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Special Report

'Special Report' Panel on State of Hillary Clinton's Campaign

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from December 14, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN HILLARY CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As soon as I heard about this, that I not only disapproved it, but that it did not reflect the campaign that I'm running, and I did personally apologize. And the gentleman in question has stepped down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The negative stuff isn't going to work. It's not going to work here in Iowa. People are really sincerely interested in doing the right thing and lifting and making the right decisions. And I found other people who also have been dissatisfied.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRETT BAIER, GUEST HOST: There you see Senator Clinton talking and apologizing again for a statement made by the head of her New Hampshire campaign, Billy Shaheen, about Barack Obama's teen drug use. He has since left the campaign.

The second video there is from Obama's Web site. That lady is Susan Koppler(ph), a former Iowa Clinton precinct captain, announcing she is now going for Obama.

Let's take a quick look at some new polls out. First, the Quad City Times, they just put out a poll tonight with some new numbers. And there you see Barack Obama in Iowa at 33 percent, Hillary Clinton at 24, and John Edwards at 24 percent. That is a new poll today.

Let's also take a look at the poll in New Hampshire, the "Concord Monitor" poll, and that shows Barack Obama at 32 percent, Hillary Clinton at 31 percent.

So, obviously, we are seeing some effect on the Clinton campaign, at least in several polls. Analytical observations now about all of this from Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.

So how about all the apologies, Fred? Senator Clinton has been on the apology train, and today she had a news conference and spent a lot of time talking about that.

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes. That's not a good time for your campaign. She had to apologize not only for her aide, who was in New Hampshire, who said that about Obama's and his drug use, which he had written about in the book, for heaven's sakes.

But why did that person mention that? Because most people haven't read that book. Most people don't know about what he wrote about, that as a teenager using drugs, and he wrote very frankly about it.

This is not an innocent tactic, where you just say—I mean, this was kind of crude, saying, well, Republicans—of course we're not—but Republicans may use this issue if Obama's nominated.

And she had to apologize for the aide who sent along those Clinton emails about him being a Muslim when he was five, or something like that. It is pretty pathetic.

But, remember that column by Robert Novak a few weeks ago in which he said some Democrats were telling them they heard from the Hillary campaign this: watch out for Obama, we have some dirt on him. And, of course, the Clinton campaign denied it. Then all this stuff comes on.

She's in trouble. Obama's soaring.

BAIER: So, Mort, is there a backlash here?

MORT KONDRAKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: Yes, of course there is. And the dirt that they've got, if that's what they've got, is used-up dirt. There's nothing new in any of this kind of stuff. They're raising it, and it's plainly not working.

I've compared this campaign before to 1984 when Walter Mondale was the juggernaut, inevitable establishment candidate, former Vice President, and Gary Hart came from nowhere and didn't beat him in Iowa, finished second in Iowa, but suddenly began to run away with the campaign.

And Walter Mondale ultimately won the nomination by raising the issue, "Where's the beef?" And stopped the Gary Hart campaign cold.

Hillary needs a "Where's the beef?" moment right now, but all the moments are working for Obama, and they're all bad for Hillary. Everything from Norman Hsu—it all started back then about this fund-raiser who was bucketing money to people who were too poor all the way up to the current events.

Nothing has happened that is good for Hillary lately.

BAIER: So, Charles, can she turn it around with the time left before the caucuses in New Hampshire?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I'm not sure she can in Iowa. I think she's hurting in Iowa. And these polls, which show her dropping, do not take into account yet the full effect of the debate that Obama did well. Edwards, I think he won it hands down, and she looked weak. I suspect in the polls next week in Iowa, she will be third.

And, look, you get an idea of the disarray in her campaign when with three weeks left, she's running an ad in Iowa in which her mother endorses her. Now, when you have to have your mother on camera saying that you are a nice person, when you ought to be making a closing argument, you are reintroducing and trying to humanize a candidate, you're in trouble.

Is there a candidate who couldn't get his mother to give him a 30- second endorsement? If it were mine(ph), she would insist on a 30 minute bye.

BAIER: Fred, quickly, can Hillary Clinton survive third in Iowa?

BARNES: That will be tough. If she rebounded in New Hampshire it would be all right, but there is no reason to believe that she is go be rebound anywhere.

Right now she is in deep trouble. She has the machine, but it's not working.

BAIER: That's it for this issue. When we come back, has some of the new worn off the Mike Huckabee campaign? The candidate is taking some shots, we'll talk about that, and a new addition to the Huckabee campaign as well, next with the all stars.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a lot of people across America, and not just a handful of Evangelicals in Iowa, who apparently really like what we're bringing to the race, because all over the country, in states where there's not a heavy Evangelical vote, there's a lot of strong support for the campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was with Ronald Reagan from the day he couldn't win as governor until the day he couldn't win as president. Democrats were lined up, saying please, god, give us Ronald Reagan so that we could beat him like a drum.

And at the end of the day, he had the ability to connect with people. Mike Huckabee has that ability to connect with people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Governor Mike Huckabee today. Obviously, he's the Iowa frontrunner, also leading in a couple of other polls. And there you see veteran Republicans strategist Ed Rollins, who joined the campaign today as the new campaign chair.

I just want to show you one poll that came out today—the Rasmussen reports poll from Florida. Now, this is from Florida, folks, where Huckabee appears to have overtaken, at least in this poll, Romney and Giuliani in that Florida race.

So there are interesting numbers there. Whether it matches up with earlier states, we'll see.

Charles, what about Ed Rollins joining this campaign? He has obviously worked for Reagan and has a long history with Republicans, but what does he do for this campaign?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, he gives it stature because of his association with Reagan. He gives them a second spokesman. Huckabee is, essentially, answering all questions on his own. Now he has a seasoned veteran who will be able to answer questions on his behalf.

But Huckabee's problem is that, in the end, it's not the religion issue, it will be the foreign policy issues. He doesn't offer anything.

He actually answered a question on Christian Broadcast Network where he said that he had a unique ability to deal with Islamic terrorism because he has a degree in theology. Well, in fact, he doesn't, but it's an absurd claim. It would mean that Jesse Jackson is uniquely able to deal with the terrorist threat.

His foreign policy ideas are weak, to the left of some of the Democrats. As soon as that story is out in Florida and elsewhere, I think he will begin to—the spike will be over.

BAIER: So, Mort, has the new worn off of Mike Huckabee?

KONDRAKE: Well, it doesn't seem to have worn off quite yet, but it is beginning to catch up with him. We were talking two or three weeks ago about reports about his ethical problems in Arkansas would kill him, this foreign policy weakness, and so on.

I mean, he lost me today, actually, when I read Mike Verson's column, former White House speechwriter's, when he pointed out what it means about this endorsement of Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the minutemen.

Jim Gilchrist, at the time when Congress was considering the comprehensive immigration reform, said that it could create an insurrection in the United States, and that he would not encourage the insurrection, but he would not do anything to stop it.

That is a violent anti-government insurrection over immigration. And this is the guy whose endorsement, nice guy Mike Huckabee, just accepted.

BAIER: But, clearly he's trying to set his flank against the immigration issue.

KONDRAKE: Right. A week ago, he said he would allow illegal immigrant kids who finished high school to go to college in their state. Now he wants to kick them out all over the country within 120 days, and sic the police on them.

BARNES: Mort, I'm hurt. I told you about the endorsement by the minuteman guy, and you didn't believe me. Well, good, I'm glad you read the column.

Look the truth is, I agree with Charles, his foreign policy consists of this: we in America haven't been nice enough to these other countries and these people that are mad at us because we haven't been nice enough.

That is not what Ronald Reagan followed in his foreign policy. His was peace through strength. There is no strength in Huckabee. It is, I guess, peace through niceness. And that's not going to fly. I think he's going to be hurt.

Let me mention one thing. I need to make an apology, and that is this—I foolishly believed these early reports, which turned out to be false, of a number of people who were supposedly named for having taken steroids, named by George Mitchell.

And one I mentioned was Albert Pujols, the great first baseman for the St Louis Cardinals. It turns out he is not on that list. I questioned whether he might have trouble getting in the Hall of Fame.

He is 27-years-old. He is one of the greatest hitters in his first six years of all-time. He is not on that list. He is not a steroid taker, and he is going to wind up in the Hall of Fame. But I do apologize to him.

BAIER: OK, Fred, thanks.

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