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Special Report

Good News to Get Away On?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 5, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Based on today's jobs report, we've now seen private sector job growth for ten straight months. That means that since January, the private sector has added 1.1 million jobs.

Now, that's not good enough. The unemployment rate is still unacceptably high and we’ve got a lot of work to do. On the trip I'm about to talk about opening additional markets in places like India so American businesses can sell more abroad in order to create more jobs here at home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, HOST OF “SPECIAL REPORT”: The president speaking today as he starts this trip.  There you see all the spots, India, Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan. The trip has been the focus of a lot of talk. There was talk in an Indian press report about the trip costing $200 million a day. The administration had to deal with that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEOFF MORRELL, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd this notion that somehow we are deploying 10 percent of the Navy, some 34 ships and aircraft carrier in support of the president's trip. That's just comical. Nothing close to that is being done.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not going into how much it costs to protect the president. Costs are comparable to when President Clinton and President Bush traveled abroad. But this trip doesn't cost $200 million a day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: They won't say how much it costs, but they're saying it doesn't cost $200 million a day and that it's on par with other trips of other presidents with the security surrounding that.

What about all of this? Let's bring in our panel, Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Two points here, Fred. One is the economy and two is the president's trip.

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Let me start with the economy. The economy is giving the president and I think it should, reason to be encouraged.

On the other hand, the recession ended in June of 2009. Here we are 16 months later and the growth in private sector jobs is still not enough to reduce unemployment. We've had 15 months of unemployment over 9.5 percent. That's very high.

So as improved as these numbers are in private job growth, they're still given how long ago the recession ended, they're still pretty anemic.

And as far as the trip to India goes, look, I'm all for protecting the president wherever he goes. It doesn't cost $200 million a day. That sounds high, but he is the president of the United States. And he needs to be protected.

And we've come into -- the media has come into this where if this trip takes too long and why is he going on now -- there's every reason to take this trip to go to the Far East. I don't think he's doing it to escape from bad election results, although it may have that effect.

But, you know, particularly the trip to India where the ties have deteriorated a little bit since President Clinton and President Bush and they really need to be reinvigorated. And he needs to tell the Indians he's committed to winning in Afghanistan, because they're not so sure.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: We're still in a recession. If experts don't want to call it one, that's fine, but we are.  We don't have enough jobs and it looks like this is near 10 percent unemployment for a while until we create enough to get it down. So that jobs report is good news, because it wasn't bad news as far as I'm concerned.

As far as him taking 200 American CEOs to India on a trip delayed twice.

BAIER: Do we know how many CEOs?

STODDARD: It's either 200 to 250. We'll find out for sure.  It's many. It's a huge effort to try to open markets to our goods and services, and I think it's obviously drastically necessary.

I think that the fact this trip was delayed because of health care reform and then delayed a second time because of the oil spill. I think everyone -- I agree with Fred, the timing is probably cost efficient to tag it on to trips to meetings with the G-20.

And I just wonder if we weren't so wild over fictional cost estimates we don't have evidence of. When President Bush went in 2006, I wonder why this is a big story.

BAIER: I've been to many G-20s, and you travel with a big group.  When you get there there's a ton of security and it costs a lot of money.  But $200 million a day, the administration is saying, Charles, is far- fetched and out of left field.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Even if it were near that amount, if that's what it takes to make sure not a hair on his head is touched, particularly abroad, particularly in a city that suffered one of the most savage terror attacks in Mumbai, I would spend every penny.  People are complaining we take offer the Raj hotel. What are you going on to do? You want people in control of every inch of that hotel and that's natural.   Now, on the other issue whether it's going to increase jobs, I think it's obviously convenient to tack it on after you’ve had a bad election over jobs. The real reason the trip is happening is because India was slighted by what Obama did early in the presidency. He went to China. He went to East Asia. He didn't go to India.   China is an adversary. We have guns pointed at each other across the Taiwan Strait. India is our natural ally and it should be where everybody president goes the first week, the way a president goes to Canada or Britain, a natural ally, a trip that had to be, long delayed, which I think the Indians were a little bit upset about.   I admit we're removing the coconuts from the trees on the way to the museum is slightly excessive. And as one who has never suffered from an assault by coconut, I'm sure that the armored vehicle in which he travels can resist a rocket-propelled grenade can probably sustain a coconut attack.

BAIER: The estimates for President Clinton's trip to Africa were somewhere in the $5 million to $6 million range. Fred, what about Republican critics who say don't go to India to try to get these jobs.  Pass the free trade agreements that are pending?

BARNES: OK, the president now says he's for them. Where's the action? He says he's for the free trade agreement with South Korea, which everybody else has in the free world. But then he says he wants to renegotiate the treaty. That’ll take years.

And particularly the treaty with Colombia and South Korea are all to the advantage of the United States. Why is the president holding up? Only one reason -- labor unions that support him and are part of the Democratic coalition are against it.

BAIER: After this election does that change?

STODDARD: I think it’s just easier for him with the Democrats out of power to move on the trade issues. It's something to work on with Republicans. The problem for Republicans, they have freshman coming in not on bloc free traders.

BAIER: And Congressman Boehner mentioned that specifically as one thing he would like to negotiate and compromise with the president.

KRAUTHAMMER: Right and I think the House would pass it. I think the Republicans have an operating majority in the Senate particularly on this issue, and the president would be happy if it came to him. He would not veto it. It would pass and it would be good for the country.

BAIER: Logon to our homepage at FOXnews.com/Special Report. Up next, the Friday lightning round.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)BAIER: A live look outside Capitol Hill there. We've done the winner of the online viewers' choice for the Friday lightning round, which was the president's trip to Asia. So we start the segment with this -- Nancy Pelosi's future. She says she's going to for minority leader.

STODDARD: This is really a stunner. We've known in the last 48 hours she was making calls around and gauging support among a mostly liberal caucus. Half of the conservative Democrats lost their races and they did not want to vote for her for leader.

She was really expected to step down all along and the House majority leader Steny Hoyer, would step up. She's running for this position and Steny Hoyer, who has been preparing for it, is now trying to run for whip.  Jim Clyburn is the current whip.   Hoyer and other Democrats who support him and didn't want Nancy Pelosi to step into the leader position hope she will exert leadership around ask everyone move down in the row and keep their position in the leadership line if that was her idea.   Just because she has corralled the votes doesn't mean she has that support. It's calling in of chips leadership election and people are very unhappy.

BAIER: The Republicans it the "Fire Pelosi" bus, now they have the "Hire Pelosi" sign outside the RNC.

KRAUTHAMMER: All I can say is how good a week can one have?  Pelosi is the poster child of San Francisco liberalism and she's going to remain apparently. The only thing that could top it would be the president says that he lost this election not because of substance but because of communication. Oh wait, that actually happened. BAIER: Fred.

BARNES: The voters were frustrated because they didn't understand the president's message.

KRAUTHAMMER: They got scared and did not think straight.

BARNES: The democratic caucus in the House is more liberal than ever and who would be their favorite, and it makes sense to have Nancy Pelosi. This is a bipartisan choice.

BAIER: What about a Republican, Michele Bachmann from Minnesota is seeking the GOP conference chair taking over for Mike Pence in that position. What about that, Fred?

BARNES: I think it makes a lot of sense. She would be very good. Here's how she could win. Jeb Hensarling, the Texas Republican, is the establishment favorite. But you're going to have about 90 new Republican members. And I suspect a large majority of them be going to be very in sync with Michele Bachmann.

BAIER: Tea party caucus, the head in number four?

STODDARD: She's raised more money than John Boehner, but the leadership supports Hensarling. This is not making them happy.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think she's likely to fall short. It's a little early for the established Republicans to accept someone of her orientation in leadership.

BAIER: Even after the vote Tuesday?

KRAUTHAMMER: I'm not sure but the only regret I would have is she'd be incredibly entertaining in that position.

BAIER: Surprise race, results?

KRAUTHAMMER: Statehouse in Alabama goes Republican for the first time in 130 years.

STODDARD: Joe Donnelly from Indiana in the second district pulled out a win. His other mates in the delegation are gone. And Brad Ellsworth was beaten by Dan Coats in the Senate race by 19 points. It is quite astounding that he pulled out.

BARNES: The Minnesota eight where Jim Oberstar has been the Democratic congressman was off the radar, in Minnesota even, much less and nationally. But he made one huge mistake, and that was to agree to a debate.

BAIER: One of the chairmen who went down, Spratt, Oberstar, and Ike Skelton. Also, North Carolina legislature a big shift for Republicans.

KRAUTHAMMER: And 19 in all state houses, amazing results.

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