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Special Report

'Special Report' Panel on the Battle for Recounts in FL & MI and Escalating Tensions Between Colombia and Venezuela

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from March 6, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHARLIE CRIST, (R) FLORIDA: What Governor Granholm of Michigan and myself are calling for is for those votes to count, and so those delegates should be seated at our national conventions.

As you know, on the Democratic side currently, their plan is to seat none of them; on the Republican side, to seat only half of them. So the idea is that this is a bipartisan issue. Governor Granholm happens to be a Democrat. I happen to be a Republican.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIT HUME, HOST: Well, interesting. What he is talking about, of course, is this tremendous controversy that has now erupted about what to do about the results of the Florida and Michigan primaries.

In the Democratic Party, which is the only place where it matters at this point, the Party rules forbade the primaries to be held on the early date on which they were both, in fact, held in defiance of those rules.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton didn't campaign in either place. Barack Obama wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan. Hillary Clinton won the voting there.

Under the Party rules, those delegates are not supposed to be seated. She is now saying we ought to be seated. The governors of the state, both of them, are now saying the delegates ought to be seated from both states.

What to do? Some thoughts on this 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.

Well, can you see a way out of this, Fred?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": You know that old clich,: "no easy answers"? There is certainly no easy answer here.

I mean, Hillary Clinton wants the delegates to count. That may not happen, but that's what she's for. And Obama said, look, I abided by the rules. I didn't campaign in these states. The rules say these states had their primaries out of order, before February 5, so they get to send no delegates.

Why should he change from that position because, one, if the delegates elected count, then Hillary Clinton probably wins the Democratic nomination.

So the seeming solution is a do-over where you have a Florida and Michigan primary.

HUME: But there's a problem with a do-over.

BARNES: Why would Obama agree to that? He's ahead now. He followed the rules. Why would he agree to a do-over in states, like Florida, with a lot of old people --

HUME: I know that, but doesn't refusal to even go along with a do- over risk the possibility that the voters of those two states if he becomes the nominee and has shut them out and wouldn't even go along with the do- over would look unfavorably upon him in the fall?

MORT KONDRAKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "ROLL CALL": I would think so.

The best idea I've heard comes from Mark Siegel, who used to be the executive director of the Democratic National Committee and is a delegate selection expert, and he says that there is a concept called "the firehouse primary," which is not run by the state, it's run by the Party, the DNC, and maybe the state party could hold fundraisers to pay for it.

HUME: Michigan used to have a firehouse primary.

BARNES: And nobody showed up.

KONDRACKE: But they would in this case. It is paper ballots. It is not as expensive as it would be otherwise.

And this would be like the playoffs. It would be, you know, the runoff, in maybe June, where both of the candidates are very well-known as they weren't when Michigan and Florida started the thing.

Presumably, Hillary Clinton would have an advantage if there were a do-over. But why should these big states not count? I mean, it seems to me that they should count. And so a do-over seems the most fair thing to do.

HUME: But the governors of both states, including Democrat Granholm of Michigan, say there shouldn't be and, moreover, we don't want to pay for it.

KONDRACKE: Somebody is going to have to pay for it if they're going to do it. And so the Democratic Party, whose rules these were and has imposed this, and maybe the state parties who were complicit, ought to pay for it.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, there is no way in which the existing selection is going to stand. You cannot have Clinton getting the delegates from Florida and Michigan, and, clearly, in contests where Obama wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan. If that happened, there would be a riot at the convention, and it will be looked at as a stolen election worse than what the Republicans had done in 2000.

HUME: What about the argument that is made that it was kind of a fair fight in Florida -- both were on the ballot and neither campaigned there. Is that reasonable?

KRAUTHAMMER: It is not, because Hillary was a known quantity. She had name recognition. Obama -- this was early in the process, where he was unknown. He would go into states where he was 20 points behind; people would see him, hear him, know him, swoon, and faint, and he'd end up winning.

So he's the guy who was unknown, had to be out there, had to be campaigning. So he was, of course, handicapped in not having a campaign. So it's entirely unfair.

HUME: So if somebody comes up with the money, Fred --

KRAUTHAMMER: You are going to have to have a do-over. It's going to have to happen.

HUME: If somebody comes up with the money and a do-over is proposed, can Obama really resist that?

BARNES: Of course he can resist it. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Obama go into federal court and say "I honored these rules that the Party set, and I want those rules to be upheld."

I'm not saying he would win. Federal courts, or local courts, for that matter, usually don't like to get mixed up in these things. But why should he agree? I don't think a firehouse primary helps at all. It is still a primary. It can only hurt him.

HUME: Wouldn't he get some strength, perhaps, by the finding by the Supreme Court in Bush versus Gore, in which the idea was that they kept counting and recounting, and then it got to the point where there was a different standard being applied, different rules being applied?

BARNES: I hadn't thought of that, but you're right.

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, Democrats, citing that --

HUME: Resisting a do-over might not help him, either.

KONDRACKE: If you want to be the choice of the majority of Party voters, then there ought to be a do-over and you ought to win the popular vote and win it fair and square.

HUME: We get that, Mort, but here's the thing --

BARNES: Here's the problem: if there is a do-over and Hillary wins, and then wins the nomination, the Democratic Party will be deeply divided, even if Obama picked as her running mate.

HUME: You think? But doesn't Obama run the terrible risk of resisting a do-over, and if they ultimately hold it, then the voters in that state look like he didn't even want their votes to count? He probably can't resist it.

BARNES: He doesn't want their votes to count. They already know that.

KRAUTHAMMER: Super delegates will decide who gets this nomination. If he resists, if he ends up in court, if he cites the Bush precedent, he will lose those super delegates, he will lose the nomination.

He has no way out. If there is a do-over, he will have to do it over.

HUME: And he'll have run and act like he likes it, right?

KONDRACKE: He might even win.

HUME: I know. That's what I think.

KRAUTHAMMER: Even if he doesn't, it's proportional. The margin of delegates he'll lose will be negligible, and he stays ahead in delegates anyway.

BARNES: He might not, Charles. That's easy for you to say. Florida has a lot of senior citizens and not a lot of young people.

KRAUTHAMMER: It's still proportional.

HUME: That's enough. You get it, folks: it's a mess.

After a break, the tensions between Columbia and its neighbors Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Venezuela -- who did what to whom, and what now?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT: A war crime took place in the Secondio(ph) province -- a war crime! That is why the one who will be convicted here is not Hugo Chavez. It is Alvaro Uribe, as a war criminal -- a war criminal!

RICE: Colombia is a good friend. I do hope that there will be a diplomatic outcome to this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: Alvaro Uribe, of course, is the head man in Colombia and a very strong ally to the United States in the war on terror and the war on drugs and in other things, and he has now got troops on his border from several different directions after a raid on what is considered to be a terrorist camp across the Ecuadorian border last week.

We could be headed for war, possible, in Central America, down there in South America. You can see how surround he is -- Ecuador, Bogota; and then you Venezuela on the other side. And, of course, now Nicaragua, unsurprisingly, has gotten into this.

So what are the equities here, Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, it's all about Hugo Chavez. The Colombians did what any country would do -- attack a terrorist who was being harbored in another country.

Chavez knows oil is at $100 a barrel, and there are shortages of milk and chicken and other staples in his country. He lost a referendum. His own constituency, the poor, are angry at him. His hold on power is becoming shaky because he has run the economy to the ground.

So what does he do? What all dictators do -- he is trying to start trouble on the border. There will not be a war because he will lose against Colombia.

And what Colombia needs is not American support militarily. This is a time in which congressional liberals an Harvard professors who believe that the Bush administration has been exercising the military, resorting to war, and not using soft American power.

Here's where you ought to have Pelosi and Reid stand up and say "We've had the treaty with Columbia, a free trade agreement, hanging for a year- and-a-half, now hearings, no action, nothing on it."

It needs a statement by the United States of support for Colombia by agreeing to have this treaty -- by having a vote in the Congress is exactly what Colombia needs, not military support. It has a strong army, it can defend itself.

But Democrats are leaving it languishing, and that, I think, is hurting Colombia at a time where it needs us.

KONDRACKE: That is exactly right. This is a trade agreement, by the way, which contains the labor and environmental standards that the Democrats say that they have been --

HUME: So what's their problem with it?

KONDRACKE: They say the human rights situation -- there have been paramilitaries operating, and the Colombian army has a history of rough stuff. And everybody who is independent has looked at this says that the situation is much better than it ever was before, but it's not good enough for the AFL-CIO, which is against virtually all trade agreements.

But the important thing is to remember what FARC is, this terrorist group. It's a Marxist-Leninist organization which has killed thousands of people. It is a narcotics trafficking organization. It employs child soldiers. It kidnaps people for ransom.

And here is Hugo Chavez and the others lefties in the region -- Ecuador and Nicaragua and Cuba -- are defending it as though it is a liberation organization. It is a flat, no questions asked, terrorist organization.

BARNES: Chavez has been embarrassed by this.

First off, the incursion, when the Colombian army went and had followed these terrorists for a mile-and-a-half into Ecuador, not into Venezuela, but into Ecuador -- so Chavez doesn't have any real gripe there, except for this: he is a leftist thug, and Ecuador, the president of Ecuador, and then Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, who's election was financed almost entirely by Ortega(sic), they're his puppets. So naturally they jump in when he sounds off.

Uribe is, by South American standards, is a standout, small "d," democrat. He is America's best friend down there.

This free trade agreement, of course, has no economic hazards for the United States. And Charles and Mort are right -- that would be the smartest thing to do, because, obviously, Colombia has a strong army, and the others won't invade.

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