This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from June 5, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOSE SERRANO, (D) NEW YORK: In this business that we're in, you folks alway s analyze what we do ten different ways. I suspect that had she conceded that night, people would have said it was his night, why did she do that? Now they'll say it was too late.
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BRIT HUME, HOST: Actually, what most of us in the media are waiting to do is to say that happened, which it has not yet done.
Some analytical observations about all this now from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, Mara Liasson, National Political Correspondent for National Public Radio, and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.
A big event planned this weekend, no sign by Hillary Clinton, at her invitation here in Washington, no invitations as far as we know for Barack Obama to come. Mara, what is going to happen at this event?
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: So it is a unity event without the nominee. But we are told this time she really, really means it. In other words, its' been this cat and mouse game where you think she is going to concede and then she doesn't do it. But this time, supposedly, she really, really will acknowledge he is the nominee and promise to fight for him, and do it in a more, let's say, heartfelt way, and not a grudging way, as she has done in the past.
HUME: She hasn't done it at all yet!
LIASSON: She hasn't done it all. She has had 24 hours of really being chastised by her fellow Democrats, some of whom were appalled by her lack of grace in the Tuesday night performance.
Now, the other thing that was really important is that she issued a written statement and Howard Wolfson said —
HUME: No, he issued a written statement that is his own word.
LIASSON: Howard Wolfson issued a written statement that said she is not Wolfson seeking the vice-presidency, and, more importantly, the choice here is Senator Obama's and his alone. Now, I think the fact that she had to do that is extraordinary.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Because it's pretty obvious it is his choice. That's a hell of a concession.
Look, we start with the proposition that the Clintons are pathologically narcissists, that's the baseline. But they're also not stupid. She's not an ordinary loser. She is not like a John Edwards or a Richardson, who got knocked out early. She came in in almost a dead heat. She got about 50 percent minus one of the Democratic base and constituency.
And she represents, and including a feminist constituency that sees her story as the story of a woman who worked in this firm for a quarter of a century awaiting her promotion, and along comes this elegant, dashing, male interloper who takes it away, and that is a story that resonates for a lot of her constituency. And she wants respect.
She also has a bit of power, because, again, she was not knocked out early. She has an army behind her. Now, she is not going to have the nomination, but it gives her something from which to demand of him.
I think the bidding starts at the $20 million, her debt, and it includes everything except the vice-presidency — he is never going to hand it to her. But it could include, for example, an understanding about Bill getting the ambassadorship to the Court of Saint James. It gets him out of town, and he can finish his Oxford degree.
FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Not far enough out of town! Kazakhstan! Someplace where there are not direct flights back to Washington.
Look, her saying she is not seeking the vice-presidency, that doesn't mean anything. Nobody publicly seeks it and says I am seeking it.
Look, a very simple thing happened, and it speaks well for Obama, by the way — her strategy failed. Her strategy was to not endorse him, to make life miserable for him, and her pledged delegates stayed with her.
But an important group didn't, and that was all the super delegates who were with her. And you saw that Ed Rendell said you can't negotiate for this vice-presidency. Charlie Rangel was against this doing this, and a lot of her super delegates were, and that completely undermined her strategy.
The good part about Obama is that he really didn't flinch during this. He didn't do anything. He didn't try to work out a deal or negotiate. He stood firmly.
Look, this was the first test. It is not the biggest test, but it is a test, and he came through it quite well.
HUME: Now, if she had done this differently, which is to say conceded the race, and privately communicated that she wanted to be vice president, would that have been different? I don't think all the New York super delegates would have been mad with her. In fact, they might have been with her for that.
LIASSON: I don't think that she would have gotten herself on the ticket necessarily, and I think there are other reasons other than her performance — her performance made it easier for him to reject her. But, no, I think she diminished her stock inside the Democratic Party over the last 24 hours.
The Clinton motto is live to fight another day. They have comeback after comeback. I think that all this is reparable. And as she campaigns her heart out, as she has promised, for Barack Obama for the fall, she will be trying to repair her standing with various segments of the Democratic Party coalition, like African-Americans, which she needs to do if she's going to have a future.
HUME: Let's look ahead, if we can, and posit this event. They're not even sure what building they're going to use, because her supporters are coming to Washington. She gets up in front of them. They will be delirious for her, as they have all along, cheering her wildly. These are the delegates and supporters that back her.
When she gets up there, will she be able to pull the trigger and say "I hereby concede the election and endorse my opponent Barack Obama," and how will they respond? What is this going to be like?
KRAUTHAMMER: She will do it with the gracious unctuousness that will be just astonishing. It will work, and you'll know that she will be doing it through her teeth. Her fans will be —
HUME: You think she will do it, though?
LIASSON: I think finally she will doing it.
KRAUTHAMMER: Her fans will chant "Denver," and she will shush them, and say, no, let's be civil here.
BARNES: Of course, because she is now pursuing plan b. Plan b is to be nice. Being tough didn't work because she couldn't hold her coalition together, but being nice, which usually doesn't work in war and diplomacy or politics either, either, is all she has left.
KRAUTHAMMER: It's going to be a hell of a show.
HUME: When we return with our panel, the bickering over soaring gas prices continues on Capitol Hill today. Which party has the upper hand, and can anything be done to save money at the pump? This is going to be a good political story. Stay tuned.
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ROY BLUNT, (R) HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: Then all these renewables, I'm for all of that, but that does not make any short-term difference. And we have significant resources of our own we ought to be going after, and Republicans are willing to do that, and Democrats aren't.
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HUME: And with that message Republicans in the House of Representatives have been pounding away at the Democrats for some time now on the issue of gasoline prices with a string of press releases and press conferences, like the one you saw Congressman Blunt speaking at just now.
And, of course, central to the argument is this whole question of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, among other places. And the Republicans say they are for it, the Democrats say they're against it.
The polling on it, Fred, seems to have changed on this issue.
BARNES: It has. I can't remember the last time I cold say, as I can this time, that Republicans have the upper hand on an issue. And they do. And the polling has changed. It shows that nearly 60 percent of Americans now favor domestic oil drilling, both offshore and in federally- owned lands, which I think ANWAR is certainly one. They favor that.
And, interestingly enough, the percentage of Americans who blame the oil companies for the problems we're having now with high gas prices has shrunk in half. They are not blaming the oil companies. And so Republicans are in favor of increasing supply to reduce gasoline prices.
Democrats, if you remember back in the campaign of 2006, Brit, Democrats promised a common sense plan that would deal with gasoline prices, which then were about $2.50, and they have gone up $1.50 since the Democrats promised this plan. They haven't produced one, a plan, and gas prices have risen.
And Republicans have a solution. Let's drill more domestically. It wouldn't affect things immediately, but overtime, it would, and I think it would calm these spooky oil markets around the world.
LIASSON: When you're the opposite party, this is pretty much exactly what you should be doing — coming up with a solution to a problem and blaming the majority party for not having one.
However, I think it's going to be hard for voters to suddenly blame high gas prices on Nancy Pelosi. I think, in general, the incumbent party, meaning the party that has the White House, is going to be blamed, or at least get tagged with all of the unhappiness about the economy, including gas prices.
I think they're on to something, I just don't know how much political benefit they will get.
KRAUTHAMMER: I agree entirely. Nobody is going to look at the Speaker of the House and say she is responsible for what I'm paying at the pump. It is always the executive, always the president.
I think the Republicans have an argument, a very strong one, that if a Democratic president ten years ago had vetoed the drilling in the arctic, we would not have a million barrels a day coming out of the arctic, which not only would relieve our supply issues and lower the price, but would mean that instead of a billion dollars a week headed to Saudi Arabia or to Caracas, it would end up in the American economy instead of the foreign economy.
So it is a strong argument, except that the Republicans have one problem — John McCain opposed ANWAR. And that to me —
HUME: Drilling in the arctic.
KRAUTHAMMER: Yes, drilling in the arctic. And that, to me is just inexcusable on his part.
I can understand his opposing drilling on the outer continental shelf, because it would be too close to Florida. And his position is that it should be up to each state, so it would be pure, cynical politics, which is entirely understandable and excusable.
But in the arctic, the Alaskans want there to be drilling. It would help us immeasurably, and to oppose it is pure vanity. And that's McCain, and he stuck with it.
So here's a case in which the Republicans could make a very strong argument on how the Democrats have squeezed our supply and are responsible, at least in part, for our pain at the pump, and they have a presidential candidate who can't make that argument because there is an absurd stand on ANWAR.
HUME: Doesn't that also mean, Fred, that it is an issue that doesn't help McCain and can't help McCain no matter what Obama's position is in the fall?
BARNES: It won't help McCain, for sure. And Obama's position is that he is not for any increased oil production at all.
The public is smart, though. They understand supply and demand. That's not a difficult concept to understand. Demand is high, and supply is constricted.
And I think Republicans have an argument that I think it can be an actually politically winning argument that brings them some benefits. One, President Bush has to keep pounding away that we need the increased production, and point out that, look, in Florida, you're not going to drill off Palm Beach. You're going to be drilling 100 miles out offshore.
HUME: Where in Cuba China already is drilling.
BARNES: China is 60 miles offshore drilling there for the Cubans right now.
So this is an issue that I think Republicans can do a lot with, but they do need McCain to switch as well.
HUME: Last word, Mara.
LIASSON: I agree. A concerted chorus for this would be better. But right now they don't have them.
HUME: Even though the lead singer is absent from the chorus.
LIASSON: No, I think it would be bet for them, better for congressional Republicans if he was. I don't know if it would be better for McCain to flip on this.
BARNES: He's singing off key.
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