Interviews

Exclusive: Dan Quayle on Obama's handling of recent scandals

Former vice president on 'Your World'

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," May 30, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: The Associated Press now just the latest to send its regrets over a meeting that seems to be getting smaller and smaller by the hour.

Quoting here from the AP, "If it is not on the record, AP will not attend and instead will offer our views on how the regulations should be updated in an open letter."

So, the AP joins Fox, The New York Times, CBS, Huffington Post and CNN as committed no-shows. Highlights for children, though, will be there. I'm kidding.

But here's where this thing starts getting really weird and scary, this very terse tweet -- and this is real -- from a DNC spokesperson, "POTUS asked AG to review how leak investigation are done, but some in the media refuse to meet with him. Kind of forfeits your right to gripe."

Whoa. Is it me or does that sound a whole lot like another threat? We're keeping track and we're keeping score.

To the former Vice President of these United States Dan Quayle in a Fox exclusive on an agency and a department, maybe a whole White House that can't get out of its own way.

Wow. That sounds like Tony Soprano there, that e-mail.

DAN QUAYLE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: That's not a good program when you invite people to an off-the-record briefing or to anything...

CAVUTO: And no one comes.

QUAYLE: ... and no one shows, and they talk about it.

CAVUTO: Yes.

QUAYLE: Now, if they just didn't say anything about it...

CAVUTO: They should just shut up. You're right.

QUAYLE: ... then it would have been fine. But now that they're talking about it -- look, when you go do something like that, I would have thought that his press person might have vetted this and said, will you guys be willing to come? And so I don't know. They're sort of -- they're a little bit in the category of, they will do what we tell them.

In this case, they didn't. And it wasn't just Fox.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: No.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: I know.

QUAYLE: I can see Fox doing this, which is the right thing, but the other guys sort of...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Yes. Well, because it gets back the -- they might have very smart folks at Justice and everything else, big on I.Q., low on E.Q., I think, because this gets back to why reporters are upset in the first place, the secretiveness, the off-the-record, behind-the-scenes, maybe outright illegal activities that are going on.

And you don't want to do anything that would foster that impression all over again, right?

QUAYLE: Yes.

The original act of trying to find the leak, I actually was supportive of that. We did it ourselves.

CAVUTO: Right.

QUAYLE: We tried -- we had these leaks, we tried to find out who did it.

But what they did, they did it sort of backwards, because instead of going after the reporters, they know in the department who is probably leaking. You can tell by the story, the sources. At least, you have an idea. Go after the government employees who they think are leaking, which will obviously lead you to the press.

CAVUTO: Lead you to...

QUAYLE: But you start with that.

But going and trying to find the leaker of these a very -- a couple of very, very sensitive situations, and I was stunned when it came out. I said, wow, this is really -- this is bad news.

But now they -- it's interesting, because people like myself that are taking national security very seriously, I don't mind trying to find out who the leakers are. It seems to me the people on the far left, they don't really care who the leakers are. They just want that information out.

There are certain secrets that need to be held.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Understood, but you have to be fair and balanced about the leaks, right?

You're perfectly fine, it would seem -- not you, sir -- but the administration with leaks that make you look good, like what was happening behind the scenes to capture Usama bin Laden. But leaks that might not make you look as good, maybe not so enthusiastic.

QUAYLE: No, no, look, leaking goes on all the time.

CAVUTO: Right.

QUAYLE: But leaking of sensitive classified national security, national interest material is just wrong. And, as a matter of fact, it's illegal in many cases. That's what the whole Valerie Plame was about.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Well, how bad do you think this gets? Because when you connect the dots, Vice President, between what happened here with chasing reporters, including our James Rosen, targeting conservative groups at the IRS, something, by the way, that was going on as recently as a couple of weeks ago. So, it's like one hand doesn't know what the other is doing and there are a lot of hands in a lot of pots where they shouldn't be.

QUAYLE: Yes, you have got to -- you sort of have to separate these out, as you have done on your show, the three so-called scandals.

I put the AP one way down there, quite frankly. The Benghazi, I think is a serious story and one that -- I know that you guys have been energized on, because it really does come to manipulating intelligence and trying to mislead the American people. There's no doubt about that.

And where -- the way this works is when you have a conflict between state, intelligence -- we didn't have Homeland Security when I was there -- you got Homeland Security. You got the National Intelligence Agency. It all gets resolved where? In the National Security Council. That's the White House, and that's where this got resolved, in the White House.

But they have been very successful in buttoning down, and so we really don't know. I think that is a huge, huge problem.

CAVUTO: No doubt, but you know what I would -- and you have worked obviously at these levels, so you know this better than I.

But the president came into all of this, came into office very hands-on, very detail-oriented. When all this is blowing up -- and it might be perfectly sound to make this argument because it might be perfectly true -- he didn't know about any of this. He didn't know about this.

So, basically, ignorance will be his defense. And maybe government has got so unwieldy, Vice President, that's the way it is and who can blame him for being out of the loop. But out of the loop on all of this, it raises an issue, does his very aloofness promote this sort of thing?

QUAYLE: You're not out of loop on Benghazi. An American ambassador and three other Americans were killed. You know what is going on. And you know what your spokespeople are going to say that weekend.

CAVUTO: So, you wouldn't have gone to Las Vegas the next day?

QUAYLE: No, but he knew what they were going to say. I'm very confident of that, because we knew what our -- particularly when you put one person on all five programs, you know what they're going to say. They have specific talking points from the White House. We did it. Everybody does it. That's the way it works.

CAVUTO: Right.

QUAYLE: But the whole IRS thing, that's...

CAVUTO: Is that wrong, by the way, coordinating those talking points, regardless of what they ultimately end up being?

QUAYLE: No. That's what you're supposed to do.

CAVUTO: Right. Right.

QUAYLE: And that's why the White House in debates with the Congress or anyone, they usually win out, because they can coordinate this and they have one spokesman or the spokespeople that are out there. They sing off the same song sheet.

In Congress, you got all sorts of people. You got Republicans saying different things, Democrats saying different things. And that's why the White House, a disciplined White House always wins that public relations battle because they can coordinate it.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Do you think that -- the attack against Republicans is that they're going for the jugular here, thinking they have the moment, and they're looking, to some Democrats as a bit opportunistic and there's no there there yet.

QUAYLE: Well, let's see on this IRS thing.

CAVUTO: You think that's the one, the most telling?

QUAYLE: I really do. I think that we will find out more and more as time goes on.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: You say more and more, that higher-ups were involved?

QUAYLE: Well, look, you know the whole Washington scandal. It's not the act itself. It's the cover-up. And, believe me, everybody is trying to cover their tracks right now, "Oh, I didn't have anything to do with this." I didn't suggest somebody be targeted.

But, actually, if you just go back and listen to some of President Obama's speeches during the campaign, he was targeting individuals, he was targeting Tea Party right-wing groups who are out to destroy...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: So, you think he can provide an atmosphere that does that?

QUAYLE: These people are sitting there listening to the president of the United States and they're saying, "Well, if he is going after these people, well, maybe we ought take a look because"...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: So, he doesn't have to say anything or do anything or call any orders; he's providing the venue?

QUAYLE: Yes, but go back and look. Roll some of the tape on this.

He was basically suggesting that there could possibly be illegal acts on the tax side, and people saying that they're forming this 501(c)(4), but they really were in politics and not-for-profit. He was making all these suggestions. So, I think that we have not seen everything.

And watch this, Neil. This is the way this thing plays out. When the heat really gets hot and they realize that this is a more serious story, because a lot of the media just wants to ignore it. OK, fine. They don't like -- the media, they don't like the Tea Party groups and the patriot groups and they don't like rich conservatives. Rich liberals, they are OK, but not rich conservatives.

So, they would just as soon in a way have this story go away, if they can. But once the White House realizes how serious this could be and they appoint a special prosecutor...

CAVUTO: So, you think that's inevitable?

QUAYLE: I don't think it's inevitable. I think it's certainly a possibility. I don't know enough to be able to say what is a probability. But the special prosecutor also gives the White House some breathing room, because it shuts everything down.

CAVUTO: He or she could go a witch-hunt and -- right?

QUAYLE: Well, that's -- you don't want these things. It's sort of last resort.

But when you get to sort of the last resort, that's what you go to, because it does -- it shuts it down, and then you don't know. Maybe a year, two years, three years, who knows, they may find something, they may not find something.

CAVUTO: If you look at the stock market, Mr. Vice President, and see what it's been doing, it's been steadily rising. The economic numbers, while they're not off to the races, they're really well off the map.

So, that is good. So, this might be the wind at the president's back. This might stave off the kind of corrosive atmosphere we had during Watergate, not that -- Richard Nixon still probably would have had to resign, but it didn't help that we had inflation and a recession and then later stagflation and then an economy going in the tank. That part is not happening here.

QUAYLE: Well, I don't -- everything, people like to compare it to Watergate. We will have to wait and see where this goes and how big it is.

CAVUTO: Do you think it could be?

QUAYLE: I think it's bigger than what we know today. I think there's a lot more information to come out. I really do. And it seems to be coming out drip by drip by drip, which you don't want...

CAVUTO: Right.

QUAYLE: ... because once some -- a problem happens, what you want to do is to get everybody together that has pertinent information, get together, and get it all out, even...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Well, do you think Eric Holder should resign? Do you think the attorney general should resign?

QUAYLE: That's up to him. I'm not getting into that. He's got a lot of problems. He has got a credibility problem. He's got problems with the media, obviously, which were his friends. Now they're not so sure about that.

CAVUTO: What do you think is happening with the media and this administration, when they opt out of going to an off-the-record briefing?

QUAYLE: I think that they probably assumed that he was going to, one, tell them things that should be on the record, but he wanted it off the record.

As you well know, reporters, particularly print reporters, will go in and they want it on the record, but if you say, let me go off the record and they will say, OK, and they honor -- they have to know when it goes on the record.

CAVUTO: Right.

QUAYLE: So you're on the record, off the record. He wanted...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: And you have to keep prefacing it. Right?

QUAYLE: He wanted it just off the record.

CAVUTO: Yes.

QUAYLE: And I think that they saw that they were being used. He was saying, I got a little problem with the press here. I got to call them in on an off-the-record basis.

CAVUTO: Right.

QUAYLE: I don't want them -- to let them ask me anything. I will tell them anything, but I don't want to be reported. And these are all my friends, so they will come to the tea party. And...

CAVUTO: Right. But they all have egos. They all have egos.

(CROSSTALK)

QUAYLE: The one thing that he -- that the press, media, whether it's the conservative, liberal, whatever, they don't like to feel that they're being used.

And I think in this particular case, they felt they were being used.

CAVUTO: The Republican Party right now seems to have found its sea legs, maybe in large part to these scandals, in large part to because they survived the sequestration cuts and everything thought there would be financial hell to pay. And, as you know, we have merrily moved on and the cuts were not at all damaging.

So the Republicans are feeling their oats here. Of the presidential prospects that you see, who is moving front and center to you? Who is impressing you early on?

QUAYLE: Well, if you sort of take, which we normally do, the Obama precedent, the Obama precedent, getting elected president is -- spend a couple years in the Senate and run for president and get elected.

CAVUTO: Right.

(LAUGHTER)

QUAYLE: So, therefore, you got to look at the rookies in the Senate that just came there.

CAVUTO: Right.

QUAYLE: And you got Rubio, you got Cruz, you got Paul, three...

CAVUTO: Any three of them impress you? They all do?

QUAYLE: No, they're very articulate, they're smart, they're well-meaning. They're all good folks.

CAVUTO: They're also china shop shakers, right? They rattle cages.

(CROSSTALK)

QUAYLE: But -- no, no, but that -- so that's the Obama precedent and everything.

But my guess is there's a lot of people out...

CAVUTO: What about Chris Christie?

QUAYLE: I think he will -- I presume he will run.

CAVUTO: Some say as an independent, because he wouldn't be welcomed...

(CROSSTALK)

QUAYLE: Well, no, I don't think -- he will run as a Republican.

CAVUTO: You do?

QUAYLE: Yes, he won't run as an independent. I know -- I know him, not well, but I know him well enough.

CAVUTO: Why don't you think he would?

QUAYLE: No, he's not going to run as independent.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: If the Republican Party doesn't invite him...

(CROSSTALK)

QUAYLE: No. First of all, he knows it's an exercise in futility to run as an independent. If you want to be president, you run as a Republican or Democrat. It's a two-party system. He's not going to waste his time running as...

CAVUTO: Seem to remember that Ross Perot fellow...

(CROSSTALK)

QUAYLE: Well, he got 19 percent of the vote, and I'm sitting here as a former...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Had he not been in that race, maybe...

QUAYLE: Exactly. Who knows where I -- who knows where I would have been.

CAVUTO: Right.

QUAYLE: No, you can be damaging, but that is not Christie's mentality.

CAVUTO: But you think he's going to run for president regardless?

QUAYLE: I'm just assuming that he will. I think the big question...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Because his message would be, if he stacks up a big re-election win, look, Republicans. Whatever your problems with me, I won in the bluest of states by a landslide. Right?

QUAYLE: It's a good argument.

CAVUTO: Yes.

QUAYLE: I think that the big question in the Republican Party, and it's similar in the Democrat Party, what's Jeb Bush going to do? And I think that is a big question.

CAVUTO: Now, you worked for a Bush, Bush Sr., as the vice president of the United States, and of course the last President Bush.

The argument against Jeb Bush has always been Bush fatigue. Do you buy that?

QUAYLE: I understand that. Not really. But I understand it. But I think that when you get out, they're going to look -- if he runs, they are going to look at him.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Well, how about you?

QUAYLE: I'm happy where I am. I think I will look at the field and help those guys out.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: You're not going to run? You're saying you're not going to run?

QUAYLE: I'm not even -- I'm not thinking about it.

CAVUTO: You're not thinking about it or you're...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

QUAYLE: I'm not thinking about it. So that means...

CAVUTO: I got you thinking about it.

QUAYLE: No -- well, after you asked the question.

(CROSSTALK)

QUAYLE: Let me just say, though, we have got the Jeb Bush question on our side, and they got the Hillary Clinton question on the Democrat side. So, Clinton, Bush, that would be fun.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: You never know. Could be a repeat...

(CROSSTALK)

QUAYLE: You know, what the conventional wisdom is this far out, when you think it's going to be a Clinton and Bush, it won't be either one of them.

CAVUTO: Absolutely. Absolutely.

QUAYLE: So, who knows.

CAVUTO: Dan Quayle, it's always a pleasure. Thank you very, very much.

QUAYLE: Thank you.

CAVUTO: Tough to get you here in the flesh. It's like booking the pope.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Dan Quayle.

QUAYLE: Happy to be here.

Content and Programming Copyright 2013 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2013 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.