This is a rush transcript from "The Beltway Boys", October 6, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.
FRED BARNES, FOX CO-HOST: Coming up on ""The Beltway Boys", could social conservatives help the nominee Rudy Giuliani. We will tell you where it stands.
MORT KONDRACKE, FOX CO-HOST: He is behind in the polls and this quarter's fundraising. Is it panic time for Barack Obama?
BARNES: Clarence Thomas opens up old controversies with his new old book.
KONDRACKE: A key Senator retires; another one says he is staying.
BARNES: Beltway boys are next after the headlines.
BARNES: I'm Fred Barnes.
KONDRACKE: And I'm Mort Kondracke. We are "The Beltway Boys".
BARNES: Tonight's top story rumble on the right.
The rumblers are social conservatives. At some point, they were always going to rumble because they are unhappy with the read leading Republican candidates. Many of the social conservatives many of whom are conservative Christians got together in Salt Lake City and we have been hearing the humbles ever since that meeting because they are unhappy with the prospect of some of these nominees winning the nomination.
They have to be taken seriously. They represent a huge chunk of the Republican Party. They are an important block. Republicans can't live without them.
Here's what Jim Dobson of Focus on the Family one of the leading Christian conservatives said in the "New York Times," quote, "The secular news media has been reporting in recent months the conservative movement is hopelessly fractured and internally antagonistic. The near unanimity in Salt Lake City is evidence of much great harmony that supposed. If the major political parties decide to abandon conservative principles, the cohesion of pro-family advocates will be all too apparent in 2008."
He may be right about that. A lot of them are unhappy. They are unhappy. I don't doubt they are unhappy in the order of the candidates they are unhappy with. Rudy Giuliani is the one they are most unhappy with pro- choice on abortion and pro gay rights. John McCain they have never liked. They are mad at him because they don't like campaign finances reform and he opposed the federal marriage which would ban gay marriage. And finally Mitt Romney who neither was there already but mainly switched a position that they like on the marriage of, abortion, stem-cell research. They are a little queasy about him because he's a Mormon and many are evangelical Christians.
KONDRACKE: What this Salt Lake City group said was if Rudy Giuliani gets to be the Republican nominee they well might defect to a third party candidate who is pro-life. 20 percent of Republicans might go for this third party candidate if t Rudy was the third party nominee. Talk to do a member of this group a respected serious evangelical of the southern Baptist convention he said that he agreed with that 27 percent estimate. It's really serious.
Rudy Giuliani responds this way, that one that he would appoint judges like Scalia and Clarence Thomas conservatives to the bench.
Secondly, watch. Here's what he said, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Maybe people of faith can respect someone who is honest with them. With me you know what you are going to get. I explain who I am. I tell you who I am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KONDRACKE: When I asked Land about this notion his promise he would appoint conservative judges what Land said I wouldn't believe him even if he had been married only once. This is a man who promised two women he would love, honor and cherish him, he didn't keep his promise to either one. That's pretty heavy duty criticism.
I agree with his social if not family history. I got to say he is in trouble if the conservatives continue to feel this way.
BARNES: That is a tough view. Richard Land is very important. I am sorry I didn't call him this week. He certainly had something to say. Oddly enough, Rudy Giuliani, in a recent poll of churchgoers, Rudy has a lead. Thompson with 24 percent and McCain with 17 and Romney 9.
Here's what I think Rudy Giuliani would need to do this if he were the Republican nominee in order to hold the social conservatives in the party. If Hillary Clinton is the opposition that will hold a lot of them. If you want to get the rest he should say four things. One, that he recognizes that the Republican Party now for nearly 40 years has been a pro-life party.
Two, his personal views are abortion should be legal.
Three, that he would vow as president that he would not do anything that would increase the number of abortions or anything that would make abortions easy to contain.
And, four, he would not sign any bill that puts more limited restrictions on abortion. He wouldn't veto it either. He would let it go into effect by not signing it.
I think that would satisfy a lot of the social conservatives.
KONDRACKE: Moving on to the other candidates. James Dobson told the media Fred Thompson is not, quote-unquote, "Christian enough." I am paraphrasing, to be president.
Here is Fred Thompson's response to that. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED THOMPSON, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am not going to dance to anybody's tune. Somebody makes a charge like that against me doesn't know me who is supposed to be speaking for all people of faith or something like that. I am not going to run around and try to prove to people that he is wrong about me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KONDRACKE: Richard Land said he — Richard Land is satisfied with Fred Thompson's statements that he believes in God, he is a religious man, he is at peace with his God. And Land also said that Mitt Romney can get over his, quote-unquote, "Mormon problem with evangelicals," if he will make a speech laying out what his religious views are. But Land says he hasn't made the speech.
BARNES: I don't think Christian conservatives say they have the views on all conservatives. They reflect the views of ten's of millions of Americans. They ought to be taken seriously. One thing I think is indisputably true is this kind of turmoil over ideology is not restricted to the Republican Party. Can you image if the leading...
KONDRACKE: It is restricted. The Democrats don't have it because they are all...
BARNES: Wait a minute. Can you image for a moment if the leading or a top one of the leaders for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 happened to be a pro-liver. You would have half the party tearing their hair out. They would be going berserk. They would be talking third party heavily.
KONDRACKE: Just as the Republicans are. We have a split over abortion one is a pro-life the other is pro-choice.
BARNES: I think the chances of a third party being pivotal are denying the election that otherwise would have been won by a Republican. I think the chances are minimal.
KONDRACKE: We will see.
BARNES: Coming up, Barack Obama sinks further behind in the presidential race and a key president has an idea for the Iraq war impose new taxes. We will see what kinds of response that got on Capitol Hill, next.
KONDRACKE: Welcome back to "The Beltway Boys". Let's check the "Ups and Downs" for the week. Down: Barack Obama he's behind her in the polls and he is behind Hillary Clinton in fundraising. Hillary gave numbers the same day Obama gave a foreign policy speech. Obama thinks the Iraq war is winning against Mrs. Clinton. He is turning up the heat. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to ask those who voted for the war, how can you give the president a blank check and then act surprised when he cashes it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: That's a good question.
KONDRACKE: Yeah. Well, I think Obama's major problem is he is too fresh, too new on the scene to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. I think it's a fat fatal flaw in his campaign. He is in the Senate for three years and he wants somebody familiar to him. It has happened before he picked somebody that has never heard of him before. It's not frequent.
Hillary Clinton offers the opportunity for Democrats to pick somebody with experience and because she is a woman, represents significant social change and political change as well.
BARNES: And the big-time liberals.
KONDRACKE: What I think is fascinating is the question of whether if Obama does well against Hillary can she not take him not put him on the ticket as vice presidential running mate. The pressure from African- Americans will be enormous. She can beat him badly enough she doesn't have to take him and get somebody that can get a state that's in play.
BARNES: I doubt she will pick him. Obama is not strong a position as he thinks he is. When he famously came out against the war it was back in a time when the entire world believed Saddam Hussein in Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that he would probably be willing to use them himself or pass them around to terrorists. Barack Obama was against using the war at that point. I don't think that shows he is very strong on national security which he needs to be. That argument is not used in the Democratic primaries. It would be in an election.
Down: Democratic Congressman David Obey. The Appropriations chairman got the smack down from both sides of the aisle after proposing a new tax in order to fund the Iraq war. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DAVID OBEY, (D), APPROPRIATIONS CHAIRMAN: It will be a war surtax. It's a percentage of your tax bill. If you don't like the cost then shut down the war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: You know I never understand why David Obey stays in Congress. He always looks so unhappy. Actually sour. Yet there he is. Bush's tax cuts fueled the economy in such a way we are able to pay for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and war on terror while still reducing the deficit.
If David Obey we are worried about spending now borrowing money our children would have to be paying for it he would stop looting the Social Security Trust Fund of the surplus and spending that money now because our children will have to pick up the tab later. I never heard him advocate that.
KONDRACKE: The Democrats have not been in charge for the last six years. They are now. They're not looting the Treasury the way the Republicans have looted it.
BARNES: They were for four years and they looted it.
KONDRACKE: Obey is mischievous with the amendment. He thinks if you put forward a tax and make people pay for the war they will stop the war instead of funding it. On the merits, he is right. Here's what he said, quote, "Some people are being asked to pay with their lives or their faces or their hands or their arms or their legs. It doesn't seem too much to ask the average tax payer to pay 30 bucks for the cost of the war so we don't have to shove it of on our kids."
What the Republicans want to do primarily and everybody else as well is row t borrow the money and the kids will have to pay it back.
BARNES: Borrow money for all others things, too. Let's ask the troops in Iraq whether they want a tax increase or not. I bet they don't.
KONDRACKE: Coming up, Larry Craig says he is not going anywhere.
It has been 16 years but Clarence Thomas is unloading on the people who tried to derail his Supreme Court confirmation. More on that, next.
BARNES: Welcome back to "The Beltway Boys". We are continuing for the "Ups and Downs" for the week. Down: Larry Craig. Remember him? The Idaho Senator defiantly vowed to serve out the rest of his term this week despite losing a court attempt to rescind his guilty plea in a sex sting in Minnesota. Quote, "I will continue my effort to clear my name in the Senate Ethics Committee — something that is not possible if I am not serving in the Senate," unquote"
Craig repeatedly promised to step down on September 30th.
That's not the only problem either. Remember he initially called in September called Republican leader Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader for the Republicans, and said I am going to resign the next day. Well he didn't do that. Then he said I will resign by September 30th whether or not my effort to have my guilty plea overturned is decided on the. September 30th came he didn't resign then. Then he said if the judge doesn't over turn it, I will resign then. That's three. Now he's staying until his term runs out at the end of 2008. I have to say I am not surprised.
KONDRACKE: He thinks he can somehow restore his dignity if he finishes out his term. The problem is he has become a national joke. Every time you turn and television is making fun at him.
BARNES: New round on that.
KONDRACKE: Secondly, he's a huge embarrassment to his fellow Republicans.
Third, he faces the possibility of getting rebuked or reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee for bringing problems to the Senate. This is not going to be fun for him, even if he stays there.
Down: Senate Republicans for another reason. Their effort to take back the Senate suffered another set back when Republican Pete Domenici of New Mexico announced his retirement.
This makes eight seats that are vulnerable for the Republicans and only one in Louisiana who is at all vulnerable for the Democrats. There could be a big wave in the 2008 Senate race.
In New Mexico, the situation is on the Republican side there's likely to be quite a primary between Heather Wilson and Pierce. Heather Wilson is a moderate pierce is a conservative.
On the Democratic side everybody is wait to go see if Bill Richardson, if, when he doesn't get that Democratic nomination, decides to take the Senate seat. If he doesn't, Tom Udall is the likeliest candidate. If he were elected and Mark Udall gets elected in Colorado — he will be the Democratic nominee — you would have not two Udalls, but three if Gordon Smith of Oregon stays in the Senate. You would have three Udall family members at the same time.
BARNES: Gordon Smith is an Udall?
KONDRACKE: He is an Udall.
BARNES: You learn something every time. If they win all of these seats, then today they could win a majority of them they would get near a filibuster-proof Senate. If you went on most votes they could pick up one or two Republicans and get to 60 to make it filibuster proof. If you had a Democrat in the White House it would be bad for Republicans and for the country, too.
That's today. A lot can happen from now to a year from now.
KONDRACKE: It's never a straight line.
BARNES: I am not going to repeat that that's a cliché.
Clarence Thomas in his book "My Father's Son," the Supreme Court justice opens up over his famously controversial confrontation battle in 1991. Here he is on "Hannity & Colmes" earlier this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: To see the effort to destroy over ideological differences — somebody has this one issue that is so important we could kill you over, not kill you physically necessarily, but kill you as a person. That's iconoclast, to destroy your reputation, your character, your image. We don't care what we have to destroy to prevent you from getting to the court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: Thomas gave great interviews. There was one on "60 Minutes. It's amazing what they will do putting out a book — this is a memoir of his — and subject themselves to interviews on TV with other reporters. Stuff they would never do otherwise.
KONDRACKE: Well, he never speaks from the bench.
BARNES: I know. There's no reason for him to do it just to satisfy his critics. Some of the justices it's showboating when they do.
Now the truth is he has become a first rate justice. It's appalling the way he was treated in 1991 and I am glad to hear him fight back, even though it was 16 years ago.
Juan Williams has written the biography of Thurgood Marshall, the Supreme Court justice, who he said when he interviewed Marshall, Marshall was appalled at the treatment Thomas got, even though Marshall and Thomas' views judicial views were different.
KONDRACKE: Thomas comes across as an angry man. He has a lot to be angry about. The Democrats — if he did what Anita Hill says he did it was a petty act of sexual harassment. The Democrats treated it as though it were attempted rape or child abuse or something like that. I don't know who is telling the truth. For the life of me I cannot parse it out. You could argue it one way or another.
BARNES: I never believed her.
"The Buzz" is up next. Don't move a muscle.
BARNES: What's "The Buzz"?
KONDRACKE: Fred Thompson is not exactly lighting fires as a Republican presidential candidate. He is slipping in the national polls. He's third in Iowa and 4th in New Hampshire. He was at the Teddy Forceman (ph) Think Fest in Aspen, Colorado, the other day and he bombed. And he was asked the softball question about race and al he could think to answer was talk about how his family he used to sell used cars to blacks.
BARNES: That doesn't sound like he is taking off like a rocket. On the other hand, he is hanging in there. He's number 2 in the polls.
You talked earlier about what Bill Richardson might do if he doesn't win the presidential nomination to run for the Senate from Utah from New Mexico. Obviously, Santa Fe is not a big enough stage for him. He'll want to be in Washington.
I checked. The filing deadline is February 12th in New Mexico. February 5th is the last big day in the presidential primary, so he will have a week to decide and file. I bet he does, which will make it tough for Tom Udall
That's all for the beltway boy this is week. Join us next week when the boys will be back in town.
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