Gen. Clark: Presidents can't protect Americans everywhere

Retired General responds to Libya attack response by the Obama administration


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 22, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: Continuing now with the "Impact Segment", the foreign policy debate tonight and how the candidate should handle Libya. Joining us now from Boca Raton, Florida the former NATO supreme allied commander General Wesley Clark who is now the national security adviser to the Obama campaign.

Have you -- have they asked you for advice on Libya and how to handle it, General?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Bill I think the simple answer on Libya is this. No president has ever been able to prevent bad things from happening somewhere around the world to Americans. Ronald Reagan lost 280 Marines when a Marine barracks in Beirut were bombed. George H. Bush stood by while Kuwait was invaded by Saddam Hussein. George W. Bush had 9/11 happen on his watch. Bad things happen to our country even when a good guy is president.

O'REILLY: All right. But I don't know if that's in play though.

WESLEY: So that's the first thing ok, now just a second.

O'REILLY: Well, wait, wait, General. Wait General.

CLARK: Let me finish my point.

O'REILLY: Wait a minute.

CLARK: The question is not -- the question is not did something bad happen. The question is what does the commander-in-chief do about it? Let me tell you what Barack Obama has done about this.

Number one he immediately strengthened diplomatic security everywhere that our embassies should possibly be in danger. Number two, he reinforced with military to back up the diplomatic security. Number three he called the heads of state of these countries and emphasized their responsibility. Number four, he put in motion a plan to go get the guys that did this and bring them to justice.

O'REILLY: All right but anybody would have done that.

CLARK: Number five, he's put in place in -- no, no, not anybody would have done that.

O'REILLY: James -- James Buchanan would have done that.

CLARK: He did it. He did it and a good leader did it. What you're talking about Bill -- just a minute.

O'REILLY: All right, any -- anybody would have done what you've said, just wait a minute. General calm down.

CLARK: You are talking about something the fluff Bill. I'm plenty calm.

O'REILLY: General -- General calm.

CLARK: You are not letting me finish my point.

O'REILLY: That's because your point is too long. This isn't a telethon. You have to abide by the same rules that everybody else abides by.

CLARK: You ask me. I told you.

O'REILLY: Here is the crux of the matter. It's not about protecting Americans. You are right. It's impossible to do that all over the world. And it's not about reaction after. It's about an explanation straightforward about what happens. The President has not given it in a month and a half. Would you advise the President to do it tonight when he has an opportunity to tell the American people exactly what happened?

CLARK: Bill, I think the President ought to go through the process and find out what happened. Let me give you an example. After 9/11, the Democrats pulled together with Republicans. They did not take or attempt to take partisan political advantage over one of the greatest disasters ever to befall the United States. They could have.

After all, a Republican was the commander-in-chief. He was on vacation. During the time -- he didn't read but none of that came out during the time.

O'REILLY: Democrats, they let him have it of course reaction in Tampa. You know they did.

CLARK: Democrats didn't go after partisan political advantage.

O'REILLY: Whoa, wait a minute General. You're reviving history.

CLARK: No, I'm not.

O'REILLY: You remember when the President was in the classroom in Florida when he got the word from Andrew Card and didn't immediately, he kept reading. He got hammered by the left. You remember that. So come on. No spin zone here tonight.

CLARK: He gave a statement. He gave a statement, a joint statement to Congress and Democrats and Republicans fully supported him. And the investigation to find out what happened took four years -- four years, Bill.

O'REILLY: Well, don't you think we should have a progress report on why there was so much misinformation coming from the White House and the U.N. ambassador? Don't you that is worthy?

CLARK: Maybe there should be but you know that's not --

O'REILLY: Maybe there should be?

CLARK: Yes because Bill --

O'REILLY: We live in a free society. I think there has to be.

CLARK: You think Libya is the key issue in this election?

O'REILLY: I think it is. Look, it's hurting your guy.

CLARK: You'd like -- you might like it to be the key issue.

O'REILLY: No, don't care about it one way or the other. I wish it never happened.

CLARK: I think you want it to be the key issue.

O'REILLY: No, that's bull.

CLARK: Let me tell you something.

O'REILLY: I wanted to know what happened. That is what I want.

CLARK: What I want is I want the American people to look at the big picture and make a wise decision on who could be the best commander in chief.

O'RILLY: Don't you think this Libya issue is hurting your guy?

CLARK: Your premise -- I'm not talking about horse race, I'm talking about what is good for America.

O'REILLY: Ok. But we have got to get to the debate. You are an advisor -- foreign policy advisor. Don't you see that this is hurting your guy the way it's being handled?

CLARK: I think that President Obama has done a great job as commander in chief. And I think when you lay it in the right frame, the American people see it, too. Look, Bill, if you go back and look at the big picture, getting out of Iraq, taking Osama bin Laden, having a plan for Afghanistan, rebuilding our alliance and compare it to what President Obama faced with when he came into office.

And Mitt Romney hasn't given us a single plan, not on Iraq, not on Afghanistan, not on terrorism. Instead, he has tried to take political partisan advantage or something that should have been used to bring the country together. I think that's a really sad response.

O'REILLY: All right. General. We appreciate your point of view. Thank you.

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