All-Star Panel: Setting the stage for a Bush vs. Clinton rematch?

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 7, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


FORMER GOV. JEB BUSH, R - FL: And it turns out that not running has generated more interest than if I said I was running. It's kind of weird. I'm not that smart. I promise you it wasn't -- it just kind of happened that way. And so I go about my business each day trying to avoid having to think about it. I've got a lot of work to do, and I have a fulfilled life, and at some point, pretty -- you know, maybe a year from now --


BUSH: End of the year I'll make a decision.


BAIER: Former governor of Florida Jeb Bush talking to our own Shannon Bream over the weekend about his plans and whether he will decide -- when he will decide, he said by the end of year, about running for president.

Take a look at the latest polls, the Real Clear Politics average in the GOP, and you see, obviously this is very early, but you see that Rand Paul is up there, Mike Huckabee, and then Jeb Bush at 11.5 percent over Chris Christie.

Take a listen to Governor Bush on the issue of immigration.


BUSH: Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony. It's kind of a -- it's a -- it's an act of love. It's an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime that should be -- there should be a price paid, but it shouldn't be -- it shouldn't rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families. And the idea that we're not going to fix this but with comprehensive reform ends up trapping these people when they could make a great contribution for their own families but also for us.


BAIER: Let's start off talking about Jeb Bush. Let's bring in our panel tonight, Jason Riley, editorial board member of The Wall Street Journal, Charles Lane, opinion writer for the Washington Post, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Jason, your thoughts about Jeb Bush, and he's getting a lot of attention.

JASON RILEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Sure. I think right now Jeb Bush is sort of Chris Christie without the bridge scandal. He's a moderate Republican who can raise a ton of money who's got some issues with the base of the party. And I don't think those issues are really the biggest variant, at least what I heard from that interview. What I heard from that interview and some say he doesn't want to get into the mud. And I think that more than any of the issues, immigration, or Common Core could be a bigger problem with regard to the base. I think they are looking for someone who wants to get into the mud. Remember, they were upset for McCain for not going after Jeremiah Wright. They were upset with Romney over the Bain attacks and him not pushing back much harder.

I think the Republican – the conservative Republicans are looking for someone who is willing to fight, who wants a fight. And if Jeb Bush is saying I don't want to get in the mud, I want to keep it clean, I want to stay up here, I think they might see a whiff of elitism there, and that could be a big problem.

BAIER: Well, here's how he phrases it, Chuck. Take a listen to this, optimistic.


BUSH: I think we need to have that kind of optimistic sense again. But when we grew up, we were told that this was the greatest country on the face of the earth, and we believed it. And I think America needs to have that more hopeful, optimistic feeling again.


BAIER: A lot of people say that might be just rosy talk. But he wants to, he says, run a campaign, if he runs it, in an optimistic way.

CHARLES LANE, EDITORIAL WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I'm sure it will start out optimistic and positive and bright. And then when the opponents start attacking him, it will get a little more negative. That's the way these things go.

I think Jeb Bush is a very formidable candidate on paper, two-term governor of Florida. He did a lot of things to reform the state's teacher tenure system. Obviously, all the things Jason said are true. He's an establishment figure. He can raise a lot of money. And of course, he comes from a great political family.

But when you really get into the actual Bush candidacy and this changed Republican Party, very different from what it was like when he was last governor, in I guess the end of 2006, 2007 -- I'm not sure it works. And you see right there in those poll numbers you show, he's right in the middle of the pack. He's not breaking out. He's not leading.

BAIER: No one really is.

LANE: But he's behind a guy like Rand Paul, and Rand Paul was not even a factor, as I say, the last time Jeb Bush sort of held office. If he ran, he would not be anointed. He would really have to work for this, and I think some of the things he said on immigration will not go down well in some of the early primary states like South Carolina and Iowa and indeed could come back to haunt him. As candid as he was being, those are not popular things to say in Republican primary.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: If he was feeling any optimism before that interview, I think it's gone away after the interview. And I don't think it's a matter of fire in the belly and will he be tough enough or mean enough on the Democrats. That statement he made about illegal immigrants being an act of love is kind of bizarre. I grant him the complete sincerity and honesty of his view. He's always had that kind of approach, but that's leading with your chin.

After all, there are millions of people around the world equally compassionate about the future of their children who are waiting patiently and legally in line and who love their children no less, and yet there is supposed to be this special compassion for those who jump the fence and break the law. Secondly, there's a question of if it were just one person and your opinion about it, or one family who jumped the fence, it wouldn't be a national issue, but it's 11 million. And then it becomes a national issue, an issue of sovereignty, and the president has to make a statement that an elementary principle of sovereignty is we control who comes into the country. I believe in immigration, but I believe that we set the parameters and the criteria for who gets in, and not to blithely say, well, you know, a lot of people want to get in and that should be a good thing. If we're ever going to have a solution to the immigration problem, and I believe in legalization, it will only happen when a Republican stands up and says, yes, we will legalize, but we're not going to get swindled like Reagan in '86 with a promise of closing the borders. You close the border, you prevent the compassionate parents who want to better the lives of their children but who want to jump the fence, and then you legalize the 11 million who are here.    

BAIER: So getting in, does he get in?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think there will be a reaction against this particular issue. I think he will, but I don't' think he's going to be as well received as he hopes.

BAIER: Quickly, I want to go down the row, as you take a look at the latest polls about the Democratic Party race and Hillary Clinton where she stands over potential rivals. Obviously, Elizabeth Warren has said she's not going to run. But the sitting vice president sits at about 12 percent, Jason. There's a number of piece that the field in the Democratic side is essentially on hold waiting for this decision.

RILEY: And the longer she waits to make up her mind the more she hurts her party if she doesn't run because it's difficult for people to raise money, and that's what is generally done this time in the cycle, people out there trying to raise money, but it's hard to get money out of donors if people know or think that Hillary might be running. I think her rivals are hoping, make up your mind, either get in or get out and let us get on with things, because the longer she keeps things in flux here the more damage she's doing to her party.

BAIER: A lot of speeches in a short time.

LANE: Yeah well, that's how you make money when you're out of office these days. I almost had a feeling reading some of these stories where people are saying we're all frozen until you make your decision. They all seem to be sourced to Democrats as if these Democrats are trying to push her. It's all the hope they have is that they can somehow push here into declaring her intentions. One of our guys who is pushing hardest is our Governor O'Malley here in Maryland. And he's been turned down by fundraisers for that very reason.

KRAUTHAMMER: In the absence of a medical issue that's a major issue, she will run. The Clintons have a biological need to run and to govern. And unless there's a biological obstacle, she runs.

BAIER: Next up, arguments over a congressional report on torture and outrage over the word "emotional."

Content and Programming Copyright 2014 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.