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Special Report

All-Star Panel: Obama punting immigration until after midterms?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," September 2, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest a little vague on the timing of some action by the president today, but it's now believed that the White House will hold off on any executive order until after the midterm elections. Why? Because of vulnerable Democrats in some Senate races, including Kay Hagan, Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu, and Mark Begich, all of whom have weighed in on this issue. A.B.?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, they got through to the White House, and the White House has actually changed its mind on whether or not this was going to be a real boon to get out the Latino vote for Democrats in this election. It turned out it might have helped Senator Udall in Colorado. But that would not have made up for -- it would have been overwhelmed by the backlash that it would have produced. You know, if there was no border crisis that we now know President Obama had ignored for two years, if there was no ISIS, you could imagine this might be something that energized Democrats. But people who support comprehensive immigration reform don't like -- after this border crisis -- how out of control it got, the idea of the president going over the Congress. We're looking at a global threat to our national security and he's talking about picking a giant political fight? They basically just relayed it was going to be political suicide, and they listened.

BAIER: Let's just quickly tick through these Real Clear Politics average of polls in these states, the key ones. North Carolina first, Kay Hagan trailing by a point in the latest RCP average there. You have Alaska, you have a five-point lead or a little bit less for the incumbent, Mark Begich.  New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen with a lead over Scott Brown. Obviously, that's not definitive. His primary is September 9th. But a lot of people putting him on the comparison. Colorado, as A.B. mentioned, Udall ahead barely. That could turn on Hispanic vote, really the only state in this list that could. Arkansas, Cotton up by a little bit less than two. And Louisiana, you see Cassidy up by one over incumbent Mary Landrieu. OK, Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the private polling Republicans have is a little bit more favorable to Republicans. It depends on how you screen. But having said that, look, I think there's no question that what the president did he did because of politics. And when he stands up in front of the country and says have no doubt I will act soon, every time he says, "have no doubt," I'm inclined to really have quite a few doubts.

BAIER: Have doubt?

HAYES: Have a few doubts, right. In effect, he said he was going to act soon and the politics weren't going to be at play. And we now know he's probably not going act soon, and that the politics is the reason.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, I think A.B. is right that the losses the Democrats would incur if Obama were to act unilaterally would overwhelm the gains he would make in a few states.

BAIER: Because of independents, who are polled against this.

KRAUTHAMMER: Right, A, because of the policy, and, B, it would enormously energize conservatives and others who simply have respect for the Constitution. It would be the most egregious way for him to usurp the powers of Congress, legalizing millions of illegal aliens that everybody understands is the job of Congress and not of the president added on to all the other raids on the prerogatives of the other branches. So I think this imperial presidency idea would hurt him as well as people who would object on the basis of the policy.

STODDARD: I think it would look irresponsible, like I said, in light of our national security issue. But in the case of the Shaheen-Brown race, Brown was down by 12 and started attacking Jeanne Shaheen, the incumbent, on this issue, and has closed the gap with that issue alone. And so they had evidence that it was going to harm the candidates.

BAIER: But of the states, Colorado really being the only one in the list where maybe moves the needle the other way?

HAYES: Right, I think that's exactly right. But, look, Republicans should pound Democrats on this issue. The president has made clear what he intends to do eventually. The question is whether Democratic candidates would support him when he does it.

KRAUTHAMMER: And the crisis at the border actually shifted radically public opinion on this. It was a slam-dunk Democratic issue. It isn't anymore.

BAIER: That's it for the panel. But stay tuned for an uplifting story, how about that, after a very difficult news day.

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