This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," July 27, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

ANDREW NAPOLITANO, GUEST HOST: In Wednesday's political smackdown, why the race for 2008 — wait a minute. Isn't it just 2005? Yes, but the race for 2008 could be hurting President Bush right now. The commander-in-chief has had his struggles in his second term, such as Social Security and his pick to be the United Nations ambassador.

Could it be because at least 10, count them, 10 U.S. senators are already working for his job?

Let's ask Republican strategist Terry Holt. He's a former senior adviser to the Republican National Committee. And we're also joined by Democratic strategist and my good buddy Bob Beckel, who is also a FOX News political analyst.

So, Beckel, do you buy this theory that, because these 10 senators, five Republicans, five Democrats, want his job — and it's open and notorious as to who they are — he can't get anything done?

BOB BECKEL, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it has a lot to do with it, actually, Judge. It's true.

Look, in part there are two reasons for this. One is that the race for president now starts a lot earlier than it used to, the front-loading of all these primaries and caucuses and so, basically, by next year, you're going to have these candidates out running. And, secondly, for the first time that I can remember, since 1964, probably, the Republicans don't have a front-runner for president.

You have a vice president who is not going to run. And, normally, you have a vice president who is considered the front-runner. So here you have got the Republicans with nobody clearly in charge, and that means everybody is going to be talking.

NAPOLITANO: All right, Terry...



HOLT: Yes. Go ahead, Judge.

NAPOLITANO: Explain to me the nuts and bolts. How does the fact that five Republicans and five Democrats in the Senate want to be president prevent George W. Bush from getting Social Security and John Bolton (search) confirmed?

HOLT: Well, actually, I'm not sure that it does.

I mean, let's face it. Any time you're dealing with the United States Senate, you're dealing with a whole body of folks who have national ambitions. It's a jumping-off point to run for president. But it's not without its dangers as well. We saw in John Kerry's candidacy last year the fact that he was a United States senator was like an anchor around his leg. Remember the "I voted for it before I voted against it"?


HOLT: On the funds for the war.

It's a tough place to run from, because you have such a full record. You have voted on nearly every public policy issue that's been put on the table in, say, in most of these cases over the last 20 years. But I think, you know, out of those 10, there's only one that really matters, and that's Hillary Clinton (search). She's definitely doing the triangulating among that group. She is the prohibitive favorite in the Democratic primary process. And I think everybody is really watching her more than anybody else.

NAPOLITANO: Does Hillary Clinton prevent the president from getting Social Security reform through the Senate, Beckel?

BECKEL: Well, I mean, if she does, it's an awfully weak case, isn't it? I mean, Terry talks about Hillary Clinton.

Well, the last I looked, there was George Allen and there was Hagel and there was McCain and there was a bunch of these Republican wannabes. And they're out there. One of the reasons that he can't get these things through, Judge, is George Bush poses no political threat to these people now. He's not going to be on the ballot with them again.

And so, to separate themselves from Bush in bad times is not such a bad political move. And you are going to see these guys running like scalded dogs when it comes to something that is unpopular.


NAPOLITANO: All right.

HOLT: Well, you know, I would just say...

NAPOLITANO: Go ahead, Terry.

HOLT: ... that, in this case, you know, you have the convenient straw man element to this. Whenever there is a sitting president, there's an opportunity for people to compare themselves to that president. And, in this case, I think that is what's happening. But let's not fool ourselves. McCain is McCain. He's going to be who he is, whether it's for the president or against it. You're going to hear about it. And so, I don't look for the same sort of maneuvering and manipulation on the Republican side as we see on the Democratic side.


NAPOLITANO: Terry, how about...


NAPOLITANO: Wait a minute, Bob. Wait a minute.


NAPOLITANO: Terry, how about former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (search)? He doesn't have to worry about a Senate record drawing him down. He has cooperated with the president, gave one of the best speeches at the convention here last summer.

HOLT: That's right.

NAPOLITANO: Isn't he a frontrunner who is hardly dragging the president down?

HOLT: Well, he's a legitimate national candidate. And I'll tell you, that is what is required in the modern presidential campaign. You need that name I.D. and you need that national fund-raising base out there if you are going to compete. You cannot very easily come out of Senate, a small state like Delaware for Joe Biden (search). It's tough to get that national recognition.

Rudy Giuliani has that. The only question about Rudy is, can he appeal to the Republican conservative base out there, because he is more moderate on a number of the key issues?


NAPOLITANO: Hey, Bob, if Rudy got the nomination — Bob Beckel — if Rudy Giuliani got the nomination, he's the Republican you guys would fear the most, right?

BECKEL: You know something? You know something, Judge?

Talking with you on television is like — it must have been like it was in a courtroom. You cannot get a word in here, because you always control things.


NAPOLITANO: You get the last word.

BECKEL: And one thing, Terry, have you noticed this was about senators when we started this segment? He got back to Rudy Giuliani right when he wanted to get there.

HOLT: New Yorkers. It's going to be a New York president.

BECKEL: And this is the judge making Rudy Giuliani the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, because he loves him. And Giuliani loves the Judge. And so we've just seen our first basically Giuliani boomlet here.

And yes, you're right, Judge. Giuliani would be a very difficult — whatever you want me to say. Yes, he'd be tough.


HOLT: We would be — we would do a lot worse. We could do a lot worse.



BECKEL: You're right. You're right. He would be tough.

NAPOLITANO: Bob Beckel, thanks. Thanks for the smackdown. We'll have you guys back.


NAPOLITANO: It's always a pleasure.

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