Rep. Southerland, Rep. Van Hollen on the 'war on poverty'; What does an unstable Iraq mean for US security?

Reaction from the 'Fox News Sunday' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," January 12, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JOHN ROBERTS, HOST: I'm John Roberts, in for Chris Wallace.

Congress returns to work amid continued gridlock on Capitol Hill. While outside the Beltway, scandal threatens a potential GOP front- runner.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R – N.J.: I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team.

ROBERTS: We'll look into the fallout over the traffic jam for political payback fiasco in New Jersey.

Plus, take a deeper look inside the tell-all book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, that's putting the Obama administration on defense.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I can just tell what you the facts are. You can decide for yourself what you want to believe.

ROBERTS: Our Sunday panel tackles all that plus their thoughts on the legacy of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. We'll have a live report from Jerusalem.

Then, 50 years after President Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty, both parties are refocusing their sights on inequality.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We've got to make sure this recovery which is real leaves nobody behind.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R - FL: The current government programs that are designed to address poverty, they do not help people emerge from it. They do not help people rise above it.

ROBERTS: We'll examine competing visions with Republican Congressman Steve Southerland of Florida, and Democrat Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

And al Qaeda's resurgence in the Middle East leaves to criticism of President Obama's handling of the war in Iraq. We'll discuss the fate of the region with Senators James Inhofe and Ben Cardin.

All, right now, on FOX "Fox News Sunday."


ROBERTS: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.

It has been a wild week in politics. Lawmakers back on Capitol Hill and back up old habits, squabbling over expending unemployment benefits. The White House got on a firestorm over excerpts from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' new memoir that cast key members of the administration in rather unflattering light.    And in New Jersey, Chris Christie known for his combative governing style is the butt of jokes and forced to try humility after a smoking gun e-mail ties his office to a nightmarish closing of access to the George Washington Bridge.


CHRISTIE: I am responsible for what happened. I am sad to report to the people of New Jersey that we fell short.


ROBERTS: To discuss all of this week's political headlines, we begin with our Sunday group: syndicated columnist George Will, Bob Woodward of "The Washington Post," GOP mastermind Karl Rove, and FOX News political analyst Juan Williams.

Let's start off with Chris Christie, because this is a huge political story.

A lot of people say, George, that he did himself a good service on Thursday when he came out and forthrightly addressed this. Let's start by Chris Christie denying any connection to what happened with the George Washington Bridge.


CHRISTIE: I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or execution. And I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here.


ROBERTS: Chris Christie, of course, the Republican front-runner at this point in the 2016. Has it damaged his chances?

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I don't think so. Assuming what he just said is true -- and I'm prepared to assume that -- it's still too soon to say. The American people are convinced, not without reason, but the political class is largely composed of synthetic figures, cobbled together from focus groups and polling and all the rest.

So what they're looking for first is authenticity. But then they have to decide that they like what you authentically are. He has established his authenticity.

The question is, is this the kind of president people want? It's one thing at the governor's level. Something happens with the presidency, because of the media's obsession with the presidency, and because of television, we live in such intimate relationships with our president who are in our living rooms every day at dinner time, usually, on the news hour, for this reason they have to decide if that's a persona that translates to the presidential level of politics and the jury is still out on that.

ROBERTS: He did get high marks mostly from Republicans for addressing this forthrightly, showing leadership taking command.

Let's listen to what Chris Christie said on Thursday about what he did in the wake of the smoking gun e-mail becoming public.


CHRISTIE: I found this out at 8:50 yesterday morning. By 9:00 this morning, Bridget Kelly was fired. By 7:00 yesterday evening, Bill Stepien was asked to leave my organization. That's pretty swift action for a day's work.


ROBERTS: Many people, Karl, are making the point that if you contrast with that President Obama who has been beset with all his controversies, the only victim, the only person that's been fired is actually an organization. It's CGI which created the ObamaCare Web site. Nobody else is getting replaced (ph).

KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Yes. Look, I think he did himself a lot of good-bye stepping forward and being very straight forward and very candid and very blunt and taking immediate action.

I do agree with George that the jury is still out on this and whether or not this sort of brash style in New Jersey is transferable anywhere else in the country. But that was going to be the big question anyway. I think he did himself some good by contrasting with the normal routine way of handling these things, which is to be evasive, and sort of trim on the edges.

I mean, it's not -- you'll notice we haven't been hearing a lot from the Clinton camp about this. The contrast with President Clinton and Secretary Clinton's handling of Benghazi. So I think it's going to be hard for Democrats to turn this into an issue. The question is whether the facts are going to turn this into an issue.


JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think it's the Democrats who are having the ultimate say here. I think it's Republicans. I think it's the Republican primaries that are going to come up.

And in those Republican primaries, you're going to see a lot of Tea Party kind of grassroots people who don't like Chris Christie, don't like the fact that he expanded Medicaid in New Jersey, don't like his attitude and welcoming immigrants and in-state tuition, and really don't like the fact that he embraced President Obama for the help that the president gave after Hurricane Sandy. That element of the party doubts Chris Christie's conservative credentials.

And I think in the battle between establishment Republicans and grassroots Republicans, you have a major fight and Chris Christie has opened the door to his conservative critics.   You said he's a leading Republican right now in the polls for 2016. Well, he's got to get through the Republican primaries, John. And right now, it looks like there's a blockage on the long bridge to 2016 for Chris Christie.

ROBERTS: Bob, I know you'd be chomping at the bit to write a book about Chris Christie administration because of how much fun it would be to write that book.


ROBERTS: But what are your thoughts?

WOODWARD: On traffic-gate or whatever it is. I mean, what's this about? I mean, that's what's so shocking. If you think, there are 200 million Americans with driver's licenses. You get caught in a traffic jam and you go in and you say, oh, there aren't enough roads, or there's too much construction, or they don't time the lights right.

Unthinkable, at least to me, that some politician or some political group is engineering this for political purposes.

And George Will always makes the point which is right here there is too much governing. There are people in that office sitting around, saying I just don't get the idea that anyone could say let's engineer a traffic jam. Fort Lee, New Jersey, is in New Jersey. And this is the governor's office somehow saying let's penalize these people? It is -- it is a form --

ROBERTS: So you don't buy the whole story?

WOODWARD: I buy it. I think it's lodged in people's minds because they're saying this is a dirty trick off the charts. We've never seen one like that.

And I think the reporting is going to get to the issue of what did Christie know and not know. But it's also going to deal with who -- where was the meeting, the discussion saying let's do this? Let's engineer a traffic jam? Was there anyone in that office who said I vote no?

ROBERTS: George, I know you want to jump in here. We need to get a Twitter question in ,because every week, we ask our audience to submit a question via Twitter and Facebook.

Rod Nelson writes, "Where was this media coverage on Benghazi, the NSA and the IRS? Why is this not a, quote, 'phony' scandal?"

WILL: Well, this is not a phony scandal because as the principal Watergate scholar knows, John Dean sent a memo to Mr. Higby, who was the assistant of the Chief of Staff Haldeman, saying, we should use the machinery -- the federal machinery of government to screw our enemy. That's what this was about up there.

I say one thing about this -- we've identified him as the front- runner, Christie. Nothing matters at this point. At this point in the 1972 cycle, the front-runner was Edmund Muskie, sic transit gloria mundi.

In 1980, people said watch out for John Connally. He's a coming star.

1984, they said John Glenn, the movie "The Right Stuff" is coming out. Watch out for John Glenn.

In 2008, to come to modern history, at this point, far and away leader was Rudy Giuliani.

ROVE: Well, in the Democrat side in 2005 at this point, Barack Obama wasn't even in the polls. He was zero. So, I think you're absolutely right.

One note of disagreement with my friend Juan. There will be reasons why conservatives have disagreements with Chris Christie. I don't think the Tea Party is going to seize upon Fort Lee and the George Washington Bridge as their defining difference with Christie.

In fact, I think he's handling to this -- being straightforward, taking action, saying "I'm responsible firing people" -- probably gives him some street cred with Tea Party Republicans who say, "That's what we want in a leader, somebody who steps up and takes responsibility."

WILLIAMS: Well, when Glenn Beck says conservatives should run away from Chris Christie in the aftermath, when Rush Limbaugh says this is pay back and this is kind of "Sopranos" politics --


ROVE: There's a difference between saying it's pay back on the part of the media. It's another thing to say that this is going to have a huge effect on 2016?

WOODWARD: But what is the mindset in here? What -- out of that office, it came out of that office. I mean --

ROVE: So did Benghazi and so did IRS coming out of appointees of President Obama --

WOODWARD: Exactly. And what we need --

ROVE: -- and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

WOODWARD: We need all. We need more reporting on all of these things. But I want to hear, I want to read the tick-tock of who came up with this --

ROVE: Your lips to the gods of journalism -- the amount of attention paid to Chris Christie makes the coverage of Benghazi, at the same time, the coverage of the IRS, pale in significance.

ROBERTS: We have to leave it there.

We should add this note, though, according to "The Bergen Record", which has been the lead on breaking this, Assemblyman Wisniewski, who is in charge of the investigation here, is now likely going to subpoena Bridget Kelly and Governor Christie's media spokesperson for their e-mails and other communications.

So, Bob, this may go further down the road to finding out exactly what the genesis of all this was.

We've got to take a break here. But when we come back, politics sure can make for some strange bedfellows. Senator Rand Paul, among a group of bipartisan senators at the White House this week to talk about the economy.

We'll discuss the new focus on poverty and income inequality with two key members of Congress, coming up next.    And be sure to tell us what you think on Facebook and share your favorite moments of today's show with other Fox fans.



OBAMA: Each of the communities is designing from the bottom up, not the top down, what it is they think they need and we're working with them to make that happen. And each of these communities prepared to do what it takes to change the odds for their kids. We will help them succeed. Not with a handout but as partners.


ROBERTS: President Obama on Thursday rolling out his "Promise Zones" initiative to encourage economic development in high poverty areas throughout the country.

With us now to discuss these efforts -- Congressman Steve Southerland of Florida, who chairs the Republican Study Committee's anti-poverty initiative, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, ranking member of the House Budget Committee.

Congressmen, welcome to "Fox News Sunday." Good to have you back again.

REP. STEVE SOUTHERLAND, R - FL: Thank you, John.

ROBERTS: Let's start with you, Congressman Southerland. This was all done on the anniversary of Lyndon Johnson's declaration of the war on poverty. What do you think of this idea of creating these 20 "Promise Zones" across the country, the first five of which were unveiled on Thursday?

SOUTHERLAND: Well, the president, I believe this is a program he made reference to in a State of the Union a year ago. So, it doesn't seem to be much of an urgency here since it's 13 months after he first mentioned it.

But, look, the devil's in the details. There wasn't a lot of details that came out. But as you know, President Reagan had the "Enterprise Zones" that if it's patterned after that, that encouraged school choice. I do believe in tax incentives in order to move the economy forward.

And so, we're going to be patient. We're going to look at what the president is offering. But again, the devil is in the details.

ROBERTS: Congressman, I think many people were appreciative of the idea of the "Promise Zones". Ted Cruz, though, came out and said, "All of America needs to be a 'Promise Zone' -- with reduced barriers to small businesses creating private sector jobs."   Do you agree or disagree with the premise that the best way out of poverty is to have a job and the best way to create jobs is to create a playing field in which small businesses can flourish?

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, D - MD: Oh, John, there's no doubt about it, that the best way to pull people out of poverty is to get the economy kicked into full gear and all the effort that's go into that.

So, for example, I believe we got to reinvest in our infrastructure. You've got huge needs in term of rebuilding our infrastructure, modernizing for the 21st century. And you've got a lot of people unemployed in the construction area. So, that's a win- win. We'd like to work with our colleagues to do it.

But there is also a very important role to play in trying to harness resources to focus on places in greatest needs. We also need to make sure more people can share in prosperity. That's why we should increase the minimum wage, which hasn't been raised for a long time.

So, the president's promise is a part of an overall strategy to try to get the economy going and have more broadly shared prosperity.

ROBERTS: But there is a fundamental difference in ideology though of how to do this. Congressman Southerland, you said, looking back on Lyndon Johnson's war in poverty, it has failed and failed miserably. Do you keep putting more money into existing programs or do you -- as Senator Marco Rubio suggested earlier this week -- fundamentally reform everything, take a big pot of money that federal government has and give that to the states to administer in innovative ways? They're the ones on the ground who know what needs to be done.

SOUTHERLAND: John, I think you have to look at the indicators, the fundamentals of these programs. Look what causes poverty. We know, OK, that, two parent families is a child's greatest opportunity to avoid poverty.

We know that a good quality education with daily parent involvement, great choice reduces poverty. We know that a good job, you know, 90 -- of the people that have a job, OK, only 3 percent are in poverty.

So, if you have a job in this country, 97 percent chance that you're not going to be in poverty. And so, therefore, I think there's a better way, OK? If you look at the last 50 years, if you look at those fundamentals, I think it's long pastime to change direction.

ROBERTS: Congressman Van Hollen?

VAN HOLLEN: Let me just say -- I mean, there's this narrative out there that war on poverty has failed. The reality is we still have many Americans in poverty.

ROBERTS: It's about the same number.

VAN HOLLEN: But the reality is people are using a lot of misleading figures in this effort. The Council of Economic Advisors just released a report showing that we have cut poverty by one-third since 1967. The numbers that --


ROBERTS: -- percentage.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, that's the number of people as a percentage of the population. After all, I mean, our country has grown by 125 million people. So, the point --


VAN HOLLEN: Well, the point -- no, the point they've been making is that it's not succeeded because they ignore the benefits of some of the programs we've had, the earned income tax credit. I hope nobody would deny that helped people get out of poverty.

The food stamp program which Steve and his colleagues are trying to cut, they want to cut 4 million people off food stamps even though we just had a cut in November.

So, it's hard to listen to our colleagues on one hand saying they want to fight the war on poverty when they're taking all these initiatives to throw more people into poverty.

ROBERTS: What do you think of Senator Rubio's proposal to do away with the earned income tax credit that lumps some payment that people get at the end of the year and replace it with a federal wage enhancement?

VAN HOLLEN: I think the earned income tax credit has helped. In fact, I think it's a fact, that it's helped lift people out of poverty. So, I would be opposed to that.

That has been a bipartisan idea. Republicans and Democrats joined together to pass the income tax rate to reward work, to say to people if you work hard, you're at least going to earn an income that is above the poverty level. So that's a very important effort, as are these others.

So, we should not use numbers to say we're not winning the war on poverty because we don't count these programs. We're not winning because we still have 47 million Americans in poverty. But let's not ignore the progress that has been made.

ROBERTS: Congressman Southerland, you're getting the stuffing beat out of you in Florida second congressional district over your proposal to require work for people that have food stamps.


ROBERTS: But the bigger part of that, though, is the temporary assistance for needy families program was probably one of the most successful programs in this country and Congress has ever come out with. And it causes Republicans to apply that more broadly across the board in any poverty programs.


ROBERTS: Do you agree?

SOUTHERLAND: Well, look, we literally patterned, it's ironic that we patterned our bill as it applies to able-bodied individuals that are of working age, mentally, physically, psychologically able to work.

ROBERTS: Like the famous surfer we highlighted?

SOUTHERLAND: Yes, absolutely, that's eaten lobster in California.

Excluded children, excluded the disabled, excluding seniors, that they work, train for work, live for work or volunteer. And I think that they'd be productive. I think that over 80 percent of America agrees with that premise.

So, I think it makes sense. But it only applies, again, to the able-bodied individuals without dependents.

ROBERTS: Is that such a horrible idea?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, first of all, Steve is ignoring the whole other part of their proposal. Their proposal cuts $40 billion out of food and nutrition programs on top of the cuts in November. More than half the households there are working households with kids or households with seniors who are not expected to work.

And so, you're actually sending a very bad message about work when you're actually cutting food support for families that are working, which goes to the category --

ROBERTS: But his particular proposal that's getting beaten rather severely about. He is saying able bodied people who were able --   

VAN HOLLEN: But there's one that says you have to have training programs, which is fine except for the proposal also cuts resources for training programs in the state. At the same time, you've got three people, you've got three people looking for every one job in this country, John.

ROBERTS: Quick response?


SOUTHERLAND: First of all, Chris is pretty good with numbers, OK? He's the numbers guy. But there are a couple numbers that I think are glaring. First of all, since this president took office, 6.7 million Americans have entered into poverty.

We know that 45 percent of single mothers live in poverty. And so, therefore, why -- why we are trying to push more policies that add to those numbers that if you look at the facts, this administration, we can do better. We must do better.

ROBERTS: Let me --

VAN HOLLEN: We can always do better, but it is also a fact that more than 8 million jobs have been created over the last 46 months. Isn't it enough? No. You still have three people looking for every job.

So we should not be cutting off extended unemployment benefits.

ROBERTS: Well, on that point -- let's listen to what Senator Harry Reid said about the Republican position on unemployment insurance extension on Thursday.


SEN. HARRY REID, D-NV, MAJORITY LEADER: You have to give them credit. They're doing their best to divert attention away from this issue. This is opposition and it's cold hearted to extend unemployment benefits. It's a very tough position to defend.


ROBERTS: Correction, that was Wednesday.

But, Congressman Van Hollen, are Republicans cold hearted? All they want to do is they want to pay for some of the employment insurance extension?

VAN HOLLEN: No, that's not the case. A lot of people are still opposed it to. We put forward a proposal in the House before we took the winter break to pay for it by cutting excessive ag subsidies. We were denied an opportunity to even vote on that measure.

The reality is, you know, you listen to people like Rand Paul. They take the insulting position that these people are sitting back taking unemployment compensation when they're required to look for work.


ROBERTS: There's no question they can get (INAUDIBLE) in the Senate if it pays for it, and this offer to extend to 31 weeks, and pay for it in 2024. Is that a real offer, Congressman Southerland?

SOUTHERLAND: Well, look, I think you have to look at what's going on in states like North Carolina.

I mean, obviously, last July, North Carolina's emergency unemployment ended -- emergency unemployment ended and they created 35,000 jobs and unemployment rate has gone from 8.9 percent to 7.4 percent. So let's learn from that, OK? Let's learn how we could apply that on a more broader scale, because the Republicans believe we've got to get this economy moving because when you get the economy moving, investors are going to -- job creators are going to do what they do best.

ROBERTS: I think everybody agrees we've got to get the economy moving. It's just a difference on how to get there.

We've got to leave it there. Congressmen, thanks so much for joining us. We really appreciate it. It's always great to you.


ROBERTS: Coming up next, the resurgence of al Qaeda in the Middle East. The terrorist network is gaining ground in Iraq while the country is teetering on the brink of civil war. Two key senators weigh in next.

Plus, the life and legacy of Ariel Sharon. We'll have a live report from Jerusalem.


ROBERTS: We go overseas now to Israel where news came yesterday that former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has died at the age of 85. Sharon was a larger than life figure in Israel, dubbed "The Bulldozer" by the media there, for his ability to get things done and the contempt he held for critics.

Our own Conor Powell is live in Jerusalem for us this morning with the latest.

Hi, Conor.


We've seen a steady stream of Israelis coming here to the Knesset to pay their final respects to Ariel Sharon. Ariel Sharon's casket will sit in state line, stayed here for six hours today, and then tomorrow, it will be moved to his family farm down in southern Israel. There will be a service tomorrow.

Vice President Joe Biden will lead the U.S. delegation. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will also be in attendance.

Sharon leaves a very mixed legacy here in Israel, both the right and left can find something to praise and hate about him. He is hailed as a great defender of Israel, also a military genius.

But he resigned in shame after hundreds of Palestinian were killed by Israel's Christian allies in Lebanon following the 1982 war. And despite being an early supporter of the movement to build Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, he later in life as prime minister did an about-face, championing the total disengagement from Gaza in August of 2005. It was a controversial decision then, it remains a controversial decision now.

John, one thing that we're hearing when we're talking to Israelis is that they praise him for leadership and they said that's one thing that's lacking across the entire political spectrum here in Israel right now. He was a man, they say, that was willing to make tough decisions.

And, John, Israelis, really, miss that characteristic. They want more leadership. They want more politicians willing to make really tough decisions -- John.

ROBERTS: Certainly, no question that Sharon was famous for making those tough decisions.

Conor Powell in Jerusalem at the Knesset for us this morning -- Conor, thanks so much.

For more on this and troubling new developments in the Middle East with a resurgent al Qaeda in Iraq, we turn to two key senators.

ROBERTS: From Oklahoma, James Inhofe, he is the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee and from Maryland this morning, Ben Cardin, the member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Senators, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday." Thanks so much for joining us. As we start off this segment, Senator Inhofe, why don't we start with you? Just your thoughts on the passing of Ariel Sharon?

SEN. JAMES INHOFE, R - OK: Well, mine are quite different, John. Because we had an unusual relationship. In fact, it was either written up in the "Jerusalem Times" that he and I on two occasions actually set down, spent an hour together and prayed together. Now that's an unusual relationship with someone. But it's one that was very genuine, very real. And I had a true love for him.

ROBERTS: Senator Cardin?

SEN. BEN CARDIN, D - MD: Well, Ariel Sharon was really one of the great military leaders of Israel since its -- since 1948 and I think more recently he was the one willing to take risk for peace in the Middle East. His leadership was invaluable for Israel's history and future. So I treasure the opportunities I had to meet with him when he was in Israel when I -- when he was in the United States and I was in Israel. But one of the great figures in Israel and really paved the way for, we hope, peace in the future.

ROBERTS: All right. Let's move on to Iraq where 13 more people were killed today in a couple of car bombings in the heart of Baghdad, Islamic extremists believed to be behind those. Senator Inhofe, on Thursday you tweeted "The issues in Iraq are threatening to undo all that our men and women in uniform have fought for as al Qaeda is resurging, taking over Fallujah and Ramadi again." Who is to blame here, Senator Inhofe?

INHOFE: Well, I'm not going to say who's to blame now. I'd rather look at how can we correct it? We tried very hard back when President Obama pulled out to get him to lead such things as surveillance, intelligence, logistics training, that's the type I think that we can do. We trained them already over that period of time and in Oklahoma, my 45th, we were very much involved in that. So they're great warriors. But you can't just leave them and not have the intelligence and the logistics there with them. So that's what we're encouraging them to do now. If you look at Anbar province, of the 4,486 men and women who have died, Americans, a third of them were in Anbar province. And that's right now looks like it has been taken over. It's one that we can reverse that with a little bit of the type of help that I'm suggesting.    ROBERTS: Senator Cardin, there's a lot of I told you so going on here. Senator McCain really is leading that charge. Is that justified? And what about the 2004 battle for Anbar province? All those Marines who fought so bravely and so many of whom lost their lives. Was that all for nothing?

CARDIN: Well, first of all, the Iraqis have to take responsibility for defending their own country. And the Iraqi government must respect the different ethnic communities within Iraq. And a good deal of the problems today is internal security and if the government that does not respect and try to bring together all the people of Iraq. Yes, there are extremists and there are terrorists and we need to work together to root that out. But I think the fundamental problem is whether the Iraqis will take responsibility for their own country.

ROBERTS: So Senator Inhofe, the White House says it's going to send hellfire missiles and other munitions to the Iraqi government. They haven't decided yet whether or not they're going to go after these militants in Fallujah and Ramadi. But outside of supplying them with arms, is there anything else the United States can do? The White House has ruled out sending U.S. forces back.

INHOFE: Oh, yeah, John. As I mentioned, the intelligence and logistics. Those are the things that they need to have to back them up. Now, I'm glad that the president is not reversing a previous decision and is willing to sell them. They have money they can buy some of our equipment, some of our arms, F-16s, for example. But they've got to be trained to fly them. So, training is a very important part. Look, I was over in Fallujah during the time, I remember the fingerprints and all of that. These people are risking their lives for their freedom. And I think that, you know, I think that they're going to be pulling out. They do need our help. We don't want boots on the ground. I know Ben doesn't either. But we do want to share our intelligence, logistics and training with them.

ROBERTS: Let me move on to a couple of other topics we are going to -- want to discuss today. Benghazi coming up, but also the new Robert Gates book called "Duty." Senator Cardin, he paints a fairly unflattering portrait of the White House and President Obama's respect or lack of it for the military. He is suspicious of military leaders and saying that when it came to certain elements of the war in Afghanistan, the president just wanted to disown it and get out. To you, are the former secretary of defense's observations credible?

CARDIN: Well, John, first of all, Secretary Gates is well respected for the service to his country, particularly as Secretary of Defense. It's very interesting in his book, he gives high praise to President Obama making decisive decisions. And just about every decision he made, Secretary Gates agreed with. So the bottom line was that there was more harmony than you would think the headlines on the critique of his book. The one area where he talked about the frank discussion that's took place in the White House, that's President Obama. I think that's good that he welcomes diverse opinions. I think it's unfortunate we now see it in the book. It looks like in an effort to make a book more popular on the newsstands.    ROBERTS: Senator Inhofe, you said late last week that you were not a fan of Robert Gates. But you're becoming one now.

INHOFE: That's right. Well, first of all, to me the most revealing thing was the exchange that Hillary Clinton and Obama had when they each one admitted to the other one that during the surge in Iraq both of them had their decisions made through a political -- from political motivation. And I think that was really revealing. And to me, that draws a distinction. Because you know, Bob Gates was also in that position under Republican.

ROBERTS: Did you think, Senator that that hurts her if she decided to seek the presidency in 2016?

INHOFE: Yeah, I do. I do. I think that for her to say that she -- of course, she may deny it. I haven't heard any response from her. The fact that I haven't heard anything from her leads me to believe she probably won't. But to have the politically motivated to make those very significant decisions, I think is going to be very damaging to her.

ROBERTS: Senator Cardin, do you agree?

CARDIN: No. This is the type of talk that after the fact President Obama was opposed to us entering the war in Iraq as I was opposed to it. Secretary Clinton as a senator voted for that. I think they were talking about the primary elections where issues get talked about, but I don't think anyone questions the sincerity of Secretary Clinton. In fact, Secretary Gates was extremely complimentary of the role that Secretary Clinton played as Secretary of State.

ROBERTS: Senator Inhofe, Gates did ...


ROBERTS: Go ahead.

INHOFE: Ben is right. That was during the primary and the primary at that time looked like it was going to be between Obama and Hillary. And both of them agreed that they made the political decisions. I think it's going to come back and hurt her.

ROBERTS: Senator Inhofe, Bob Gates also said that Vice President Joe Biden has been wrong on every foreign policy issue for the last four decades. You served with him in the U.S. Senate as a colleague for a number of years. Do you think that Bob Gates is correct on that point?

INHOFE: Well, you know, he's a real gracious person. I had a long conversation with the vice president the other day when I had a loss in my family. And we talked for over an hour. Now I have debated him in years past on foreign issues where I have disagreed with him. And so I don't say -- I can't say that he's been wrong on everything. But I disagreed with him on most things.    ROBERTS: Right. And Senator Cardin, this is certainly not unusual, not unprecedented for administration officials, former administration officials to write scathing tell-all books while the administration still holds office. But in this case Bob Gates, do you argue at all with the timing of the release of this book?

CARDIN: Well, I do. I mean I think there is some question here. And I think candid discussions with the president are important. I think reading about it in a book can only harm those types of discussions in the future. In regards to Vice President Biden, I served with Vice President Biden, I still do. He is still the president of the Senate. So he is -- his views are widely respected in the United States Senate among the people in Washington. I think about a new start and ability of getting that agreement with Russia, we would not have gotten it, but with the hard work of Vice President Biden. So he's been a trusted adviser and a person who I think is very solid on these issues.

ROBERTS: In the couple of minutes we have left, I'd like to turn to Benghazi. Of course, the State Department designated Ansar al- Sharia and some of his subordinates in Libya as terrorist organizations, also the man Khattala who is believed to be the mastermind behind the attack in the consulate there in Benghazi. Senator Inhofe, you took particular issue with "The New York Times" article, which said that there was no al Qaeda connection between the attack on the consulate and al Qaeda. What do you say about that?

INHOFE: Well, it was clearly the attack particularly in the annex, it was clearly an organized terrorist attack. There is no question about that. In fact, Obama's own CIA Director John Brennan used the word unequivocal, it's unequivocal. It was a terrorist attack. The same thing with the National Intelligence Director James Clapper. These are both appointees in answer to the president. They said it was a terrorist attack and so did Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. So I think the top three advisers on military and foreign -- you know that the president knew that right after the annex took place. And, yet, he sent Susan Rice to the Sunday shows including the one we're on right now to tell the American people something that just wasn't true to try to keep this issue of the problems of organized terrorist activity subverted.

ROBERTS: Senator Cardin, is there any question in your mind that there was an al Qaeda connection to one of the attacks in Benghazi if not the consulate then at least the annex as Senator Inhofe suggested?

CARDIN: In my focus is to use what happened in Benghazi to make sure that we keep our personnel and our embassies as safe as we possibly can.

ROBERTS: Understood. But do you -- understood. But do you believe there was an Al Qaeda connection there with the attack?

CARDIN: You know, there's been a lot of studies that have been done. I think there were multiple factors. It wasn't just one episode that took place in Benghazi. It was in different places. I think it's more complicated than just one connection.  

ROBERTS: But do you believe that there was some Al Qaeda involvement

CARDIN: I know that there was extremist involvement. Who they were associated with, is a matter that I'm not quite clear on.

ROBERTS: All right. Senator Ben Cardin, Senator ...



INHOFE: They were very specific about Ansar al-Sharia being there and, of course, he is a well-known organizer of terrorist activity.

ROBERTS: Sure. We have got to go, gentlemen. Thanks so much.

INHOFE: I think that's going to go down as -- thank you.

ROBERTS: All right. Thank you. The talk of the town in Washington this week certainly are the revelations the former Defense Secretary Robert Gates new memoir. And just a day after the public got a preview of his bashing of Vice President Joe Biden, we also got a photo op of the president and the vice president at their weekly lunch. The White House granted the press rare access to the normally private affair. Sunday panel returns for a look at the White House on defense next.



JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He also wrote as I mattered earlier bout all the decisions president made -- President Obama made on Afghanistan, "I believe Obama was right in each of these decisions." He also says, I believe the president cared deeply about the troops and their families. I never doubted Obama's support for the troops. And I think that's a sentiment that we all recognize to be true.


ROBERTS: The White House Press Secretary Jay Carney doing his best to highlight the positive in the bombshell tell all book from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. And we're back again with the panel. Gates did say I never doubted Obama's support for the troops, only his support for their mission. But Bob, you wrote a detailed lengthy article about the book earlier this week. Your thoughts.

BOB WOODWARD, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, he really goes after Obama in a very direct way. But there's the other side and he's trying to have it both ways. He says nice things about the president. The question really is did the president do good job in developing his strategy for Afghanistan? And I wrote a book on it and spent a couple of years looking at the minutia of it and the meetings and the notes and the documents. And you make a case that the president did a very good job. He said we're getting out. He shifted the strategy. Bob Gates who is very critical of the president at times signed up for all of that. And as Jay Carney said, he said I agree with that. But it's a fascinating story because it's so emotional. Gates says he was under stress. He hated the job. He gave a portrait of his life. He's very unusual. He said he would go home at night and write condolence letters, pour himself a stiff drink, have carry out or a frozen dinner and then read something and go to bed and then get up at 5:00 a.m. and run around the Lincoln Memorial and say to Abe Lincoln, how could you do it? How could you take it?

ROBERTS: Just writing those condolence letters has got to be unbelievably stressful. You know, George, this is a defense secretary who on the outside was stoic, always very composed. Yet, the book paints a picture of a complete contrast of a man who was completely seething on the inside, could barely contain himself.

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Deeply reticent man, such as Mr. Gates, at last speaks. It's worth listening to. And what's being -- getting all the attention in Washington is the (inaudible) edge of the book that he says about certain people still in office. But what struck me most is what Bob talks about. This is deeply humane book by a man who signs the deployment orders that sends people over there. 3800 of whom died on his watch and he felt it. Now he does criticize the president about not believing in the Afghan policy. We're about to enter the sixth year of the Obama presidency and the 13th year of the war there. Who does believe again nation building? Obama inherited mission -- mission gallop that already occurred, and we have gone from counter-terrorism to counter insurgency to nation building. The president didn't believe in it. He inherited the war. And you go on war with the army you've got and you fight (ph) the war you inherited.

ROBERTS: One official that he did take direct aim at is Vice President Joe Biden. He says in the book, "I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades." The White House's immediate response was to allow the press corps into the weekly private luncheon between the president and the vice president. And I covered President Bush for nearly six years and I can't remember one time that we were invited in to take pictures of him and Dick Cheney saying, we're OK.

ROVE: Yeah. One photograph will not sponge off the mistakes of 40 years. And I think this was a simple statement of fact. I mean even inside the Obama administration, Biden is depicted as being on the wrong side of virtually every major policy decision that President Obama makes on foreign policy. I want to return to one question -- one point, though about if the -- if President Obama did not believe in his own policy, the surge in Afghanistan, you can see it by his decisions. His decisions to send the troops there on a slow schedule and to bring them back literally in the middle of the fighting season in order to have an impact on the 2012 election. He wanted to be able to say I'm bringing our boys home even in the middle of the fighting season in 2012. What's interesting to me is that some of -- some Gates insiders have told me this book was essentially ready before the 2012 election. And Gates made a deliberate decision to delay its publication until well after the election so as not to have these incendiary charges intruding into the election. I think that is a statement about his character. But it also says something about President Obama that he once having made this courageous decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan did not follow-through in a way that you would have anticipated, but instead used their presence in the country for political purpose by bringing them home premature.

ROBERTS: Juan, how do you think the president comes off? Are there enough contradictions in this book that he comes out pretty well?

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I put up political framework on it. And I don't think that anybody who's a supporter of President Obama. In fact, I don't think even Republicans given that most Republicans think it's not worth us being there are going to say oh, gee, this president is really a bad guy because he had doubts about his strategy. The argument is if you have any doubts, why would you send men and women to die? That is the point of criticism. And I think that all commanders-in-chief have to make difficult calls here. And I think that the critics maybe step a little bit too far in asking us to believe that, oh, no, you can't make a decision unless you believe you're going to have thorough (ph) going immediate success.

WOODWARD: But just a correction on a point. It was President Obama, Karl, who said we're going to accelerate the deployment of the surge. And the record clearly shows that he did that and his plan to say we're going to begin the drawdown in about 18 months was OK'd by everyone including Bob Gates very enthusiastically. Now what Gates is doing here is reading between the lines about, you know, body language and the kind of inner Obama and the inner Obama doesn't like war.

ROVE: Well, and the inner Obama went out. When the military said we need this many troops to do the mission, he gave them considerably less.

WOODWARD: And Bob Gates' recommendation. That is Gates' number.

ROVE: And, again, I repeat. He called people out in the middle of the fighting season. If he really didn't believe in the policy, if he didn't think it was important to inflict maximum damage on the Taliban and extremist elements and then why did we even have the surge to begin with?

ROBERTS: George, there is 30 seconds left. Where do you think the biggest impact of it is going to fall?

WILL: I think it will fall on the general assessment of the Obama presidency. That is -- and particularly the statements of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama saying that they opposed the Iraq war surge for purely political reasons.

ROBERTS: We've got to take a break here. But when we come back, more on the legacy of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. Stay with us.


ROBERTS: A live look now inside the Knesset in Jerusalem as the body of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon who passed away at the age of 85 lies-in-state. The body will travel later today to his ranch in southern Israel. And we're back now with a little bonus time with our panel. And gentleman, I would in the remaining time that we have like to get your thoughts on Ariel Sharon. George, do you want to start this off?

WILL: Well, in 1999, I guess, when George W. Bush was running for president and visited Israel and Sharon took him up in a helicopter over the Latrun Salient where before the '67 war Israel was about nine miles away. George Bush came home and said we have driveways longer than that in Texas. Sharon had made his point, which was that Israel was not defensible in the '67 borders. And that said, it is possible that he would have wanted a somewhat bigger, but more compact Israel. The idea that he would preside over the disengagement from Gaza does not mean he would have provided a comprehensive (inaudible) settlements. Bigger Israel, but more compact.

ROBERTS: Karl, you spent a number of years at the White House dealing with Sharon. I know President Bush in appreciation for it also had (inaudible).

ROVE: Yes, but they were close friends. And close friends can speak candidly to each other. I think the thing that bonded them together was his recognition that both were fervent advocates of the existence of the state of Israel and Bush appreciated that Sharon had a strategy and the strategy was where possible disengage the Jewish state from the Palestinian people to create a defensible stable secure Israel that could live in peace with its neighbors. And he depended upon the United States to play the role that it did under Bush, which was to say Arafat was not a partner with whom progress could be made and that the Palestinians had to (inaudible) terrorism and violence and actually accept the existence of Israel. He was a remarkable human being.

WOODWARD: I think he was kind of a Dughall-like figure in Israel. Somebody who defined the nation during certain periods, did a lot of strong things, made some mistakes. What I found interesting during the Reagan years when he was defense minister in Israel, he would come to the United States, meet with Bill Casey, the CIA director, and he would persuaded Casey and President Reagan to sign a top secret funding to give $10 million to warlords in Lebanon that he wanted to deal with. So his influence wasn't just in Israel. It was in this country.

ROBERTS: And why some people are making the point that when Israel buries Ariel Sharon they may be burying the last strong leader who could actually forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

WILLIAMS: This is an interesting point. So, that, if you -- what's required for that perception is the idea that he was so strong in Israel that no one would doubt his love of Israel and his capacity therefore to say to critics, this is the best deal that I can get and this is what is necessary to keep us safe and vital. The contrary perspective, John, is this is a guy who said I was used to negotiate with the Palestinians, I don't think it's worth my time to negotiate with the Palestinians at a time when people around the world were looking for some settlement, some sort of peace. They saw some of that when he was saying I'm going to give some of Gaza back. I'm willing to talk. He antagonized people in the Israeli settlements who felt that he had betrayed them. But the question was, why would he openly engage with the Palestinians? And I think that's why you have seen such reluctance from world leaders even now about going to the funeral. This is not going to be Nelson Mandela's funeral.

ROVE: He did engage with the Palestinians. It was starting with the Akoma (ph) meeting in 2003. Let one other -- just final note about him. This is the last man who led Israel who fought in the 1948 war. And in Israel, this is a seismic moment. There is a generational pass, much like we had when the greatest generation left the leadership of our country and was succeeded by the babyboomers. So, now, will Israel face a new future with a new generation.

ROBERTS: Great to see you all. Thanks so much for being with us this Sunday. We really appreciate it. That's it for today. I hope you have a great week and we will see you again next "Fox News Sunday."

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