This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from December 13, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAROLYN WASHBURN, "DES MOINES REGISTER": With relatively little foreign policy experience of your own, how will you rely on so many Clinton advisors and still deliver the break from the past that you're promising voters?
BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, I am —
SEN HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to hear that!
OBAMA: You want to hear that? Well, Hillary, I'm looking forward to you advising me as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: Well, that was the right answer, I guess, when she said she wanted to hear it, and he shot back, did Barack Obama, on a day when various indications, focus groups, and other things suggested that he did very well, and that Senator Clinton may not perhaps have had so good a day.
Some thoughts on this Democratic debate from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of "The Weekly Standard," Mort Kondracke, Executive Editor of "Roll Call," and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.
One thing that could be said is that our moderator today, the same person as yesterday, seemed more comfortable with the Democratic candidates and more at east herself than she had when she was dealing with the Republicans.
FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, WEEKLY STANDARD: That's for sure. And, you know, she laughed. She wouldn't even allow a show of hands.
HUME: She didn't even ask for one, like yesterday.
BARNES: And then that question at the end, basically, how much do you love Iowa? That's the softball of softballs. That's a go-fer ball. And they all said, surprisingly, they love Iowa, and they love Iowans, in particular, they're such wonderful people.
Anyway, this debate, which was in the afternoon, but I gather they will show it in primetime as well, and so maybe a lot of Iowans will see it — when you look at the trends in the campaign — and the trend is Obama up, Hillary down — I don't think it changed that at all.
HUME: Flat more than down, wouldn't you say?
BARNES: No, I would say down.
MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: Certainly her lead all over the place is narrowing. This was not a good day for Hillary in that debate, as evidenced by our focus group.
And, also, I think, objectively, I think she lost out on this little exchange. It was got you, and got you, and the final got you was from what you saw from Obama.
But you have this incident of Bill Shaheen, who was her National Campaign Chairman, or something like that, up in New Hampshire, husband of the former governor, who had to quit the campaign after he raised issues about Obama's drug use and whether the Republicans would —
HUME: Boyhood drug use — as a young man, youthful drug use.
KONDRACKE: Right. And the way that the allegation was framed and brought up into light was that the Republicans will surely ask about this in the general election campaign.
This is a theme that lots of the Hillary people use. Certainly the swift boaters will be after him about the fact that he might have a Muslim background, or his race, or something like this. And they elevate these issues as though it's the Republicans who are making the attack.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: This was a bad debate. The only reason it didn't reach the gold standard of cosmic dullness that was achieved yesterday was because she asked this one round of questions that were mildly critical, which elicited the one moment of spontaneity that we say with Obama and with Hillary.
But this is a moderator who didn't ask a single question about Iraq, the surge, Iran, Russia, Pakistan, interrogation. It is as if — I think Nina Easton said this in the afternoon — it's as if 9/11 never happened.
I don't know if the editor of the "Des Moines Register" speaks behalf of Iowa. I know that Iowa is not a coastal state, but this is a new definition of insularity — nothing about any of this.
And she pitched soft questions on the usual Democratic talking points — education, healthcare — which was the reason that all the answer were canned, 60-second answers out of their stump speeches.
But the winner, I thought, was John Edwards, because he stuck maniacally to his one theme, that all human ills, with the possible exception of psoriasis, are caused by big business, which is conspiring to control our democracy and oppress the middle class.
And that's Hugo Chavez's message, except he delivers it with an incredible fake authenticity that apparently won over the focus group that Frank Luntz —
HUME: Bu when, and the end of it, when they were asked who they were going to vote for, there still was a distinct majority for Obama.
KRAUTHAMMER: At least a few had had switched and said that Edwards was number one.
KONDRACKE: The one substantive thing that came up that deserves to be noticed — the Democratic Party, as evidenced by these people, has utterly turned against free trade. Who is free trade the legacy of? Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton.
And there is a new book out called by Ed Gresser called "Freedom from Want" from the Democratic Leadership Council about the prosperity and the peace that free trade has brought over time, even to America, and the Democrats are all throwing it away for the sake of the AFL-CIO.
HUME: Next with the all stars, we will go around the horn on the Mitchell report about the use of steroids in Major League Baseball. Stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE MITCHELL, FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: This has not been an isolated problem involving just a few players or a few clubs. Many players were involved. Each of the 30 clubs has had players who have been involved with such substances at some time in their careers.
DONALD FEHR, MLB PLAYERS' ASSOCIATION: Many players are named. Their reputations have been adversely affected, probably forever, even if it turns out down the road that they should not have been.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: Well, you have point-counter point from former majority leader George Mitchell, who led this inquiry that led to this long-awaited report on the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
The list of stars, which anybody who has followed this know about by now is quite long — the number of MVPs, major figures in the world of baseball.
As we noted earlier, Congressman Waxman and others are warming up in the bullpen to hold congressional hearings on this. This is an issue that has been of interest to President Bush.
What do we have here today, Fred, and where is this going?
BARNES: I tell you, this report was much, much worse than I expected. Maybe I was naive about some of these ballplayers. And this is only based on three sources that they had. And George Mitchell didn't have subpoena power, he couldn't haul people before a grand jury or anything like that, and yet it just really stunned me.
Baseball finally has a good program, which Mitchell had some recommendations, it could get better by having not just regular testing for everybody in Major League Baseball, but also have it in the off-season as well, not just random testing.
And baseball has agreed to even tougher penalties now. And Mitchell recommended having an independent agency handle the whole testing program.
And all that's good. I don't think there's any roll for the federal government. But here are the two things I wonder about — one, the Hall of Fame. In the normal course of events, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds will all get in the Hall of Fame. I'm not sure this report —
HUME: Some of these other players as well.
BARNES: Some of these other players as well, but particularly those three. They are guaranteed otherwise, absent the use of steroids.
And Clemens was singled out in the report, and had been using them, it said, since 1998. He had a great career before that, but he has done a lot since then as well.
HUME: And you have to wonder whether he could have done it.
BARNES: Yes. He obviously couldn't have done it without steroids.
And then their records — I don't think it is enough just to put an asterisk by them. I don't know how Major League Baseball is going to handle that.
KONDRACKE: The problem here is that there has not been an investigation conducted with subpoena power to be sure of what all the evidence is against every one of these players —
HUME: These will remain always necessary, unless there is an acknowledgment from on of the others, that they are allegations that remain to be proven.
KONDRACKE: Right. And Barry Bonds will probably be denied access to the Hall of Fame, because if he gets convicted, certainly of perjury, he will be kept out. This will be the juice era in baseball, and it will cloud the whole time.
And it has an effect, I think, on the country's level of confidence in all kinds of institutions. The Gallup poll did a survey on what institutions anyone has any confidence anymore, and the only institution that got high marks was the military. Congress — the respected for the institution was 14 percent. The presidency was 25 percent, as low as it has ever been, and this is just the cap stone of that.
KRAUTHAMMER: I hate to be cynical, but the message of this report is that cheating pays. This is an astonishing list in some of the most accomplished, successful, and highly, wildly remunerated players, not only in baseball, but in any sport.
In Roger Clemens, who last year for about half a year got $18 million, Andy Pettitte, who is on this list, who is already in his forties, he just signed a $16 million contract.
The message to a player today is take human growth hormone, because, as yet, there is no test. If you're a marginal player, you'll become a major leaguer. If you're a good one, you'll become a great one, and very rich.
HUME: The problem is, I guess, that the drugs are outrunning the testing. You can't accurately test for all this stuff.
KRAUTHAMMER: And there's no way to sanction the players who did all this in the '90's, except, as Fred indicated, you keep them out of the Hall of Fame. And I would have every record in this era have an asterisk, and restore the previous records in the record books.
HUME: That's it for the panel.
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