Election politics heat up ahead of 2016

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," September 14, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the United States of America today, there is massive injustice in terms of income and wealth inequality because almost all of that wealth and income is going to the top one percent.

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And you see these guys make these enormous amounts of money. It's a total and complete joke. But you'll take a company like, I could say Macy's or many other companies where they put in their friends as the head of the company, and they get whatever they want, you know, because the friends love sitting on the board. So that's a system that we have, and it's a shame, and it's disgraceful.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Two different candidates, two different parties, one similar kind of message over the weekend. And today, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, this as some new polls came out. The Washington Post/ABC poll out nationally has, on the GOP side, Donald Trump again surging to the top, 33 percent support, with Dr. Ben Carson at 20 percent. If you add up all the rest of the candidates, they don't equal the top two.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has seen major slippage here. In fact, one-third of her support has disappeared since July. The biggest drop in this poll came among women.

So let's start with the Democrats and bring in our panel, and syndicated columnist George Will, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. George, before we begin, I'm talking about politics.

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: This is we all worked for Scott Walker?

BAIER: But we're starting with the Democrats.

WILL: Well, Bernie Sanders is a curious case. If there is a federal truth on labeling agency they ought to look at this man. He says he's an outsider. Outside of what? For all but I think 16 months since 1981 he has been in elected office, so he's a professional politician. Outside of the Democratic Party, he says I'm an independent, I'm a Democrat. He caucuses with the Democrats. He gets his committee assignments from the Democrats, he votes with the Democrats, and he's seeking the nomination of, guess what, the Democratic Party.

Then he says he's a socialist. No, no, Mr. Corbyn in London, that's a socialist. He wants the government to own the commanding heights of the economy. Mr. Sanders is called a socialist because he believes in what everybody votes for every year when they vote for a budget, the entitlement structure of the United States. I don't get the whole outsider shtick he's doing.

BAIER: A.B., he went, as you look at that video, to Liberty University, Clinton Foundation Liberty University. This is what he said about the founders of our country today.


SANDERS: And I would also say that as a nation, the truth is, that a nation which in many ways was created -- and I'm sorry to have to say this -- from way back on racist principles, that's a fact, we have come a long way as a nation.


BAIER: It went on to a prolonged soliloquy there about race relations in the country. What about Bernie Sanders and his ability to, one -- well, first of all, the speech at Liberty, and, two, reach out to the African-American caucus and voter in the Democratic Party?

A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: Well, it's so interesting, because when he started, I think he wanted to make a case and build a movement and be a part of the debate, shift the nominee towards his thinking and his priorities. He's somewhat astounded by his rapid rise, his enormous crowds, his energy, his lack of super PAC support, the fact that his engine just keeps on building and going.

And what he's doing is he learned within a few months he had a largely sort of hyper-educated, white, progressive following, and he was not going to challenge Hillary with certain constituencies, including African-Americans with whom she was much stronger, and women. And there was a gender gap there.

Now what's happening is he's taking -- you know, he loves to tell hard truths about, you know, race relations, anyway, but now he's actually going to tough audiences. He's expanded his outreach to African-American Democrats pretty aggressively, and he's going to places like Liberty to try to show Democrats it's not so crazy to think of me as the nominee.

BAIER: Hillary Clinton, a third of her support gone since July, Charles, and a big drop in women.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: If I could tell you a word, first, about Sanders, I agree it's good for Sanders to go out to address racial issues since he has never been identified with it and his audience are lily white. But you don't cure that by going to Liberty University. If you want to reach out to African-Americans, you go to black churches, you go to a lot of other places. That isn't exactly the right place to go.

And I think the reason he's rising is because he isn't an outsider in the sense that he's a non-politician, but he's completely insignificant. He's been in the Senate. Has anybody ever mentioned him until now? Has he achieved anything? Has he passed the bill? Has he made a speech in a quarter century? No. He's been sitting there as the sort of lone socialist.

But what he's doing now is he's criticizing this idea of inequality. It's a great idea if you're the opposing party. His party, the Democrats, Obama has been in office for seven years. They own the economy. The idea that you're running against inequality, the white middle class, the whole middle class is being held back, nobody is advancing, it's all stacked against you, well, they've had the power for seven years and done nothing. So only a man who has been inconsequential out there I think in the back benches is a man who can make that case. Hillary tries to but it sounds hollow.

BAIER: Let me just play Hillary Clinton today talking about her position in the polls.


HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't have an issue whatsoever in having a really good, strong contest for the Democratic nomination. And he's doing a great job.

I am not one of those who ever thought this was going to be a straight shot. I've been in and around enough campaigns to know there is an ebb and flow. Polls go up and down.


BAIER: Ebb and flow.

KRAUTHAMMER: You know, sometimes when you see another politician you say to yourself, what would Trump say if he were in that position? Would they say I really never expected to go like this, hurling insults, and saying of course I'm going to win, et cetera, et cetera?

Look, it's the authenticity problem. She doesn't mean a word of that. You know she doesn't, so skip the question and go on to something else.

BAIER: All right, next the GOP side. Carly Fiorina has seen her polls increase slowly. She had a bit of dustup with Donald Trump after that "Rolling Stone" interview in which he referenced her fact. She came out with a new ad today.




FIORINA: Note to Democrat party -- we are not a special interest group, we are the majority of the nation.


FIORINA: This is the face of a 61-year-old woman. I am proud of every year and every wrinkle.



BAIER: Does that work, George?

WILL: I think it does. I think she has a real gift for the counterpunch, and that's something that Donald Trump being a native puncher and somewhat of a bully, is not used to. It's nice to see him get punched around by a woman.

But if you accept the fact that it's unlikely that the American people, or that the Republican Party is going to nominate someone who has never held an elected office before, something they rarely do and haven't done since Eisenhower, who was a world historic figure before he became president, then you look at that poll we had up there and the leader is George Bush at eight and the worst person in the poll at one percent is only seven points behind the leader. So in this very strange year you have to look at the most plausible and the least plausible, and it sorts itself out in a different way.

STODDARD: I think that Carly Fiorina is uniquely positioned because she is an outsider with Trump and with Carson. But she's much more -- she is an extremely savvy candidate. And I think her response, her comeback, which took advantage of her appeal to women, she never mentioned Trump, she could show she was quick thinking. I mean, she turned this around right away over the weekend. She reminded them they were majority of the nation. She's -- I'm very curious to see how she behaves in this debate on Wednesday, because she's a very, very strong candidate.

BAIER: Trump continues to dominate. Tonight he's in Dallas with thousands and thousands turning out.

KRAUTHAMMER: I hate to not answer a second question, but did you notice in that ad how odd it is and clever? She took a punch, or a counterpunch, and she hit Hillary square in the face. That was not an ad against Trump, or at least it wasn't framed as against Trump. Of course he occasioned it. But it was at Democrats who weren't the ones who said look at that face. It establishes her as a female counterpart to Hillary and anyone who believes if you want to elect a woman you have to elect Hillary. But I think it's a really clever ad, and then she starts somewhere. She jujitsu-ed Trump right into Hillary. That's not easy to do.

BAIER: All right, call an audible here. You can just do your own panel if you want.


BAIER: We can do that here.

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