Sen. Ted Cruz talks defunding ObamaCare; Will Assad meet deadline for getting rid of chemical weapons?

Key Republican lawmaker on 'Fox News Sunday'


This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," September 22, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace.

The House passes a budget bill but ties it to defunding ObamaCare, putting the government on course to shut down in just eight days.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OH, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Our message to the United States Senate is real simple: the American people don't want the government shut down and they don't want ObamaCare.

SEN. HARRY REID, D-NV, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: The bill that defunds ObamaCare is dead, dead.

WALLACE: And right at the center of the debate, Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who is threatening a filibuster.

SEN. TED CRUZ , R - TX: I will do everything necessary and anything possible to defund ObamaCare.

WALLACE: Senator Cruz joins us live. It's a "Fox News Sunday" exclusive.

And, Syria submits an inventory of its chemical weapons program. Secretary of State Kerry calls on the U.N. to act.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: This fight about Syria's chemical weapons is not a game. It's real, it's important.

WALLACE: We'll discuss what happens next with former weapons inspector Charles Duelfer.

Plus, 12 people gunned down at Washington's Navy Yard. Now, lawmakers are calling for more aggressive background checks. We'll talk with Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill who is leading the charge.

And our power player of the week, Ivanka Trump, carving out her own niche in the family empire.

IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: I represent the feminine voice of an otherwise more masculine brand.

WALLACE: All right now on "Fox News Sunday."


WALLACE: And hello, again, from Fox News Washington.

Well, the clock is ticking. The government shuts down in just eight days unless Congress agrees on a bill to fund federal agencies. On Friday, the House passed a measure to keep the government going until mid-December but they also cut off funding for ObamaCare, and as you just heard, Majority Leader Harry Reid says that is dead in the Senate.

Joining me now from Houston, Senator Ted Cruz, who is leading the drive for this confrontation.

Senator, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."

CRUZ: Thank you, Chris. It's great to be with you this morning.

WALLACE: You say and we just played a clip of it. We'll do whatever you can, including a talking filibuster, to block consideration of the bill that the House just passed. The problem is that you would be blocking a bill which you actually support, which would fund the government but defund ObamaCare. So, how are you going to get other Republican senators on board to block a bill that you support?

CRUZ: Well, let's be clear. Last week's vote was a tremendous victory. Just a few weeks ago, no pundit in Washington thought it was possible we would see the vote we saw on Friday. Last week, the House of Representatives voted to defund ObamaCare, and now, next week, as you know, the fight moves to the Senate.

And I think next week is a time for party unity. I think next week, all Senate Republicans, I hope, should come together and support the House bill.

In my view, Senate Republicans should stand united to stop Harry Reid from changing the House bill and, in particular, from inserting the funding from ObamaCare with 51 votes. That's going to be the fight procedurally whether he's able to use a straight party line vote, just Democrats, to put ObamaCare back.

And you know what? If Senate Republicans stand together, we can stop Harry Reid from doing it.

WALLACE: Well, I'm confused. Are you going to block consideration of the bill? Basically, the first issue is, are you going to allow consideration of the bill? And you can filibuster that after -- if you lose that, then a simple majority could take out ObamaCare. So, are you going to allow consideration of the bill, have an up-or-down vote on defunding ObamaCare, or are you going to block them from even taking a bill which you support?

CRUZ: Well, the first order of business is going to be to ask Harry Reid if he will agree to allow amendments to be subject to a 60- vote threshold. And that's typical in the Senate. We have a lot of amendments that are subject to 60-vote threshold.

Now, in all likelihood, he's going to say no because he wants to use brute political power to force ObamaCare funding through with just Democrats, exactly the same he passed the bill three years ago.

Now, if he does that even, then Senate Republicans have the tool that we always used when the majority leader is abusing his power, which is we can die cloture. We can filibuster and say we will not allow you to add the funding back for ObamaCare with just 51 votes and it takes --

WALLACE: Sir, if I may, you say this is brute political power. Other times, you said it's a procedural gimmick. It's Senate Rule 22, which has been around for years. It's part of the Senate rules and it says after you end -- you allow debate, after you take cloture, that you can pass an amendment by a simple majority. That's the rule.

CRUZ: Chris, what's good for the goose, it's good for the gander. You're right, that is one rule. But there is another rule that says it takes 60 votes to get cloture. And that's the reason the Senate, generally, on controversial votes, we work out an agreement for it to be subject to a 60 vote threshold because the majority -- if the majority is going to run the minority over with a train, the minority has the ability to stop them.

And so, if Harry Reid says, you know what, I'm going to run the Republicans over. I'm going to ignore the bill passed by the House of Representatives, I'm going to ignore the will of the people and I'm going to do this on a 51-vote threshold -- then, from my mind, it should be easy decision for Senate Republicans to stand united and to support House Republicans.

And I'll tell you, any vote for cloture, any vote to allow Harry Reid to add funding for ObamaCare with just a 51-vote threshold, a vote for cloture is a vote for ObamaCare. And I think Senate Republicans are going to stand side by side with Speaker Boehner and House Republicans listening to the people and stopping this train wreck that is ObamaCare.

WALLACE: OK. A couple of quick questions. First of all, you need 41 votes. You're one vote. You need 40 other Republican senators to go with you to block consideration of the House bill in the Senate. How many do you have right now, Senator?

CRUZ: Well, we don't know right now and this week, we'll determine that. Look, this has been a fast moving target. You know, just a few weeks ago, we didn't have any of the votes we needed in the House or in the Senate.

In my view all along was this going to be a long journey. This was going to be multiple stages. Stage was one unify the American people. And we've seen nearly 1.6 million Americans signed a national petition at and called their representatives saying stop ObamaCare.

Stage two was what happened on Friday. The House voting to defund ObamaCare.

Stage three is next week, where Senate Republicans, it's now our turn to unify, to stand together with House Republicans.

And then, the next step -- look, this may end up going back to the House. And I hope and fully believe the House will continue the fight. And if we take this to the American people, I believe the next step after that is starting to get red state Democrats.

If you're a Mark Pryor, if you're a Mary Landrieu, running for reelection in Arkansas and Louisiana, and you start to get 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 calls from your constituents, suddenly, it changes the calculus entirely.

But, Chris, that won't happen until we unify Republicans.

WALLACE: All right. But, Senator, here is the question everyone on both sides is asking in Washington, which is -- what's your end game? Let's say that you block consideration of any bill in the Senate. Or let's say that you lose, and the bill goes into the Senate and they take out ObamaCare and they send it back to the House -- what's your end game? Because the government is going to shut down a week from Monday.

CRUZ: Well, I don't want the government to shut down, the American people don't want the government to shut, and I don't think Harry Reid and President Obama should shut down the government.

Listen, if that happens -- if Harry Reid kills this bill in it the Senate, I think the House should hold its ground, and should begin passing smaller resolutions one department at a time. It should start, continuing resolution focused on the military -- fund the military, send it over, and let's see it Harry Reid is willing to shut down the military because he wants to force ObamaCare on the American people. I think that would be a very perilous decision for Harry Reid to make and if the House can keep driving this -- look, the House is the only body where the Republicans have a majority and so the House has to lead on this.

And I view my job and Mike Lee's job is providing as much support, as much air cover as we can for the House to stand up and lead. And I commend them for having than that last week.

WALLACE: Senator, I think -- excuse me, I think it's fair to say that you ticked off a lot of your fellow Republicans who feel you got them into this fight without an end game, without a strategy. I want to put some of their criticisms. They have gone on the record.

On the screen -- Congressman Tim Griffin of Arkansas wrote, "So far, Senate Republicans are good at getting Facebook likes and town halls, not much else. Do something."

Republican Congressman Pete King of New York calls you a fraud. "If he can deliver on this, fine. If he can't, he should keep quiet from now on and we shouldn't listen to them."

And Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said this, "I didn't go to Harvard or Princeton," which you did, "But I can count."

Republicans, especially in the House, say that you are pushing them into a fight that you don't know how to finish. Senator?

CRUZ: Well, look -- there is lots of folks in Washington that can choose to throw rocks, and I'm not going to reciprocate. I'm going to do likewise.

Listen, let me tell you about a broader problem. A broader problem is, we have got career politicians in both parties in Washington who aren't listening to the American people. I spent the entire month of August traveling Texas, traveling the country, speaking to the people.

And American people are hurting because ObamaCare isn't working. It's killing jobs, it's driving up their health insurance rates, it's causing them to be pushed in to part-time work. It's causing them to lose their insurance.

And I'll tell you why an awful lot of people in Washington are unhappy -- because they are hearing from their constituents in overwhelming numbers, that their constituents are saying, stand up and fight. Stand up the principle. Don't have an exception for Congress and big corporations that doesn't apply to the American --

WALLACE: Senator, I want to pick up on that.

Democrats feel that you have given them the political high ground in all this. I want to play what President Obama said yesterday, last night, from the Congressional Black Caucus.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You'd be willing to shut down the government and potentially default for the first time in United States history because it bothers you so much that we're actually going to make sure that everybody has affordable health care.


WALLACE: Senator, you're completely right. People don't like ObamaCare. On the other hand, by an even wider margin, people don't want to shut down the government to have this fight. In fact, there's a new Republican poll out late last week, a Republican poll, Winston Group, 71-23, don't shut down the government over this.

CRUZ: Well, it depends how the poll is phrase, and there are a lot of polls out there, Rasmussen, just last week, said a majority of Republicans now want ObamaCare defunded.

You know what's interesting? Last week, The Wall Street Journal, for the first time in years, found Republican are leading on health care -- Americans trust Republicans more than Democrats on health care.

And, Chris, let me suggest -- the whole reason why is because we've been standing up, leading the fight to defund ObamaCare. Voters have learned enough talk from Washington, stand up and do it.

And, listen, all you have to do is get out of Washington, D.C., and go listen to the American people. You talk to small businesses. They're laying people off. You talk to people that are struggling for jobs and finding their hours, forcibly reduced to 29 hours a week.

And, by the way, the people who are hurting, I hear from constituents every single day. Women with pre-existing conditions who are losing their health care because of ObamaCare. Their employers are dropping their health insurance coverage.  

WALLACE: Senator, I hate to interrupt. We're almost out of time. I just want to ask you one direct question. You have a lot of valid criticisms of ObamaCare. We're going to ask Senator McCaskill in the next segment about those.

But if it comes down, if the Senate ping-pongs this back to the House, and it's a question keep going on the fight about ObamaCare or shut down the government, what's -- what's your position? Keep the government going or keep fighting about ObamaCare?

CRUZ: I believe we should stand our ground and I don't think Harry Reid and Barack Obama should shut down the federal government. Look, the House voted to fund the federal government. If Harry Reid kills that, Harry Reid is responsible for shutting down the government and she should listen to the American people, open the government, fund the government, but don't fund ObamaCare because it's hurting the American people. It's not working.

That's why the unions want out. That's why Harry Reid and Senator McCaskill and Senate Democrats want out, because it's not working.

WALLACE: Senator, we're going to talk about all of that with Senator McCaskill of the next segment. I want to thank you so much for joining us today and we'll stay on top of the battle of the budget. It should be interesting.

CRUZ: Thank you, Chris.

WALLACE: Up next, Syria submits an initial inventory of its chemical weapons stockpile. We'll discuss with a former weapons inspector.

And then, Senator Claire McCaskill on Syria and the government shutdown, and the massacre at the Washington Navy Yard.

Stay tuned.


WALLACE: The Syrian government has met its first deadline in the agreement to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile. On Friday, it sent a watchdog agency an initial accounting of its arsenal. And U.S. officials say they are pleasantly surprised by the completeness of the Syrian inventory, declaring it better than expected.

Joining us now -- former U.N. inspector Charles Duelfer, who led the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after the 2003 invasion.

Mr. Duelfer, what do you make of the prompt response from the Assad regime? And what do you make of the positive reaction from the Obama administration?

DUELFER: Well, so far so good. Remember how far we've come in just two weeks.   Two weeks ago, the president was talking about a military strike, albeit it limited, to address the problem of Syrian chemical weapons. It looks as though the Russians have really moved the ball forward on this. A week ago, Lavrov, the foreign minister, made a proposal to disarm the chemical weapons by arms control, by inspections.

He is the only person who probably could have done that, because he knows the Syrians and he spent five years at the U.N. during the peak of the Iraqi problems. He knows of disarmament process. So, so far, so good.

I'd also point out that the Russians appear to be keeping the Syrian people to the fire on this.

WALLACE: Let me pick up on that, though, because Assad has a long history of delay and quite frankly of lying. The Russians have been known sometimes to delay on those kinds of issues.

Given Assad, given the Russians, how confident are you that we can meet this rather ambitious timetable to destroy Syria's chemical weapon stockpile, the entire stockpile, by the middle of next year?

DUELFER: Well, Chris, there's a few points that argue in favor of that being possible. One, look, the Syrians had chemical weapons for decades. So I my guess is that they have some capacity on their own to destroy old and aging munitions.

Secondly, there's going to be a lot of international support for this. My guess is that not all the work will be done inside Syria, but some of it will be taken outside of Syria.

The other point I would make is that Syria probably has a lot of experience in moving these things around. They can be consolidated pretty quickly, perhaps locations near the shore so they can be move off by ship.

I'm relatively optimistic that this narrow objective in a very complicated situation in Syria, but a narrow objective of getting rid of the chemical weapons is a case where Russian and American goals are congruent.

WALLACE: I -- let me put a cautionary note on all that, though. In the days after the August 21st chemical weapons attack, there were -- well, the U.S. was talking about military strikes. There was all kind of reports that the Syrian military was dispersing its chemical weapons, moving it out of the known areas, the arsenals, to places where they would be sheltered.

One, doesn't that make it a lot harder to actually find what these weapons are? And two what about the possibility that Assad could simply shift some of his chemicals weapons to allies in the region?

DUELFER: Well, this is obviously a question that the inspectors will have to look. Practically speaking, the hardest part of this stage is giving the bureaucracies right. There is a bureaucracy in The Hague, which is set up to implement the chemical weapons treaty convention. There's also the bureaucracy in the U.N. and New York, the security council, over the course of next week, they're going to have to sort this out.

It will be key to watch for who is going to be the person to head this. When you see that person named and identified, you'll get a better idea of whether this is going to move forward smartly. Obviously, you have to worry about Syrian cheating, but the Russians are going to be embarrassed and hurt in addition if Bashar al-Assad is caught cheating in this case.

WALLACE: Mr. Duelfer, we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you so much for coming in today and giving us your perspective on all this.

DUELFER: Thank you.

WALLACE: Joining us now from St. Louis, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, a member of the Armed Services Committee.

Senator, what's your reaction to the Assad regime meeting its first deadline, declaring its inventory of chemical weapons? And how confident are you that the Syrians and the Russians will live up to their agreement?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, D-MO: Well, I think Putin is doing the right things, Chris, but for the wrong reasons. He obviously now has an international stake in making good on what he has said. And he wants to be relevant in the world.

So, Putin clearly moved the ball quickly.

I credit Secretary Kerry and our entire team for a credible threat of military force which brought people to the table, and now, as has been stated, we're pleasantly surprised because we have a good idea of what they have and what they revealed is a pretty good effort. So, we've got to trust and verify, as President Reagan. And, you know, keep our eye on them because we don't trust -- we don't really trust Putin, but they're doing the right thing even if it is for the wrong reasons.

WALLACE: You talked about how we ended up in this situation. It was a very curious and controversial path. A few days ago, President Obama's two secretaries of defense from the first term both blasted him for his actions in this whole Syrian matter.

Take a look.


LEON PANETTA, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: When the president of the United States draws a red line, the credibility of this country is dependent on him backing up his word. When we draw a line and we give our word, damn it, we back it up.

ROBERT GATES, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Somebody asked the president the other day, "Do you trust Putin?" My answer would be, "Are you kidding me?"


WALLACE: Senator, Leon Panetta says that if you draw a red line, you've got to enforce it. Bob Gates says it's a joke to trust Putin.

However we ended up here, didn't President Obama really make a hash of this?

MCCASKILL: Well, I think it's very easy to always Monday morning quarterback in a very difficult mess like this is. There are no good solutions to this problem. There was no good answer. It's a civil war and we're not sure who the bad guys and the good guys are, but we did know that there were chemical weapons used.

And what the president has accomplished, no matter how he got here, he's got Putin doing the right thing and he's got Assad recognizing and admitting that he has chemical weapons and then moving in the right direction to get rid of them. And that's what this is about.

So you can Monday morning quarterback the way it went about, the play calling, but the results are a win for national security and for the standard of our nation being the moral high ground in the world.

WALLACE: I just want to point out -- it was Leon Panetta and Bob Gates, the two secretaries of defense, who were Monday morning quarterbacking.

Let me turn if I can to another --

MCCASKILL: Everybody was.

WALLACE: Pardon?

MCCASKILL: Everybody was Monday morning quarterbacking.

WALLACE: OK, that's all right. I guess that's part of the Constitution.

This week, former -- rather, Iranian President Rouhani comes to New York, to the General Assembly, and he is going to talk about seizing the opportunity for better relations between the U.S. and Iran. Should President Obama sit down with Rouhani at the U.N. this week?

MCCASKILL: Well, I don't know about that, but I do know there are some good signals. We need to celebrate the good signals, and we need to make our decisions in consultation with Israel. It is, in fact, Israel, that they have threatened to wipe off the globe. And it is important that we stay locked with Israel, as we approach these new signals from Iran.

WALLACE: Let's turn to domestic affairs. You just heard our interview with Senator Cruz, who is calling for a filibuster to block consideration of a House passed bill which would defund ObamaCare while funding the government.

I guess two questions. What do you think of Cruz's strategy? And how do you think this is going to play out over the next week?

MCCASKILL: Well, it's not brute political force that is refusing to defund ObamaCare. It's called the American people and elections. I don't think in America, we should throw tantrums when we lose elections and threaten to shut down the government and refuse to pay the bills.

The American people had a choice last November. They had a choice between someone who said repeal ObamaCare and President Obama. And not since Ronald Reagan has a president been elected twice by more than 50 percent of the American people.

And look in the Senate --every single Democratic senator who voted for ObamaCare was reelected, most of them by double digits, Chris. And we didn't lose seats in the Senate. We pick them up. And even in the House, the Democrats got more raw votes than Republicans.

WALLACE: All right, but you --


MCCASKILL: Gerrymandering gave them the majority.

WALLACE: So, you don't want to Monday morning quarterback --

MCCASKILL: The notion, the notion.

WALLACE: Let me ask you, how do you think this is going to play out?

MCCASKILL: I -- there -- I cannot believe that they are going to throw a tantrum and throw the American people and our economic recovery under the bus. It is really going to hurt real people.

And this is just political point making. This is about running for a president with Ted Cruz. This isn't about meaningful statesmanship.

This isn't about doing what we're sent to Washington to do, and that is compromise and run the government. Let's sit at the table and try to make ObamaCare better. Let's sit at the table and negotiate lower spending in our federal government.

Our deficit is dropping at the quickest rate in 50 years.

WALLACE: Senator, we're running out of time and I want to ask you a couple questions about that.

There has been and I think you agree in the last few weeks, a long list of problems that cropped up about ObamaCare. I want to put some of them up on the screen.

The Cleveland Clinic just announced that it will lay off workers, perhaps thousands of workers because of the cost of health care reform. Big companies, Walgreens, IBM, Sears, are sending their workers to private insurance exchanges where those employees may have to pay higher premiums.

And union leaders, Democratic supporters, union leaders talk about, quote, "nightmare scenarios."


TERRY O'SULLIVAN, PRESIDENT, LABORERS' INT'L UNION: We'll be damned if we're going to lose our health insurance because of unintended consequences in a law. It needs to be changed. It needs to be fixed. And it needs to be fixed now, brothers and sisters.


WALLACE: Question, if the White House is willing to give companies an extra year to try to figure this out, why not give the average American an extra while they work out what seems to be an awful lot of problems?

MCCASKILL: Because there are millions of Americans that need health insurance right now, Chris. And they're going to have an opportunity to get them on the exchanges.

The notion that the opponents of this are so -- are willing to say to the American people don't take the benefit that has been designed to allow you for the first time to go somewhere and get a reasonable insurance coverage for a reasonable price. We would rather you not do that so we can get a political victory by making this fail.

These exchanges are going to benefit millions of Americans. And Walgreens made a decision where they said, we're going to give you the money and all you to shop on the exchange where you're going to be to pool with a large group and get a wide variety of policies to choose from --


WALLACE: I don't want to get too deep in the weeds because we got other things to do. But -- I mean, the point is one, that amount of money they're going to give may no longer, as time goes on, be enough to pay the premium, and secondly, it's a direct contraction of President Obama who said if you like the health care plan you have, you can keep it. No, they won't be able to keep it.

MCCASKILL: I think the point is, Chris, that there is going to be an opportunity for millions of Americans who had no place to go, who had pre-existing conditions, to get insurance. As the bill is implemented, all of us just have one goal, and that's affordable, accessible health care.

Let's get to the table, if there are tweaks that need to occur, let's get it implemented. Let's give people an opportunity to buy insurance that they can afford, which is why we began down this road in the first place. People forget the problem we confronted.

And the people who are using this has a political two by four have no solution to this problem, it's not easy.

WALLACE: All right. One final question, because this is a subject in which you have great concern and that, of course, is the massacre of the Washington Navy Yard, where 12 people, innocent people, were killed by government contractor. The shooter, Aaron Alexis, had a long record of misconduct in the Navy and then a history of mental illness afterwards and yet he ends up with a secret clearance.

You are the chair of those Senate panel on contracting oversight. Question, how messed up is this system? You've got about a minute. How mess up is this system and what are you going to do about it?   MCCASKILL: It's very messed up. We have a contractor who has overpromised and you can't short change the right background checks. Now, we need to do a couple of things. One is make sure we're doing the right number of background checks and not too many. But the ones we do, we have to do right.

The company that did this background check is the same one that did Snowden. They're under criminal investigation, Chris. Dozens of people have been convicted for fraud around background checks, where they are not doing them and passing them through.

We've got to get to the bottom of this. It's a top to bottom overhaul. I'm insisting both on my committee on contracting oversight and the Armed Services Committee that we get it right and we're going to stay on it until we do.

WALLACE: Senator McCaskill, thank you. We'll have you back to talk more in detail about this because it's a big problem. Thank you, Senator.

MCCASKILL: Thank you.

WALLACE: Up next, the showdown over ObamaCare and the budget isn't the only one brewing in Washington. Our Sunday panel and a possibly of a bigger fight over raising the limit on the country's credit card.



PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: They're focused on politics. They're focused on trying to mess with me.


OBAMA: They're not focused on you.

SEN. RAND PAUL, R - KY: It's him threatening to shut it down. He doesn't want to listen to any reason or any compromise.


WALLACE: President Obama hammering Republicans over a potential government shut down and default on our national debt, while Kentucky Senator Rand Paul fires back it's the president who's provoking this confrontation. And it's time now for our Sunday Group. Brit Hume, Fox News senior political analyst. Amy Walter from the "Cook Political Report," GOP mastermind Karl Rove, and former Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich who is just back from his interview with Syrian President Assad. So, the House has passed a continuing resolution to keep the government flying through mid-December, but the price is, you've got to defund ObamaCare. Brit, you've heard both sides of the argument. How is this going to play out over the next eight days?   BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I noted Rand Paul whom you -- whom we've heard just a -- just a moment ago has said that this won't work. It's a strategy that the House Republicans and then Senator Ted Cruz and others have adopted, won't work. That they don't have the votes, it can't work, and the best thing they can try to do is to work some changes in ObamaCare to make it more palatable. That tells me all, I think, anybody needs to know about this. They don't have the votes. The parliamentary procedure that they're talking about following is so complex. And at the end of the day, it's all backed up by one thing, the threat of a government shutdown. And these senators and congressmen on the Republican side could say all they want about how it's Harry Reid and the president doing it, and they may well be correct, but I guarantee you, Chris, that is not how it will be portrayed and seen if there is a shout down. Shutdowns in Washington, long experience has taught, get blamed on Republicans.


AMY WALTER, THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT First of all, I think that the blame game is firmly already firmly established and that it will be in the hands of the Republicans and not the president. The thing that I can't quite understand...

WALLACE: And why is that?

WALTER: The person -- the polls going back, really, since the beginning of this year when we asked about who do you think is compromising, who do you think is not compromising, Republicans are overwhelmingly seen as non-compromising, the president is seen as much more conciliatory. For what -- that's what the polls have been showing for a while, so it's pretty clear in that sense. The other piece is that Republicans are starting off at a much lower point (ph) in terms of approval rating. The president's approval rating is no great shape, but it's much better than where the Republicans sit right now. But there is one thing I do want to bring up, it's the fact that Republicans right now, it's pretty clear, there is no strategy, there is no end game to where this goes. Obviously, you talked with Ted Cruz, made that point clear. But Republicans actually...

WALLACE: He would disagree with that.

WALTER: Well -- you're right. But the one thing that I would argue is that Republicans already have a victory and it's about holding it and showing what it is right now, which is even a clean C.R., even a continuing resolution that does not have the ObamaCare defunding in it, contains the sequester, contains deep larger cuts, the sorts of things that these Republicans many of whom came to Washington solely to do is something that the president and Democrats are willing to sign off on.

WALLACE: Karl, this has been one of the strangest weeks I've ever had in Washington. And I sat that, because as soon as we listed Ted Cruz as our featured guest this week, I got unsolicited research and questions, not from Democrats, but from top Republicans who -- to hammer Cruz. Why are Republicans so angry at Ted Cruz?  

KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, because this was a strategy laid out by Mike Lee and Ted Cruz without any consultation by -- with their colleagues. Mike Lee of Utah lays it out on July 9th without having ever brought it up at the Thursday meeting and the senators to say we've got an idea. I would suspect today, with all due respect to Mike, junior Senator from Texas, I suspect this is the first time that the endgame was described to any Republican senator. They had to tune in to listen to you to find out what Ted's next step was in the strategy. And look, you cannot build a congressional majority in either party for any kind of action, unless you're treating your colleagues with some or certain amount of respect and saying, hey, what do you think of my idea, and instead, they have dictated to their colleagues through the media, and through public statements, and not consulted them about this strategy at all.

I do want to (inaudible) one small thing that Senator Cruz said. He said, Republicans enjoy an advantage on health care in "The Wall Street Journal" poll this week. I wish it were true. The advantage in "The Wall Street Journal" poll was Americans favorite Democrats, trust Democrats more on health care, 37 to 29. Now, the bad news for the Democrats is, this is a historic low number for them. But Republicans don't have an advantage on it, at the time of the 19 -- the 2010 elections it was 42-32, so they had a ten point advantage now, they are -- they've got an eight point advantage.

WALLACE: Congressman Kucinich.

DENNIS KUCINICH, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN, D-OH: This is about political theater. Certainly, not about leadership. And what we're looking at here, is there is not going to be a government shutdown. There is not going to be a default, but there is a serious attempt to try to chip away at the Affordable Care Act, which means that there will be an attempt and all these back and forth to move up those who are eligible to 40 hour employees instead of 30 hours to repeal the employer mandate and make some other changing. So I agree with what Brit said about what might come about in this give and take. But this really undermines Capitol and government. They are not only with the American people ...

WALLACE: Let me interrupt just to pick up on that, though. I mean as you look and I know you're a big supporter of government healthcare.

KUCINICH: Not for profit healthcare, not with this ...

WALLACE: Basically, a single payer.


WALLACE: When you look at all the problems here, doesn't it concern you when you see companies fire -- the Cleveland Clinic, one of the symbols of health care in this country, is going to fire employees because of the costs of this. Big companies like IBM and Walgreen is going to put people on the private exchanges where they are not -- contrary to what the president said -- going to be able to keep their health care, this is a mess.  

KUCINICH: Well, it is. But at the same time, those who are attacking it, are not showing with their alternative. As you have -- you still have 50 million people without health care, if we continue under path that we run. So what I advocate is a not for profit system and frankly as long as we have a for profit system we're looking at this kind of gamesmanship, which is threatening the government of the United States itself.

HUME: I don't think a great many people would agree, because there is insurance companies that make a profit on this, that's the main problem with the ObamaCare, the main problem with ObamaCare is that it's -- it was cobbled together to collect Democratic only votes. It was rammed down the throats of the Republican Party. No change of this magnitude, anything as big as health care, in memory has ever been made something on the strength of the vote in one party. If this had been a bipartisan measure of some kind, it would look different than it does now. My guess is it would probably be better, and you would not have this united wall of opposition to it among Republicans, and you wouldn't have this rear guard actions being fought in the House and to some extent in the Senate. That is what I think is key here.

WALLACE: All right, we have to take a break here. Next up, President Obama and Iranian President Rouhani will address the U.N. General Assembly the same day in New York this week. But will they sit down and talk and should they? You could real all about it in Fox News's daily politics newsletter, get Fox News first delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up now, at



HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT: We have never pursued or sought a nuclear bomb. And we are not going to do so. We're solely seeking peaceful nuclear technology.


WALLACE: Iran's new president Hassan Rouhani leading a charm offensive and calling for new relations with the West as he prepares to address the U.N. this week in New York. And we're back now with the panel.

Well, we have seen some remarkable signals from the Iranians the last few weeks, they sent Rosh Hashanah greetings to the Iranians -- to, rather, the Israelis, they released some political prisoners, and we've had some very surprisingly conciliatory statements from the new President Rouhani as well as the supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei. Brit, what do you make of it?

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I think they're dying to get rid of the sanctions, and this new leader Rouhani really gains by comparison with his predecessor who was nothing but a little thug. Who didn't settle, he was unknown. This man is much more refined, he's made a whole series of what I would call polite gestures. Which sometimes in diplomacy early opening do something major, but nothing really substantive has been places on the table or done. So we await to see -- wait whether there is any substance behind this. But the atmosphere so far is wonderful, the guy is kind of charming.

WALLACE: Well, let's pick up on that, because, Amy, Iran certainly could be playing us. And they have a long history of this. Will they continue to develop their nuclear program? On the other hand, as Brit pointed out, the sanctions, really, have begun to bite. Oil exports of Iran are less than half of what they were two years ago, the value of their currency is half what it was two years ago. So, I mean, there is a reason for this charm offense.

WALTER: Right. Right. I think the bigger question for the U.S. as well is what is our longer term strategy? I mean it just seems like and for for this administration as well, it's, you know, where are we going in the Middle East, what do we expect to get out of this? We have been going now through the experience in Syria for these short term solutions to longer term problems. I don't know what the endgame is, I don't know if anybody knows whether we're talking about this, Syria, and, of course, our relationships with other countries in the Middle East, what the ultimate solution is going to be. And I think that's the bigger question.

WALLACE: Well, let me talk short term, real short term, Karl. If you were back in the White House, how would you advise the president? Should he sit down -- basically, a gesture, it's obviously not a negotiation, but a gesture welcoming him and saying we also want it, what would you say, no, and if not how do you test their seriousness?

ROVE: Yeah, look, no, don't sit down with it. I mean first of all -- look, he told a boldfaced lie in that interview, we don't have a nuclear -- we'll never go (ph) nuclear bomb. Who is he kidding? Take a look at his speech yesterday in the "Washington Post." Three times he denounces international terrorism and extremism. This is the government that is underwriting Hezbollah in the Middle East. You know, he talks about -- my government is ready to facilitate dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition. This is the government that is flying arms into the Syrian regime and Revolutionary Guards from Iran are fighting alongside the Syrian regime's forces. So, who -- who is he kidding? You're right, he's charming and subtle, but he is a charming and subtle thug just like his predecessor who was an uncharming unsubtle thug.

WALLACE: Congressman Kucinich, And I guess part of the question would be -- perhaps because of the sanctions, I don't think it's because they turned over a new leaf, that the Iranians might want a new relationship and perhaps if you test him, might be willing to give up stuff.

KUCINICH: Which is the reason why we should be talking to them. I mean it's not constructive to try to create a cartoon version of their leaders, it happens to be, to call him a thug, when he's making initiative to open communications with the United States. I think it is better, you know, as a matter of course, you better talk to people before you think about bombing them. Because maybe you don't have to get to aggression. And we need to take a different approach. We could use this as an opportunity not only to ask Iran to put aside its nuclear technology, but to look at our own policies. And work towards nuclear abolition. When you look at that story yesterday, Chris, about how a plane off, you know, disintegrated in the air and just about lose H-bomb over ...

WALLACE: This counts.

KUCINICH: Over North Carolina 50 years ago, we should start thinking about getting rid of ...

WALLACE: But Karl, let me just bring up this possibility. Let's say the sanctions really are hurting, and they apparently are. And the average man in the street and the fact that Rouhani was elected, is the statement of something. And let's say he has been given a certain amount of time and if he doesn't bring back something, then the hard liners come back and forth. Why not? What's the cost of at least exploring? And you're right, they are shipping arms to Syria. They're the great state sponsor of terrorism, why not pursue it and see if they are willing to change?

ROVE: Because words should not buy a concession from the United States.

WALLACE: But (inaudible) the concession?

ROVE: The concession is the president of the United States does what no president has done since the 1970s, and that sits down with leader of Iran and treats him as an equal. What they need to do is, and that would be -- that would be disheartening in the region. Our allies in the region would say, what the heck are you doing? Where's your chief? Let's see some action from him. And not simply things that are going to do play well on his home front like letting some political -- a few political prisoners out of there as best archipelago of Gulag prisons. But let's see them do something constructive about the number one issue we have, the nuclear issue or the number two issue we have, which is their sponsorship of state terrorism through Hezbollah, and their active number three issue, which is their active involvement of propping up the Assad regime. There is nothing that he has said or done other -- other than, you know, charming words and pleasant things. This gives us any confidence there are going to be any difference.

WALLACE: All right.

ROVE: So, he has got to demonstrate by action.

WALLACE: We've got a couple of minutes left, and one of us at this table, is just back from Syria, and talking to Syria President Assad. Congressman Kucinich, in your interview, Assad flatly denied that the government had any involvement in the chemical weapons attack on August 21 that killed 1,500 people. Given that almost everyone thinks that is a flat lie, that the government was involved in that, how can we trust him to give up his chemical weapons?

KUCINICH: First of all, no official body connected with the U.N. has maintained that President Assad was directly responsible for that.

WALLACE: But it was his regime.

KUCINICH: It has to be put on the record that there is no proof that he ordered that. OK? That's number one, because if he had, he would have committed a war crime. There is no question about that.

Now, let's continue. They have now offered up their list of chemical weapons to the oversight.


KUCINICH: Now we have to see if they're willing to move to the next step, which is open inspection, verifiability, and movement toward destruction of those weapons. That's what we should be on track for.

I also want to say that with that interview, Greg Palkot did a tremendous job in pushing President Assad, we both did, on some of those issues.

WALLACE: You got less than a minute. Brit, your reaction?

HUME: Well, it is another case where he sits down and does this interview, it's a catalog of falsehoods that he stated. It may be true that no official body has identified him as the one who made the call, but his regime, as Chris suggested, is responsible for this, and I don't see how he escapes responsibility from that. And at the moment, he stands, it seems to me, responsible for what is manifestly a war crime. And I'm glad he put forward this catalog of weapons, but we got a long way to go before we see them dismantled, and I think we're just starting here.

WALLACE: All right. Thank you, panel. And let me say, remember our discussion continues every Sunday on panel plus, and we'll continue the discussion about the Assad interview and whether we can or can't or should or should not trust Assad. You can find it on our web site,, and make sure to follow us on Twitter, @foxnewssunday.

Up next, our power player of the week. Ivanka Trump on what it's like to be the Donald's daughter.


WALLACE: Her father is one of this country's most recognizable figures, but now she is making a name for herself with her own style and accomplishments. Here is our power player of the week.


TRUMP: I represent the feminine voice of an otherwise more masculine brand.

WALLACE: At age 31, Ivanka Trump has grown into a force in her own right. Executive vice president of the Trump Organization, she also runs the Ivanka Trump Collection of women's clothes and accessories, which will make $250 million this year. And she is a larger than life presence in the New York social scene.

How is it to be Donald Trump's daughter?

TRUMP: I happen to be very lucky. And any pressure he puts on me, I put on myself probably five times more.

DONALD TRUMP: Ivanka, congratulations to you and your team, and you better do a good job or you're fired.

WALLACE: Ivanka and her dad were in Washington last week to announce plans to turn the Old Post Office Pavilion a few blocks from the White House into a luxury hotel. And yes, she inherited her dad's gift for promotion.

TRUMP: There is nothing comparable to this building. You just couldn't build it today.

WALLACE: Ivanka was eight months pregnant when we talked, but that didn't stop her from traveling to Washington or from all her work for the Trump Organization.

TRUMP: I will be involved from the acquisition, through the financing, through the development and the execution, whether it be announcing a new super luxury golf course in Dubai, or a project, (inaudible) project in Istanbul, or a hotel in Beijing. It bears a tremendous amount to keep us busy. 

WALLACE: Ivanka graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, but as the daughter of the man who wrote "The Art of the Deal," she acknowledges it is also in her genes.

What is it about the deal that excites you?

TRUMP: It's not the money. The dance of negotiation. You have to be very intuitive, to read the person that you're working with, or against, or in partnership, or in concert with.

WALLACE: Are there some advantages to being a woman in the board room?

TRUMP: People will be less prepared when meeting with me than they are when meeting with my father. And that is to my benefit.

WALLACE: While Ivanka is fiercely loyal to her father, she has also had to deal with the controversy he stirs up, such as his fixation on President Obama's birthplace.

DONALD TRUMP: If you are going to be the president of the United States, you have to be born in this country. And there is a doubt.

TRUMP: He will only say what he thinks, and I personally have tremendous respect for that.

WALLACE: But truth to tell, have you ever said to your dad, cool it?

TRUMP: Well, he's my father, so of course.

WALLACE: Ivanka says one thing she loves about a project is when it's done, you see people using it, enjoying what she worked on for years, from planning, to financing, to construction. 

TRUMP: Real estate is particularly exciting for me, because it's tangible. So many people operate in an assembly way, buying and selling assets that they don't really own outside of paper. Ultimately, at the end of the day, if you've executed, it's there, and it represents those labors in a very real and tangible way.


WALLACE: Ivanka didn't start out following in her father's footsteps. She modeled in her teens, and after graduating from college, worked for a different company. But now she is a big player in the family business.

And that's it for today. Have a great week and we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."

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