Is the Jeb Bush campaign sputtering?

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," August 25, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


MARTIN O'MALLEY, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I mean, what have we come to as a party that we are so poor that we can't afford to have more than one debate in Iowa and one debate in New Hampshire before the primary? It's outrageous. And people in our own party aren't going to stand for this sort of meddling and limiting of debate that the DNC is trying to engage in. I should say some in the DNC. I think most DNC members also think this is a really, really bad idea.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Martin O'Malley talking about debates, the lack of them on the Democratic side, as we get more talk about Vice President Biden getting in this race, and a new poll out of New Hampshire from PPP, the Democratic- leaning polling organization, that has Bernie Sanders up seven points on Hillary Clinton. This comes after a different poll, "The Boston Herald,"
poll had him up six.

We'll start with the Democrats and bring in our panel, syndicated columnist George Will, Julie Pace, White House correspondent for the Associated Press, and editor in chief of LifeZette, Laura Ingraham. OK, Laura, Democrats in turmoil, what about this?

LAURA INGRAHAM, LIFEZETTE.COM: I think this Hillary Clinton free fall is just, I didn't predict it. I think the Clintons are like, sorry, the cockroaches after a nuclear holocaust. They always survive no matter what the scandal is. They can figure out a way around it.

Now you get this sense the opinion about all this is solidifying. And serious people of serious mind sets are basically saying, as Mike Mukasey, former attorney general, said on my radio show today, she's in serious jeopardy, legal jeopardy on anticipatory obstruction of justice. You don't just have destroyed evidence in an investigation. If you anticipate that there could be an investigation down the road and you destroy evidence, you put yourself in big legal jeopardy. I think this is serious and I think the voters are now getting that maybe the next Clinton term isn't going to happen after all.

BAIER: After the White House yesterday, Julie, came out so forcefully for Vice President Biden, it seemed to change the dynamic a little bit, the tone.

JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: It was pretty fascinating because we've had these questions come up at the White House briefing for several months now. It wasn't the first time they had been asked about Vice President Biden considering running for president.
And you almost expected them to be more muted in their response. Instead you had this very forceful not quite endorsement, but very forceful comments that were favorable for Joe Biden. I think the fact the press secretary said the president could endorse in the Democratic Party didn't sit well with people in the Clinton camp. They have cleared the way for Joe Biden to run if he wants to, certainly.

BAIER: George, take a listen to John Podesta responding to a question on PBS about possibly Vice President Biden getting in.


JOHN PODESTA, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: If he does run, we will -- that will be a good debate inside the party. But I think that he's going to make that personal decision himself. But the reason I support Hillary is because I think she's the best person, most able to do the job. I have tremendous admiration for him, but it's a personal decision about do you want to get out there, offer yourself up, take the knocks. They're always coming. Whoever the nominee is, eventually they get around to you.


BAIER: So the Clinton people saying the knocks are coming. If he gets in they're coming.

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It sounds as though they think it's more than just possible but probable at this point.

You showed the poll with Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders is fun, particularly if you're in politics, as activists are, for the fun of it. And "fun" is not the word that springs to mind when you look at the Clinton campaign, a kind of plodding, sullen, joyless pursuit of joy. And at this point, he, Bernie Sanders, could be what Gene McCarthy was to Lyndon Johnson. He demonstrated Lyndon Johnson's vulnerability in the New Hampshire primary. And Bobby Kennedy said, oh, come to think about it, I might do this instead.

It's particularly damaging and threatening, I think, to Mrs. Clinton because Biden contrasts so vividly with her. He is ebullient. He is happy. He's a cheerful, happy warrior. And he's fun. And the contrast is deadly.

BAIER: George, a lot of people on the Republican side say a certain candidate is fun, Donald Trump. South Carolina, Monmouth poll has come out, 30 percent for Donald Trump, Ben Carson 15 percent, Jeb Bush nine percent. You can see the rest out of South Carolina. Look at Lindsey Graham at four percent, his home state. Look at PPP in New Hampshire, again that same Democratic-leaning poll. But Donald Trump at 35 percent. Now, there are some people obviously according to these polls who think Donald Trump is fun.

WILL: I think he is fun for a lot of people because he's naughty, and there are no consequences to anything he says. And he'll say anything.

I would point out with regard to poll numbers, in June, 1992, five months before the election, the year advanced from where we are, the Gallup poll showed Bill Clinton at 25 percent, the incumbent president of the United States George Herbert Walker Bush at 31 percent, and at 39 percent, leading the field easily, was Ross Perot. Then the serious moment came around when the American people said we're not sending a message to Washington, we're sending a president, and Perot evaporated.

BAIER: Laura?

INGRAHAM: He still got 18 percent of the vote.

WILL: And zero electoral votes.

INGRAHAM: Right. But Republicans also lost the election, obviously, so that was devastating.

I wonder what would this race look like if Jeb Bush weren't in the race, because I think right now it's like a death match between Bush and Trump.

BAIER: Every day it's this antagonist going back and forth.

INGRAHAM: Yes, the back and forth. And I think a lot of these other candidates who are strong, have current relevance to the fights of the day, the struggles of the day for conservatives especially, and yet they're really not getting all that much oxygen here.

So there have been a lot of people writing Trump should drop out. He's not going to drop out. He's already said that, in the polls, he's not going to drop out. But you look at a guy who has $120 million, and Jeb Bush is a really nice person. I think he was a really strong governor at Florida. But that was a long time ago.

And Chris Christie came on my radio show today, and he said he's not relevant to today, about Bush. Now, you think of someone like a Walker or a Christie or a Kasich or even Rubio or Cruz, they've really been in the struggles. Jeb hasn't been. And these problems down at the border yesterday, the New York Times said in a span of 15 minutes he offended Asians, conservatives, helped Trump, and really seriously hurt his campaign. That's quite an accomplishment for 15 minutes at the border.
But at least he spoke Spanish.

BAIER: We talk about, Julie, the Clinton campaign sputtering. Is the Bush campaign sputtering?

PACE: It's having a difficult summer. I mean, to Laura's point, what you saw at the border with Jeb Bush was problematic on a lot of levels. He's pitching himself as a candidate who is steep in policy, wants to talk about nuanced policy. He went to the border to talk about immigration. I don't think there was much coverage of his actual immigration policies so he lost that moment.

He thinks now that by going after Trump, getting into these head-to- head battles that he's going to be the one that's going to out Trump for what he really is. That doesn't seem to be working at this point. And the anchor babies comment, when he brought Asians into the equation, I think it was just befuddling to a lot of people. It didn't really make a lot of sense why he felt the need to volunteer that. So I think --

BAIER: I think he's filled with a lot of stats. I think the numbers are 60,000 Asians come over to have babies.

PACE: But when you're trying to move the conversation toward you actual what you say is the nuanced policy, that's probably not the best way to do it.

BAIER: Last word.

WILL: We don't do nuance at this time of year in this country.

BAIER: It's summer.

WILL: That's right.

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