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Special Report

Who Will Challenge Obama?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 19, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you ran for president, could you beat Barack Obama?

SARAH PALIN, FORMER  ALASKA GOVERNOR : I believe so.

(LAUGHTER)

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Look, I don't -- I'll get trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, OK.

BIDEN: I don't think she could beat President Obama, but, you know, she's always underestimated. So, you know, I think -- I think I shouldn't say anymore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, HOST OF “SPECIAL REPORT”: They're laughing about it over there on MSNBC, the vice president talking about a possible candidacy for former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, current FOX News contributor, we should mention.

What about this and the rest of the potential field? Let's bring in our panel in New York, Rich Lowry, editor of The National Review, Kirsten Powers, columnist of the New York Post and New York Daily News, and columnist Andrea Tantaros. Welcome. Rich, let's start with you. Sarah Palin thinks she's in and what about her possibility to get the nomination?

RICH LOWRY, THE NATIONAL REVIEW: I think she's running. If you're a politically ambitious person with a pretty good chance to win a major party nomination for president of the United States, you run.

I think she'll have several challenges if she gets in, several tests. One, can she form a cohesive team that's well organized. Two, can she demonstrate mastery of the issues. Three, can she show that she kind of has a thick skin, doesn't have to respond to absolutely everything. And four and I think the most important one in some ways, Bret, is that head-to-head number against Barack Obama, because she's losing to him now. What you hear from Republicans around the country, when you bring up Sarah Palin, they say they love her, they admire her, but worry whether she can get elected or not.

BAIER: Kirsten, we mentioned in the piece that Iowa and South Carolina, she looks very strong.

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: Right.

BAIER: She obviously sucks a lot of oxygen out of any room when you talk about her as a candidate. But reaching to the middle and independents in a general election is what has some Republicans questioning it.

POWERS: Well, I think she's not by any means the strongest general election candidate just because of all the things that you raised. And the fact that she -- you know, I've talked to a lot of people in Alaska about what it was like to work with her, and we can see this is true. She's a fly by the seat of your pants kind of person. Can she put together an organization?

Maybe she can get through the primaries off of her rock star power, but after that she'll need something more to navigate a general election. So I think the question is, do we start seeing her put together that looks like an organization versus what still seems to be very much like "The Sarah Show." She's making all the decisions, working well for what she's doing now, but not for running for president.

BAIER: Although she gave a policy speech recently, and she's been going around. She's also selling a book.

ANDREA TANTAROS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Right. I think the show she's doing gives her the best venue for speaking to the American people from the personal side, although the policy side I don't think one speech is enough. Ronald Reagan, before he won, he would give weekly radio speeches and he would do the research himself on very serious, heady policy issues.

She's yet to do that. So while I think the next book coming out will help her connect on a personal life, but there are policy and political deficits that she'll have to overcome.

BAIER: Let's go down the row. Somebody else in that list that interests you, and why.

TANTAROS: Well, Charles Krauthammer didn't name a name --

BAIER: He's not running.

(LAUGHTER)

TANTAROS: I would nominate him and vote for him.

You know, he says the anti-Obama basically. I think the anti- Obama is Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana. I mean, you don't get drier than the former OMB director under Bush. This guy is a number cruncher.

But what he's done in Indiana, Bret, he privatized the interstate, and everybody held after he did it, but it turned out to be a genius move. He's taken budget deficits and turned them into budget surpluses. He's created thousands of jobs. The guy is dry, but he's very, very likely, and I think he has a very god chance of challenging Barack Obama from a very crucial state.

BAIER: Kirsten?

POWERS: I think that's sort of the Johnson and Mitch Daniels fit into what Charles is talking about if it turns out into the year of the dull as he said it would be, then those would be the type of people.

But I think when you go through the list it always leads you back to Sarah Palin. And the reason is because most of these people are kind of -- yes, they're great on paper, they're kind of like the Bill Frist. Remember Bill Frist? Great on paper, but when it really comes to connecting with voters doesn't really work.

The only one that really jumps out me as a great candidate is Haley Barbour. I just think that he --

BAIER: Governor of Mississippi.

POWERS: -- brings a lot to the table, and obviously can raise tons of money. He's a great communicator. You know, he's a great governor. To me he's the only one that seems like somebody that could give her a run for her money.

BAIER: Rich?

LOWRY: I think dull is great in theory, but primary voters operate on the basis of passion, especially in the Iowa caucus. You don't get people to go out there at 8:00 at night on a cold, freezing Iowa night just because you're dull and worthy. You really have to motivate had people.

Someone who really has both the substance and the personality is Chris Christie. He has an impressive first round --

BAIER: Although he's adamant that he's not running.

LOWRY: He's viral on YouTube, but he's probably not going to run. But someone like that that can have both of those aspects is the ideal candidate.

BAIER: Something tells me we'll be talking about this again.

POWERS: Yes, I think you're right.

BAIER: You voted at our homepage FOXnews.com/specialreport for our topic for the Friday lightning round. Up next, the winner.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BAIER: Welcome back to New York tonight, "Special Report" here at the FOX News headquarters. Every week we ask viewers to vote in our online poll, what the first topic in this, the Friday lightning round should be. You can vote on our homepage every week.

And the winner is the fallout from the Ghailani verdict, which is Ahmed Ghailani, the first Guantanamo Bay detainee, who was tried. He was acquitted of more than 280 counts. He was convicted of one count. What does this mean going forward? We're back with the panel. Andrea?

TANTAROS: I think it's an embarrassment to the administration. I think that Obama's going to have to back off some of the promises that he made during the campaign. I think, Bret, he's essentially already done that. The only thing he hasn't done is acknowledged that he's backed off them.

I think he needs to led Holder go. It would give him an opportunity to shift gears without accepting any responsibility or wrongdoing, which we know a lot of presidents, including Obama, aren't very good at doing.

BAIER: Kirsten?

POWERS: They say he'll get 20 years to life, so it's a little misleading the way it's being reported. It makes you think he got off on everything. The reason he wasn't found guilty has nothing to with Obama. I has to do with the Bush administration and enhanced interrogations and having evidence thrown out.

Conservatives are saying if it was a military commission, then it wouldn't have been thrown out. That actually is not true. The judge has said that the evidence would have been handled exactly the same way in a military commission, it would have been thrown out.

Which brings us to the next point. There's no reason for it to be held in a military commission because, you know, for precisely that reason.

And then you have the Obama administration saying, oh, by the way, wink-wink, even if he was found not guilty, we would still hold him. I mean, what is this? Are we a banana republic or the United States of America?

BAIER: So you don't think it changes their wish to do civilian trials?

POWERS: I think they're politically wimpy, so I think they will be swayed on this, and I think they will be swayed on Guantanamo because they've shown no ability to stand up to anybody on that.

But the bottom line is the Obama administration has acted just as badly, in my view, as the people who are claiming that this guy should have been put in front of a military commission where he was already basically tried and found guilty in everybody's minds.

BAIER: Rich?

LOWRY: The reason why this is the showcase case they thought it was going to be so easy. They came within a hair's breadth of a mistrial. They got a compromised verdict just barely that makes no sense. I mean, does anyone think it makes sense to find him guilty of conspiring to blow up an embassy but not to kill the people within the embassy?

BAIER: All the terrorism charges were dropped essentially.

LOWRY: Right. Everyone knows this is a debacle. They're not going to bring KSM here and Gitmo will stay open for a very, very long time.

And the reason why the Bush administration interrogated this guy is because we're in a war and we have someone with real live information about other operatives and possibly other ploys, and you want to get that information very quickly.

And if that means not honoring every single nicety of our criminal justice system, go get the information. And even the Obama administration realizes these guys are different, and that's why they said, as Kirsten points out, that they would detain him even if he got acquitted.

BAIER: This is a meaty lightning round in New York.

(LAUGHTER)

We'll go to TSA. Really quickly down the row, what about this? Where does it go? What about the controversy?

LOWRY: If you're going to roll out a policy that requires groping people's genitals, you have to be careful how you do it. The TSA has fumbled this. They're going to back off a little bit. They're already showing that.

But the fundamental problem, Bret, is we need a more intelligence-based system where actually get information about travelers and then make judgments about who makes more of a threat than the 79-year- old grandma from Topeka. That requires our political system shaping up here.

BAIER: Kirsten?

POWERS: Well, 81 percent of Americans support the scanners in the CBS poll. So I think all the screaming and yelling about naked pictures, blah, blah, blah, does not represent the way most Americans see this, which means they would rather do that than be blown up midair.

So I think a lot of this is kind of hysterical, but I do agree with what Rich said, we need to have a better system. And there are better scanners, by the way.

TANTAROS: I think that that poll can't actually be accurate because most people haven't had their junk fondled yet. Let's see what happens when they do. I doubt they will have a full-throated endorsement of this.

Look, I think the public is awake now. Before, we talked about profiling, but now it's raised the issue of what else can we do besides this, because now it's on a personal level.

BAIER: They're awake now.

TANTAROS: They're awake now.

LOWRY: The word "junk" has arrived.

(LAUGHTER)

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