next days?

BARNES: They don't need to. What do they need to say? It's out there, and the press can handle this.

BAIER: All right.

Next up with out panel, Mike Huckabee gains even more ground in Iowa. And what about the latest Giuliani story to hit the trail? All of that, sizing up the GOP race, next with our panel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Faith doesn't just influence me, it really defines me. I don't have to wake up every day wondering what do I need to believe?

When people pray, things happen. I'm not saying god wants me to be elected, because I don't know. Last time I checked he hadn't registered in any of the states to vote. If he does register, be sure and let me know, because I will ask for his vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee there talking today about what is propelling his campaign. Also, you saw his new ad there.

He is really gaining some ground in Iowa. The latest poll — Rasmussen Reports poll — you can see here, Huckabee 28 percent, Romney 25 percent. It's the first time in any poll that Huckabee has been in the lead.

We're back with our panel. Let's start here. Fred, how about this surge?

BARNES: Well, it's obviously a real one there. Rasmussen is a good pollster, polls every day on these things. And it is an example of the candidate and the message overcoming what the other candidates have, at least Romney has, and that's organization and money.

Look, I didn't think — I've been wrong about Huckabee up until now, because I didn't think he had any chance of getting this far in Iowa without a lot of money or big organization or anything, and he has.

Now, I thought that ad was interesting for this reason, in particular- -if you notice, he talks about how important his faith is, and then it comes on the screen "Christian leader." To me, that ad is designed to do one thing, and that is to get people to vote for Mike Huckabee on the basis of his Christian faith.

Even Pat Robertson — Mike, you remember 1988. Jeff you do, too. When he was running in Iowa in 1988 and he wound up coming in second, I don't think he was quite that overt in using his faith to say, look, I'm a Christian, you Christians vote for me.

BAIER: Michael, we know this translates in Iowa for Republican conservative voters, but what about outside Iowa? There is one poll where Huckabee is gaining ground in Florida. Is there a race for Huckabee outside of Iowa?

BARONE: That's one of the big questions that is raised. In the ABC / Washington Post poll, it showed Huckabee four points behind Mitt Romney in Iowa. Almost all his support came from Evangelical Christians.

It appears in the Rasmussen poll, too. He got 48 percent from Evangelical Christians. There are a lot them in the Iowa caucuses. It might be nearly half of the caucuses.

You go to New Hampshire, you are in a much more secular environment. You can find some Evangelical Christians there if you spent some time and hang out at the right church.

BAIER: They don't often wear their religion on their sleeve.

BARONE: Yes. What Huckabee has to do is go beyond this base that he is clearly assembling and appealing to in Iowa. I think he's trying to do it, in part, by the sense of humor. The ad said "Christian leader" but also, at the end, he is telling a joke.

One of the reasons he did well is the straw poll, where his speech won over support, is that he is charming and he has a sense of humor and has this self deprecating sense of humor as well.

I think that takes the hard edge, or he hopes it takes the hard edge off this thing—I'm a Christian, vote for me. And then he says, but I can fun about it. I'll ask god for his vote if he registers in some state.

BAIER: Right.

Well, let's turn the page a little bit, Jeff, and talk about this other story out there today about Rudy Giuliani. I will put up a quote from Politico — "As New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with his future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons."

It goes on to say that the agencies included regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled, and providing lawyers for indigent defendants.

The campaign says there's nothing wrong with this financing, and the security detail, but how does this play?

BIRNBAUM: We don't honestly know yet how it will play. I think Giuliani has a very strong argument to make that wherever he goes, that's where his security detail has to go with him. And that's really, I think, difficult to argue against.

If he actually did try to hide the financing for the security details during his trysts with his then girlfriend while he was married, that becomes a bigger issue. And the importance of that, it reminds people that he's on his third wife, which is a problem with many voters of all kinds, especially socially conservative voters.

Let me just say that what we're seeing, just for a moment about Huckabee and Giuliani — I think what we may be seeing is that the American voters are tired of the same old faces, and Huckabee is a new face. Maybe that's why he's doing so well.

BAIER: OK. We'll leave it there. That's the last word for the panel.

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