OTR Interviews

In Obama, we don't trust: Scandals begin taking their toll

Scandals take toll on Commander-in-Chief as trust and honesty rating dips to record low in new poll


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 17, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: As scandal rocks many in Washington, the Oval Office is dealing with a landslide, many fingers pointing directly at the president, more Americans now questioning whether President Obama is an honest and trustworthy leader. An new Fox News poll shows half of Americans have doubts, 48 percent say, no, President Obama's not honest and trustworthy, while 48 percent say they still have faith in the president.

That's down, of course, from last month, when 49 percent of people found the president honest. But just one year ago, 51 percent of the country said he was honest! And in April 2009, just after taking office, 73 percent said the president was honest and trustworthy.

Congressman Allen West is here. Nice to see you, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: So is the decline in the president's trustworthy and honest number -- is that just sort of part of being a second term president, or is the president earning this decline?

WEST: No, I think he is really earning this decline because when you look at all of these things that are mounting upon the president -- talk about Benghazi. I mean, someone has to come out and say, Why was Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, which is a hotbed of radical Islamism. What was the president's impact as far as the decision that he should have been making. We had an ambassador come under attack, to you know, who was the person that sent Susan Rice out there to, you know, really tell a lie and deceive the American people, and why did he continue to tell that lie for about two weeks after on Univision and also at the United Nations?

The IRS scandal is something very huge and that is something that's personal to a lot of people. And you just don't see the president getting in front of this. You don't see the president really talking about the climate that is happening across his administration. But what do you see? You see people getting promoted. You see people, you know, going off on, you know, on taxpayer-paid vacations. So this feigned, you know, indignation is really starting to wear thin.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why does he -- why do you think he -- maybe he doesn't care. But why should he care? He's not going to run again. And the line that was so famous from early on, when he was first elected in 2009, was something to -- I think it was to Senator McCain or somebody saying, I won. You know, why should -- why should he care? I mean, there's -- you know, is it just popularity or, I mean --

WEST: Well --

VAN SUSTEREN: -- or is it that he can't get his agenda passed?

WEST: You're the president of the United States of America. That's an incredible responsibility. And --

VAN SUSTEREN: So personal pride in -- is that what you're saying?

WEST: Well, it -- not personal pride. It should be the country's pride. It should be the exceptionalism of this country. You know, that'd be just the same as if I'm a commander of a battalion, I see my battalion going into the ground and really falling apart and not being able to meet its missions but I'm not caring about it.

You're the leader. You're the one that said, you know, Here I am to lead this great nation. And if you don't own up to those responsibilities, if you don't hold yourself accountable to the American people first and foremost, then you're going to see this type of slide.

VAN SUSTEREN: Does he show he cares?

WEST: I don't think he does show that he cares. I mean, let's talk about, you know, just last week, when you had this announcement that we're going to supplying arms to the rebels in Syria. You had the deputy come out and make that statement, not the president. So I think that he has to be able to show that he cares.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think that maybe he doesn't get it? It's rather surprising. I mean, something so important of arming rebels, maybe (INAUDIBLE) could be a slippery slope (INAUDIBLE) move on . Maybe sometime, we're going to be more engaged in what's going on, Syria, maybe yes, maybe no. But he is the Commander-in-Chief.

WEST: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: And it's stunning to most people that something so important as arming someone to overthrow another government, you would think would be a decision -- or would be something that the president of the United States would speak to the American people about.

WEST: You would think so and because you're talking about committing our resources and committing our forces. Look, understand that 30 years ago, we had a horrific event when we put U.S. military forces in a civil war in that area. That was in Lebanon with the Beirut bombing. We lost 238 Marines.

This is not something that we should take lightly. And what was interesting, when you watched today with the G-8 summit, you could see the disdain on Vladimir Putin's face. You know, and it's not just the credibility and the trustworthiness that the president has here but it's also on the international arena.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I should say, though, that Vladimir Putin -- it is -- it is Russia. He is ex-KGB. And he is -- and he is against us or at least against what many people want to do in Syria, so you know, it's not surprised that he would have some disdain directed at the president of the United States.

WEST: Yes, but the thing is also, I remember when there was a certain president that stood at the Brandenburg gates and told a Russian Soviet Union leader to tear down this wall. And eventually, the wall came down.

So we're looking for that type of resolve, that type of resiliency, that type of moral courage and forthrightness in our president. And we're not seeing it at home. We're not seeing it on the international arena. And I think that's starting to really come to roost.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think he knows that?

WEST: I think that the president is surrounded by people that tell him that he's doing great. I think that he has been surrounded by media that continues to protect him and tells him that he's doing great. But now the show is kind of up, and the man behind the curtain is kind of being exposed.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think about the fact that -- I mean, I'm -- I actually blogged tonight on Gretawire that he's speaking to the German people at the Brandenburg gate, and I think -- you know, I'm glad the German people get to hear from our president. But we ought to hear from him on both Syria, which I just mentioned --

WEST: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: -- as well as the NSA, to explain to us, you know, that -- that -- that thing, like, trust us, you know, I'm -- we're doing the right thing is not resonating with most American people. They don't trust the government on this NSA thing.

WEST: No. You cannot have any more drive-by, you know, trite comments and statements. You cannot really have any more, you know, teleprompter speeches. We need to have a window into the president, into his heart and talk to us as the American people.

And I think you see his approval ratings down at 44 percent. By the time he comes back from this Africa vacation, it could be down to 41 or 42 percent.

VAN SUSTEREN: Of course, Congress is down at 10 percent.

WEST: Well, Congress --

VAN SUSTEREN: Congress is down about -- Congress at the point where almost it can't get any lower.

WEST: Well, absolutely. But when you look at the aggregate, you see a failure in Washington, D.C. You know, our debt continues to grow, the deficits. Maybe you're reducing somewhat, but still, our debt to GDP ratio is still bad. Our economy is not turning around, either.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, always nice to see you, sir. Thank you.

WEST: Thank you, Greta.