No Laughing Matter?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 28, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: I look over the last 18 months, and I say we prevented if second great depression, we stabilized the economy, an economy that is shrinking is now growing. We have done things that some folks don't even know about.

JON STEWART, HOST OF,”THE DAILY SHOW&rdq uo;: What have you done that we don't know about?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, no, no --

STEWART: Are you planning a surprise party for us? Filled with jobs and healthcare!

OBAMA: Larry Summers did a heck of a job trying to figure out how to --

STEWART: You don't want to use that phrase, dude.

OBAMA: I was -- pun intended.


BRET BAIER, HOST OF “SPECIAL REPORT”: Well, the president on the "Daily Show" on Comedy Central. That last clip you saw there, Larry Summers, the senior advisor, economic advisor to the president who just recently left.

He was referring to Larry Summers' job in the White House and making reference to a heck of a job. That goes back to the Bush administration. You remember former FEMA director when former President Bush said, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Then you saw the phrase "Dude" from Jon Stewart. The Washington Post had this to say about that exchange. Dana Milbank writing, quote, "Dude, the indignity of a comedy show host calling the commander-in-chief dude pretty well captured the moment for Obama. Going on, Obama didn't try to connect with his youthful audience. He was serious and defensive, pointing a finger at his host several times as he quarreled with the premise of a question."

What about this appearance and his role in this election? Let's bring in our panel, Stephen Hayes, senior writer for Weekly Standard, Juan Williams, Fox News contributor and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, Barbara Boxer grizzled when a general called her "Ma'am" and here we have Barack Obama grinning when a comedienne calls him "dude" and he's president, she's only a senator.

You know, one of the principal rules of governance is that if you are the prince, you are ruler. You should be husbanding your aura and doling it out in small doses. This is particularly important for a man like Obama who runs to the presidency on charisma.

I mean, on that aura. It wasn't on his record. It's wasn't on his achievements in the past. It was his persona. I don't think this diminishes the office.  It diminishes the man who's now holding the office.

Look, it's not the end of the world, but I think it's another anecdote, another incident, which gives you the trajectory between the kind of celestial character he made himself to be, you know, in that great Denver speech and the pillars around him hovering above everything.

And of course also in Berlin and now his with a comedian who calls him "dude." That’s quite a fall.

BAIER: Juan, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today said the appearance was a success. He said if the president was worried about people calling him dude he would never leave the residence. They kind of blew off all this coverage in the Dana Milbank column. What about that?

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it was a smart move. It's a political move. We live in a very different media landscape.

BAIER: You mean the appearance to begin with?

WILLIAMS: Yes, the appearance was a smart move. I mean, some people call to mind Arsenio Hall with Bill Clinton playing the saxophone and the like.

It seems to me here you have a moment where the president is clearly trying to appeal to a specific demographic, younger people in America. And he’s having trouble with that.

Jon Stewart is a big outlet to reach to young America. He also has been on Univision, the Spanish language network for an interview. He was on MTV for an interview if you recall.

So it's very clear that he is reaching out to this demographic very aggressively. And I think you're going to see --

BAIER: When you saw Milbank say he didn't try to connect with his youthful audience, he was serious and defensive pointing a finger at Stewart numerous times about some of the questioning.

And it seems like the youthful audience didn't really get into the seriousness, they like the heck of the job and the joke after that, right?

WILLIAMS: Yes, but I think its humor. I think humor is a very effective mechanism in terms of communicating with people. I think he wants to communicate that he is every man to that audience, that he is their – he’s their guy, standing in there struggling to make it work and he knows that there is problems.

If you look at the New York Times poll this morning, my gosh.  He is losing women. He is losing independent voters. These are people who are the heart and soul of his base in 2008.

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Going on Jon Stewart doesn't solve that problem. I think the problem he faced last night is that the audience was laughing at him, not with him.

So he says, you know, Larry Summers did a heck of a job. The audience laughs. At one point, Jon Stewart said what are you going to run on this time? It was yes, we can in 2008.

What is it this time? Obama replies yes, we can, but -- and the audience just bursts out laughing. That is the last thing you want if you are trying to program the President of the United States five days before an election.

The bigger, I think, picture here is when President Obama went on the show back in 2008, at the end of that campaign; he drew 3.6 million viewers, the highest rated “Daily Show” ever.

This time he drew 2.8 million, which is a drop off of about 23 percent. I think that tells you in some senses everything you need to know about where that, quote/unquote, "base audience is."

BAIER: Charles, it was interesting that the questioning was coming from the left. I mean, very few people would look at the legislative agenda of this administration as timid.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, but I think it reflects reality. One of the reasons that the base is upset with him is because I think they really misunderstand his historic achievements like on Obamacare.

They wonder about the promises you made in Guantanamo, gays in the military, et cetera, and his continuation of the interrogation stuff, which they are offended by. But when you compare it with what he has really achieved in changing the structure of American society, Obamacare and financial reform and the stimulus.  I think there is a deep and misunderstanding of what he achieved.

I think Stewart was reflecting that. I think it's a kind of juvenile leftism. That's what he attacked Obama with. He was OK in responding, you know, seriously, but again, it was a comedy show. He was not - I mean, humor works, but not if you are on the receiving end of it.

BAIER: Juan, last thing, today there was an event on the White House schedule. The president was going to go to the Rose Garden and talk about the Chilean miner situation after meeting with some of the Americans involved in the rescue.

The White House was asked numerous times about that. Then it was dropped, the public comments in the Rose Garden were dropped, and he didn't do them.

But talking about the Chilean miner situation, even though he didn't do it, it was schedule to five days from election. It seemed kind of out left field.

WILLIAMS: I think if you're wanting to promote the idea of being presidential, America's accomplishment, doing good in the world, I think that's a large part of Obama.

The world likes Obama better than America likes Obama. So I think the idea that he is presenting a different face to the world might be appealing to some people. I just don't know that it’s gonna sell at this point.

It's pretty late in the game. But again, you know, he's not sure obviously, because he plans it and he doesn't plan it. But that is the struggle. What you said, Charles, I think they're trying to say to young people, we tried our best.

We are trying our best, but Republicans are blocking us and can't you help us? Can't you give us one more chance? That's what it comes down to.

BAIER: Last word, Steve.

HAYES: Well, I just don't think it's a good idea if you're defending your administration as being too timid from the left before an election where people, including, especially the independents are coming from the right.

BAIER: Go to our home page at foxnews.com/specialreport. Tell us how many seats you think Republicans will pick up in the House. After the break, we'll discuss voter fraud allegations.


BAIER: This panel was going to talk about voter fraud allegation, but first some breaking news. Politico is reporting after talking to Representative Kendrick Meek down in Florida. He is running for the U.S. Senate, of course, as the Democratic nominee, that he was persuaded by former President Bill Clinton to drop out of the race for Senate last week.

And Clinton nearly succeeded. Meek agreed twice to drop out and endorse Governor Charlie Crist who's running as an independent. White House Democrat said had knowledge of the plans and viewed them as a path to capturing the Senate seat, but did not initiate the talks.

Last weekend, however, Meek changed his mind. The Crist campaign in the past few seconds has put out a statement saying this story is accurate. But the governor's focus is uniting common sense Independents, Republicans and Democrats.

This is a blockbuster story if the former President Bill Clinton tried to persuade him this late in the game, the Democratic nominee to get out of that Senate race in Florida. A quick round on this, Steve?

HAYES: Well, I'm stunned. I mean, I think it's a stunning development and it's particularly ill-timed for Democrats right now who as we've discussed last night to a certain extent tonight.

Tonight, they're trying to rally the base, which includes black voters. I mean, this is where president has been spending his time trying to get black voters to come to the poll. I think, you know, when you have something like this, orchestrated by the former president with knowledge of the White House trying to get Kendrick Meek out of the race who by most accounts has acquitted himself quite well in the debates down that far better than Charlie Crist has done to support a former -- or a current Republican governor, a current governor who was once a Republican is really an unbelievable thing.

There was a moment in the debate earlier this week that I think in retrospect proves quite telling. Charlie Crist apparently carries around with him a fan where he puts it before him or below his feet during debates and things to keep him cool.

The fan was audible as he was engaging in this debate and Kendrick Meek's team sent out pictures of this fan mocking Charlie Crist, really making fun in a way that was, you know, when I saw the release, sort of striking. Now looking at that in retrospect, there must be tension still there.

BAIER: Yes, the former president campaigned for Meek, October19th and 20th down in Florida.

WILLIAMS: And he drew big crowds.

BAIER: And they're saying now -- multiple sources it was a completely done deal, but Meek changed his mind.

WILLIAMS: But Meek changed his mind, but let me say this is smart politics. I don't know what is so bad about it? In fact, Kendrick Meek despite his spectacular performance so far has been trailing badly in this race.

If you were to put together his vote and Charlie Crist's vote it could beat Marco Rubio. Rubio is not over 50 percent so from the White House perspective to get Charlie Crist there as an independent who is likely to caucus with the Democrats.

It's a spectacular winning move and that's why I think Bill Clinton was putting the pressure on and Bill Clinton has a unique standing with the black community and could have been the man to broker the deal.

BAIER: By the way, I should point out the Wall Street Journal had the story first at the beginning of October. It was shot down by all campaigns, but this is suggesting that it got really down the road, Charles.

KRAUTHAMMER: I am with Juan on this. I think this is run of the mill cynicism and what you'd want to do if you want to win. What is interesting is that Rubio admitted I think just today that his lead has narrowed. It's down to about seven points.

A while ago, it was about 15 or perhaps even more. So there already is a sort of natural slippage away in the Meek constituency, which is wanting to go with a winner.

I suspect had they pulled it off Crist might actually have won, but this is way late in the game and I think now the cynicism is going to hit, that their constituency a little bit. It may depress the vote.

BAIER: We're going to follow the story tomorrow on "Special Report" definitely. Quickly, Steve, just a minute left. Voter fraud allegations. Serious. They happen perennially, but it seems like they're popping up early this time.

HAYES: They are. I think to a certain extent what you've got is both sides lining up their post-election argument in the event of really close tallies and need for recounts.

But these are serious allegations and you've got them across the country from the south to Nevada, some serious allegations in Nevada.  There are investigations going on by the secretary of state in Connecticut and others.

So yes, this is a serious issue. I think we're likely to probably spend a lot of time on this in the days after November 2 election.

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