This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Bret Baier" from May 17, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, D-PENN.: I believe that the seniority, the experience is what it takes to see to it that Pennsylvania gets its fair share.
REP. JOE SESTAK, D-PENN., U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: I appreciate my Democratic establishment. But the status quo is not acceptable. And I respect Arlen Specter, but his time truly has come and it's gone.
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's been a tough year for incumbents.
QUESTION: How closely has the president been following these campaigns?
GIBBS: Not that much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, "SPECIAL REPORT" HOST: The White House responding to some questions today as a big day, primary day tomorrow, with elections in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Oregon. We'll break it all down for you here. Let's bring in our panel, Tucker Carlson, editor of TheDailyCaller.com, Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Mara, first to you. You had to exhale when the White House said they haven't been watching.
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Of course they're watching this closely. That really is one of the biggest white lies in Washington. We don't pay attention to the polls. We don't pay attention to the elections.
These elections are fascinating. These incumbents are in trouble all over the place. Earlier in the year, we said will the Tea Party be divisive for Republicans? Not it's Democrats in two cases, Arkansas and Pennsylvania, where the incumbents are either in danger of losing their jobs and ending their career, as in Pennsylvania, or, if not, maybe being forced into another costly divisive runoff in the case of Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas.
Both of these guys, Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas, Arlen Specter, the party-switcher in Pennsylvania, are both being challenged from their left, and they're both fighting for their political lives.
BAIER: Tucker, let's start in Pennsylvania, the Specter-Sestak race. And here's the Real Clear Politics average of the recent polls. It has Sestak up by about three. This is the average of the polls. The trend has been towards Sestak in recent days. What about this race?
TUCKER CARLSON, EDITOR, THEDAILYCALLER.COM: We can't call it right now. We'll know soon. Everybody I've spoken to in Pennsylvania believe Sestak has the momentum. Certainly the White House, as Mara said, has been paying very close attention.
Sestak said they tried to bribe him into not running against Arlen Specter in the primary, offering him an executive branch job in exchange for dropping out of the race.
We know they have been playing close attention, and the reason they have been is Sestak is probably too far to the left specifically on guns and abortion to win in the statewide.
BAIER: Against Pat Toomey.
CARLSON: That's right. If you look at the senators that state has elected, you know, they're not polarizing ideologues, particularly on those two issues. You can't be too liberal on those and win. And the White House knows that.
I would have thought Obama, who is very much better at campaigning than he is at governing, would have had more influence in that state that he's been able to bring to bear, but no.
BAIER: What about the choice not to go and campaign for Specter? Is it seen as a lost cause now? Clearly, an Obama visit, even Ed Rendell the Pennsylvania governor said if he came in, he could fire up turnout in Philadelphia, for example.
CARLSON: The promise was that Rendell had it under control. Rendell of course has been an arch-supporter of the long time senator Arlen Specter. I think the White house thought he had it wired. And it looks like coming down to it he didn't have it wired.
BAIER: Other races, Charles, that you think are interesting tomorrow?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think the one that I'm looking at is the Pennsylvania 12, which is the House seat held by the late John Murtha. Democratic seat, a very interesting swing state, the swingiest of all swing states. It swims upstream, and it's the only district in the country that in 2004 went for John Kerry and in 2008 went to John McCain, picking a loser each time.
It's neck and neck between the Democrat and the Republican. The Democrat is a top aide to John Murtha. I think this is -- and it's not a primary election. This is a special election. So they're going to elect a member of Congress.
I think it tells us a lot. This is sort of a district heavily Democratic but sort of Reagan Democrats. The Democrats held it for a long time. They could lose it tomorrow and that would be a trend.
I think the real issue here is this is an election which is every incumbent, so everybody gets attacked from the fringes, a Democrat attacked from the left like Sestak, a Republican attacked from the right like in Kentucky.
And I think what I think is more likely is that it's basically anti-big government, anti- Obama, anti-the left wing agenda. It's not so much anti-incumbent. That's an element of it. But I think the major element of the campaign is the pressure from the right.
There was an election in West Virginia where the democrat lost in the primary. He had a challenger from the right. He was attacked on his vote on health care. I think that's the main theme of this election, and we'll see it in Arkansas. If Lincoln holds off the challenger on the left, it will tell us it's less anti-incumbent bent that it is less anti-big government and anti-Obama agenda.
LIASSON: We have to talk about Kentucky.
LIASSON: Kentucky is really interesting –
BAIER: Let's put up the poll. The Real Clear Politics average of that Republican primary, there you see the --
LIASSON: He is so far ahead.
BAIER: Rand Paul ran big against the really, just the --
LIASSON: The establishment.
BAIER: -- minority leaders back and Trey Grayson.
LIASSON: Trey Grayson has Mitch McConnell's backing. He's the secretary of state. Rand Paul is an eye doctor who has never run for anything. But he's the son who you could call the forefather of the tea party, Ron Paul. He ran for president, he's a libertarian, and the Tea Party is very much libertarian.
Ron Paul has a great fundraising base that his son has inherited. And he's been consistently not only in front of his Republican opponent Trey Grayson, he's consistently ahead in these hypothetical head-to-head matchups against the Democratic candidates who might run against him.
The great Democratic hope in Kentucky is Rand Paul is too far to the right, too wacky. He's so far to the right that Mitch McConnell wouldn't support him. He's against the Patriot Act. He's against the war in Iraq. He wants to get rid of the Federal Reserve. He's almost, you know --
CARLSON: I'm not trying to put you on the right. Ok. Well, that's --
LIASSON: He's so far to the right --
CARLSON: That's name calling here when we start throwing those terms around. Look, Grayson has run a really revealing, I think, spectacularly unimpressive campaign against Ron Paul -- Rand Paul, rather, who is not succeeding because he's the son of Ron. He's succeeding because he's running an interesting, principled campaign. Grayson, by contrast, he's a Republican, is attacking Paul for being against farm subsidies and criticizing the Department of Education, OK? So if Paul is some kind of right wing wacko, then Grayson is certainly whatever the liberal equivalent of that is.
LIASSON: Let's put it this way, libertarian wacko.
CARLSON: But is it ok in the Republican primary to attack someone as anti-Kentucky for questioning farm subsidies or the efficacy of the education department? Come on. This guy deserves -- I'm sorry, I can't control myself.
BAIER: That's why you're here. Charles, last word.
KRAUTHAMMER: If that's allowed do we do it here?
BAIER: That's right.
KRAUTHAMMER: I think Paul is pretty far out there in terms of mainstream conservative thinking, abolishing the Fed is a pretty radical step. He's not as wacko as his dad who wants to break up NATO, withdraw from all of our alliances, et cetera. I think on foreign affairs he's a lot less isolationist. But he's highly libertarian.
BAIER: But could you see an election here tomorrow that you could paint a picture that the tea party has a real effect, like a legitimate effect on these races that are going to be winding up tomorrow?
KRAUTHAMMER: Yes, it will have an obvious effect on the Republican races and a more subtle effect on the Democratic. But I think the push is from the far right, it's not just anti-incumbent. And the tea party is essentially the epicenter of it.
BAIER: You can get more on the primaries, and we'll have complete coverage tomorrow. But go to our homepage at foxnews.com/specialreport.
Up next, Iran makes a deal, but does it fly with the U.S.?
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AHMET DAVUTOGLU, TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER: We have achieved a great success, showing that there is room for diplomacy.
GIBBS: What this proposal signifies is less and less they agreed to last October.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Iran agreed this weekend as it did back in October with Russia to offload roughly 2,600 pounds of low-enriched uranium, saying it's a deal, and they're moving off. The U.S. says not so fast. It may not mean a thing.
We're back with the panel about Iran. Tucker, this seems like a daily occurrence, Iran says with sanctions, once the process starts, they say we've got a deal now. But does it mean anything?
CARLSON: Here's, as far as I can tell, the bottom line. The head of Iran's nuclear internal nuclear department says almost verbatim, there is no relationship between this deal and enrichment. In other words, Iran can continue to enrich unimpeded whatever amount of nuclear materials it likes, presumably for use in weapons systems.
So in what way does this slow down Iran's nuclear weapon program? It doesn't. It does, however, maybe put off the day of reckoning on sanctions another year or two. So it's entirely good from the point of view of Iran and less than that for the rest of the world.
BAIER: And Russia is already saying let's meet and delay this process, and possibly signaling that they're not going to sign on to something.
LIASSON: That's the real dangerous thing is if this splits the coalition that the United States is so desperately trying to put together for sanctions. Every single minute that there are no sanctions, the centrifuges are spinning, and they're going to continue to do so, and Iran is very open about it.
So that's the real danger of this, all of a sudden, China or Russia or the Europeans will start getting less enthusiastic about sanctions. I think this is a real blow to the United States efforts, which it said was going to -- we're going to bear fruit pretty soon.
I think that, you know, containment looks like something in our very near future.
BAIER: You think that's where this administration is?
LIASSON: No, I think -- well, I think this administration is desperately trying to put some sanctions that will bite and actually convince Iran to stop doing what it wants to do.
But if Iran believes that having a bomb is in its national interest, why would sanctions of any sort make them change their mind? I think they're hell-bent on having it, and I think they probably will.
KRAUTHAMMER: I think this marks the total collapse of our nuclear policy with Iraq. And ironically it's not Russia or China that killed it. It's Brazil and Turkey.
Iran will retain more than half of its uranium and declared today it will enrich it up to 20 percent. It continues to enrich uranium. As the French foreign ministry said today, this has no effect whatsoever on stopping Iran's nuclear program.
With the most dismay -- and of course, what it's going to do, it's going to stop any sanctions. The Russians are going to hold out. The Chinese are going to hold out. It will give Iran another year, year and a half, after the Obama administration has already wasted a year and a half.
So this is a disaster for our stopping Iran getting nukes, but it's worse than that. I think this is a collapse of the Obama foreign policy of the last year-and-a-half. There's a picture that we saw today of the leaders of Brazil, our biggest ally in Latin America and Turkey, the Muslim anchor of NATO, our most important anchor in the area, holding hands triumphantly with the most anti-American leader in the world.
Not that is a picture that is absolutely astonishing. What it tells you is how American allies have watched this administration in action over the last year and a half and have decided there's no profit of being an ally of this administration after all the apologies, the excuses, the appeasement.
They watch Russia exert its influence over Eastern Europe, over Ukraine, over Georgia. They watched the administration appease Iran fruitlessly, being insulted time and again and returning as if nothing had happened.
It watches our appeasement of Syria, sending an ambassador to Syria that's re-exerting its influence over Lebanon and supplying Hezbollah with Scuds.
And it watches -- Brazil is watching in Latin America as Hugo Chavez organizes anti-American coalitions, and in Honduras where a Chavez ally reaches to become a dictator and the U.S. supports him against the rest of the country.
All of that and they look around and say there is no profit in being an ally of the United States. We're going to realign ourselves, and there's no danger in raising hands with the Iranian leader and being on the other side. This is not just America in decline. This is America in retreat. The world is seeing it and acting rationally accordingly.
BAIER: So does this day speed up the process for Israel?
KRAUTHAMMER: I think this is the message to Israel that any attempt to stop Iran before it goes nuclear will not succeed. And ultimately, it's going to have to decide on its own if it's going to allow genocidal regime dedicated to Israel's extermination to acquire the means of genocide. I think the answer is Israel will not allow it.
BAIER: Quick answers -- does Israel attack Iran?
CARLSON: Moving in that direction, no question about that.
LIASSON: I truly don't know, but they consider it a very live option, that's for sure.
KRAUTHAMMER: It's only a question of time, I think, and also a technical question. The Israelis think they actually have the technical capacity to set Iran back a few years. It doesn't have to be a permanent solution, but it has to be at least a few years.
BAIER: That's it for the panel, but stay tuned for some of BP's ideas to fix the Gulf oil spill you may not have heard yet.
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