All-Star Panel: Political blame game over slimdown rages on

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 3, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I'm happy to negotiate with you on anything. I don't think any one party has a monopoly on wisdom. But you don't negotiate by putting a gun to the other person's head, or worse yet, by putting a gun to the American people's head by threatening a shutdown.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Yesterday's meeting at the White House frankly wasn't particularly encouraging. The president basically called us down there to tell us he's not interested in negotiating. It was essentially a negotiation about not negotiating. And now we hear he's off campaigning today in Rockville rather than sitting down to get this thing solved.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, day three heading into day four of the government shutdown. And take a look at the new Fox News polls. The president's approval rating actually ticking up. And then you see most responsible for the government shutdown, Republicans like Speaker Boehner 25 percent, President Obama 24 percent, Tea Partiers like Senator Cruz, 17, Democrats like Senator Reid eight percent, and then all is at 20 percent. Now take a look at the president's job approval ratings and they actually tick up a little bit from September to now.

We are back with the panel. Jason, what about this? When -- is it possible to see a scenario where Speaker Boehner has an exit ramp here, that there is a big deal in the works that ties the continuing resolution, the shutdown with the debt ceiling, and it all is rolled into one big deal?

JASON RILEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL: That seems to be where they are headed based on the latest reports out today. But even that is going to take presidential leadership. And I don't see it. I watched that speech today. The president seemed to be having a really good time, Bret. I mean, he was enjoying himself. He was campaigning as Senator McConnell said. He was out there taking pot shots at the opposition. He was talking about not negotiating, digging in. All the rhetoric was there of a campaign-style speech. He really seemed to be enjoying himself.

But the fact of the matter is the buck does stop with him, but for his lack of leadership. We wouldn't be in this position that we're in today. I think that polling that you just showed reflects that. Maybe the White House internal polling is going to come around to that as well.

But if we are headed towards a deal that combines continuing resolution with the debt ceiling, it would still take presidential leadership, and this president doesn't seem to be up to the task.


STODDARD: Well, I think it's easy to focus on the faux outrage on the side of the Democrats and the grandstanding by the president and everything. But Republicans, you can't find a Republican who tells it you what the plan is because they are living in an hour-to-hour free fall. They got -- they walked into a shutdown that the Democrats backed away and let them walk into. They have no idea how to get out of it. They literally will admit that the he ObamaCare defunding plot was a diversion, a new thing that sprung out of nowhere that blindsided most members.

And now they feel sorry for the speaker because how is he going to get a concession on ObamaCare we he's actually just trying to reach for a grand bargain to get out of default?

Yes, it would be great to have a deficit reduction; it would be great to have Medicare reform. It would be great. If John Boehner can pull that off, that would be what people have been waiting for years. At this point, there is no strategy to bundle the deal. So you say is your goal to bundle the deal and just roll it into the debt ceiling October 17th? Yes, that's the goal. What's the plan? We have no idea.

And when you get to default, which would be unprecedented and cataclysmic and affect not just us but economies around the world, that needs a plan. That's not funny. So they need to find one. I think if you are a Republican and you think this is OK, you need your head examined. If you want the Republican Party to straighten itself out and be ready for primetime in 2016, you can't think this is good.

BAIER: Gotcha. But to Jason's point about the president. He has said is he not negotiating on the debt ceiling. But how does he not negotiate but then negotiate, and give Speaker Boehner a "w" or an exit ramp?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Right, right. And you have heard comments or read comments from White House officials or administration officials saying basically the president needs to it find a way to negotiate without actually looking like is he negotiating just as you suggest.

Look, I think the idea that this is going to turn into some big deal that will produce some grand bargain is total fantasy. That's insane to think that that's what's going to happen here. It's definitely true that the continuing resolution fight and the debt ceiling fight are going to come together, but that's because of time, not because of strategy.

The idea that you are going to take this intractable position where both sides have dug in, aren't even at the point where they are negotiating. The president, Jay Carney said today we are not negotiating on the CR, we're not negotiating on the debt ceiling, we are not negotiating on the ObamaCare.

BAIER: I got it, but what is the end deal? I get all of these comments. But where is the end?

HAYES: Nobody knows. The reason we can't tell you is because I talked to 10 different people on Capitol Hill. And nobody can come up with a plan. People can say well, I have got this. There is this element.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: You know why the president is not budging, and you can say he is a failed leader, but, and I think it's irresponsible when you are flirting with default. John Boehner said today to several Republicans I will not allow the country to default. You know what Democrats think? Why give him something if he is going to fold anyway.

HAYES: But he has been saying that for weeks. And you get strong pushback from leadership offices about the idea that Boehner said something new, that he broke new ground by saying I'm not going to let this default.  There was a New York Times story, a Washington Post story that he is telling this to Republicans. That's an old story. I don't think there is anything new.


RILEY: I think is he driving a hard bargain because he still thinks he has the upper hand.

RILEY: He looks at the polls, he sees a divided opposition, he sees a Ted Cruz faction and a John Boehner faction. He sees the opposition divided. And he also says at the end of the day the Republicans do not have the votes in the Senate to work their will. So he thinks he is playing -- operating from a position of strength.

That speech today is not the kind of speech you give when you are trying to bring the parties together for a deal. That is a boasting, braggart speech and very un-presidential, and not really up to the seriousness of what this country is facing.

BAIER: All right, so I am actually not hearing any possibility.

STODDARD: There's no end game.


HAYES: The situation is very fluid. So anything could change within six hours or 12 hours, right? But I think it's pretty clear at this point that absent some new initiative from the president, this shutdown is going to go on for a while. We are in this for a while.

BAIER: Last word?

STODDARD: The president is -- there is a report out today that the president believes that is he going to reorder the power in Washington between the branches with this exercise.

BAIER: Break the fever as he says. We shall see. That's it for the panel. But we have three more panel segments. I mentioned that, right?  But stay tuned for a second hour on today's big news in Washington and the latest headlines around the world. 

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