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Special Report

The President Points the Finger Over Immigration Reform; Bill Clinton vs. Obama

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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: In some, the system is broken. And everybody knows it. Unfortunately, reform has been held hostage to political posturing and special interest wrangling and to the pervasive sentiment in Washington that tackling such a thorny and emotional issue is inherently bad politics.

SEN. JON KYL, R-ARIZ.: He's president and his party has huge priorities in both bodies, and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid could bring this legislation up at any time if they wanted to.

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BRET BAIER, "SPECIAL REPORT" HOST: The president with his first major speech on immigration reform, a speech largely devoid of specifics about guest worker programs, work visas, and other specifics that would have to be in a piece of legislation.

What about all of this and the debate ongoing? Let's bring in our panel, Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, Juan Williams, news analyst for National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Bill?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: The president said before it's been held hostage to political wrangling and partisan posturing. There is no such thing. He's the president and he does have majorities in Congress. This is the first major speech he has given on immigration 18 months into his administration.

He promised to introduce legislation in the first year of this two-year congressional session and there is still no legislation and no specifics in this speech. So it is a political speech, not a legislative speech. Nobody expects there to be immigration legislation this year.

The reason for the speech, the Gallup poll did an interesting breakdown. If you look at President Obama's approval rating at the beginning of the year and the end of last month, beginning of June, 2010, among African-American he has been absolutely steady 91 percent approval and 91 percent approval. Among white Americans he's been steady -- 41 percent approval, 41 percent approval.

His drop came last year. Among Hispanic-Americans this year he has dropped from 69 percent approval to 57 percent approval. He promised improvement on immigration. A lot of Hispanic-Americans care an awful lot about that. There was no movement, and he's trying to buck up his support and the Democratic Party's support among Hispanics.

BAIER: Juan, Bill says the legislation is not going anywhere and everybody in this town knows that. Even the president said on Air Force One a few months ago this about the prospects. Take a listen.

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OBAMA: It's a matter of political will. We have gone through a very tough year and I have been working Congress pretty hard. So I know there may not be an appetite immediately to dive into another controversial issue. There is still work that has to be done on energy. Midterms are coming up.

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BAIER: He knows there is not an appetite, yet he delivers the speech today.

JUAN WILLIAMS, NEWS ANALYST, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: I thought Bill Kristol's analysis was on target. If you look at the numbers, the Hispanic community is very upset with this president, the president that they back in the election over a man they knew better, John McCain, and they trusted in the idea of his campaign pledge, that he would act on immigration in his first year in office.

Obviously he didn't do it. He appointed Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. A lot of people thought it would win Hispanic affection and some time for the president, and it has not as you just heard in terms of those numbers.

But I think the speech was on target to this extent -- the Republicans are not willing to work with the president on this issue at all. They didn't work with President Bush. I think that is why the issue got stuck back in 2006 when President Bush tried to do it. I think there is intransigence on this issue and a lot of rabble rousing about it.

It's interesting, you can listen to Rupert Murdoch and Michael Bloomberg, and they say we need some kind of immigration reform in this country, and why can't we get it. It's because at some point it becomes a matter of angry finger pointing and nobody wants to admit what people like Chris Christie and Rick Perry, who say we need to deal with this. If you call it amnesty, my gosh, forget about it.

BAIER: Juan, it seems the president doesn't want to admit he has a problem within his own party in this. It's always about the Republicans blocking the legislation and not challenges within his own Democratic caucus.

WILLIAMS: He definitely has a problem with conservative Democrats on the issue.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The problem is his party controls the House and Senate. If they wanted a bill it could be on the floor tomorrow. The president wants to blame Republicans because it's all about politics. This is nothing about legislation.

It's typical Obama-style to deliver a speech that even in The New York Times in a news story tomorrow on this speech will say, because it's already online, saying the speech is more about the politics than the legislation. That isn't exactly a right wing source.

It's obviously a political attempt to appeal to the base to the election where the party will be in trouble and he needs the base. He is not serious, and yet he attacks the other side for posturing.

On the substance of this, he says for example we don't want the Arizona law because we don't want a patchwork of laws to be the national standard. We have a national standard. It's the existing law, which he isn't enforcing.

And what he is doing is exactly what Kyl said Obama said to him. Whether or not he said it isn't important. The fact is that the Democrats are holding enforcement hostage in order to get a bargain on amnesty and that is against their constitutional duties. They should enforce the border.

Obama said a fence won't solve the whole problem. Nobody pretends it will. It won't solve the problem of the 11 million already here. But it will solve the problem of new immigrants from the south. If you solve that, you would get a national consensus on a humane offer of amnesty and legalization.

BAIER: This comes as the administration, Bill, is of course, getting ready to sue Arizona over its immigration law. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is speaking out about that and she will be on the Greta Van Susteren show "On the Record" again tonight. What about the ground truth of what is happening along the border? Take a listen to this dichotomy.

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OBAMA: Contrary to some of the reports that you see, crime along the border is down. The southern border is more secure today than at any time in the past 20 years.

KYL: Certain kinds of violence is down. If you talk about the home invasions, for example, the burglaries and some assaults and so on, they are way, way up. Phoenix is kidnapping capital of the United States, second only in the world to Mexico City.

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BAIER: So why the difference? In making a speech you make your points, but it seems like the statistics are just different.

KRISTOL: You can cut them different ways. If you look at the border, crime is down but then it migrated up to Phoenix. It's a big country and Arizona should make its judgment about what it needs for law enforcement. Virginia where I live should make its judgment.

The people on the left who said the Arizona law will trigger every other state to do something equally draconian. It's not that draconian. That wasn't true. Citizens in other states had their own judgments and others said we don't need something like Arizona. Arizonans around the border, Jon Kyl is from there, made a different judgment. I don't know why the president is second-guessing every state's law.

WILLIAMS: Let me quickly say that, in fact, what the president said, those numbers are true. That, in fact, this border is more secure. There is 80 percent drop in terms of illegal crossing since 2000.

BAIER: Are Arizonans along the border imagining the threat here?

WILLIAMS: No. But I think there is so much anger over the magnitude of illegal -- the number of illegal immigrants in the country that it has become a trigger point.

BAIER: Log on to our homepage at Foxnews.com/specialreport and tell us what you think the panel should talk about in tomorrow's Friday lightning round.

Up next, Bill Clinton versus Barack Obama.

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ANDREW ROMANOFF, D-COLO., U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: What it means is the folks picking the nominee will have more information about my record of legislative leadership and power of full show support from president that most Americans admire very much, Bill Clinton.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: President Clinton has relationships that extend a long time back, and will make endorsements for a whole host of reasons, including that. I was asked if we heard from them prior to the endorsement, and the answer is no.

QUESTION: Would you like to have had it?

GIBBS: Before you guys, sure.

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BAIER: Yes, sure.

President Obama and the administration endorsing the incumbent Democratic senator in Colorado, Michael Bennett, who is facing a stiff challenge from Andrew Romanoff, the former Colorado state speaker of the house in the August 10 Democratic primary out there.

What is with this, former president Bill Clinton endorsing Romanoff? We're back with the panel. Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: We have stirrings here of dynastic rivalry of not quite Shakespearean proportions, but it will get there. The rivalry between Clinton and Obama is old and well known. I think Bill himself was really wounded by the one statement that Obama made in 2008 where he said Reagan was the president of historic consequence and Clinton was not. It enraged Clinton. I don't think he forgets easily.

Secondly, we have a tradition here where for ex-presidents we get nostalgic and they become popular in time. Look at the elder Bush. Even though he lost the reelection he became extremely popular afterwards. Bill, himself, is extremely popular. And his wife, secretary of state, and has done nothing of consequence as secretary of state, is therefore quite popular and Obama has done unpopular stuff.

I think this is not a challenge, not a conspiracy, not a declaration of war. It's I think the Clintons putting up a flag in the corner of the field as a way of saying we have been here, we're still here. If you need us, we're ready -- we're tan, rested, and ready for the future.

BAIER: Juan, adding to this, the White House, of course, offered something to Andrew Romanoff to get him to step out of the primary in Colorado. There were a lot of stories about that. Here comes the former president saying I am going to endorse that guy.

WILLIAMS: And I think from the White House perspective, they couldn't have done much to assure that Bennett was going to win, because they don't think that President Obama is all that popular in Colorado.

And if you look at the record where the races he intervened, primary races, Pennsylvania with Sestak and Specter, you know what, the president -- you can look at New Jersey. President Obama's campaign trail is not very good.

So President Clinton seems to have greater clout in a place like Colorado, and the White House feels like, OK. The question becomes who are Democrats responding to, and whether or not someone like Romanoff would, in fact, be loyal to Clinton or Obama?

BAIER: It was interesting, Bill, to see the White House come out and say no, we didn't get a heads up.

KRISTOL: It's pretty startling. I was trying to run my mind back. Has it happened in modern history, preceding president of the same party endorsing someone in the primary running against the person the current president of the party endorsed?

Clinton has campaigned for Democrats and Democrats that President Obama was in favor of in the primary. But it's like Reagan going to a primary in 1990 against a person afforded by President H.W. Bush or Carter going into a primary against someone that Clinton is supporting. It's pretty astounding trouble-making by Bill Clinton.

He had a good week, though. In South Africa when he was watching the World Cup he said he thought maybe they should blow up the oil well under the sea, the BP oil well. Of course, he supports President Obama and doing a good job, but he didn't understand why they didn't explore this possibility more. So I think that Clinton is enjoying making trouble.

BAIER: Do you agree?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think -- I would never underestimate the ambition and the sense of entitlement of the Clintons. Look, Obama, if he continues to sink in popularity, and if he is in trouble next year, and they have the polls and Hillary against the Republican, Obama against the Republican, she will be ahead by 15 points, and they'll start thinking.