This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 2, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight: Did you hear what former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld said? Well, he slammed President Obama. Rumsfeld said Obama made a bald misstatement. Would that be a polite way to say "lie"? Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld has been lying low, but not anymore.
Secretary Rumsfeld released a blunt statement today saying in part, "In his speech to the nation last night, President Obama claimed that commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban but these reinforcements did not arrive. Such a bald misstatement, at least as it pertains to the period I served as secretary of defense, deserves a response. I'm not aware of a single request of that nature between 2001 and 2006. If any such requests occurred, repeated or not, the White House should promptly make them public."
So what does the White House say?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, ABC NEWS: The president said commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive. I assume you're referring to the McKiernan requests throughout 2008.
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I -- that's I believe what the speech -- the line in the speech -- I will let Secretary Rumsfeld explain to you and to others whether he thinks the effort in Afghanistan was sufficiently resourced during his tenure as secretary of defense.
TAPPER: Well, he says...
GIBBS: I think that that's a -- something that -- you know...
TAPPER: He said he's not aware of a single request of that nature between 2001 and 2006, when he was secretary of defense.
GIBBS: Again, I'll let him explain to the American public whether he believes that the effort in Afghanistan during 2001 to 2006 was appropriately resourced. You -- you know...
TAPPER: Well, what do you...
GIBBS: You go to war with the secretary of defense you have, Jake.
TAPPER: The question, though, is what specifically was President Obama talking about when he said that.
GIBBS: Again, what President Obama was talking about...
TAPPER: The whole war?
GIBBS: ... were additional resource requests that came in during 2008, which we've discussed in here.
GIBBS: But Jake, again, I'll leave it to the secretary of defense from 2001 to 2006 to discuss the level of resourcing for that, understanding the level of commitment that we already had dedicated in Iraq, and whether or not he feels sufficient that history will judge the resourcing decisions that he made during that time period in the war in Afghanistan were or were not sufficient.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I think it's pretty clear Secretary Rumsfeld did not like at least one part of President Obama's speech. What does former vice president Dan Quayle think? He went "On the Record."
VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Vice President, last night, President Obama addressed the nation about Afghanistan. What did you think of his speech?
DAN QUAYLE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought it was a solid speech. This was a very tough decision for him. Even though he campaigned that this was the right war and the war in Iraq was the war of choice, his constituency in the Democratic Party on the left is very much opposed to this. He took his time, many think probably too much time, and I'm sort of in that camp, but he made a thorough review. He escalated in March and he escalated again last night.
He was talking to a lot of different people in the speech, but the bottom line is, is that he defined Afghanistan within our national security interests, and he's going to do what is necessary to protect our interests and he believes that the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops is in that national security interest.
VAN SUSTEREN: When you say...
QUAYLE: He sounded very much like a president. I was a little surprised that he chose West Point to be the venue of the speech, rather than the Oval Office. But it was a solid speech. The only qualification I would put on it was that timeline. I'm not exactly sure what that meant exactly because there were a lot of qualifications around it. We'll find out as time goes on.
VAN SUSTEREN: You used the word "constituency" and being a tough speech as a result. For the issue of war, isn't that really sort of the one issue where we sort of leave constituents behind and we -- and a president should step back, and you know, constituents be damned, so to speak, is what -- really what the right decision at the right time?
QUAYLE: That's exactly the case and that's the point. But there's been a lot of politics, particularly in this administration. Many people noted -- and I did, too, a little bit -- you know, how comfortable, how committed was he? I'm not going to read the body language. He made the statement. He's given the order to the Pentagon, who will give the order to the generals. The troops will be deployed.
And this is a tough situation. In my view, it's tougher than Iraq. Let's put it in perspective. Iraq at one time was actually a functioning government. It's a real state. Afghanistan is not Iraq. It's tribal. It's got a different -- a number of different sects, never really had a solid government there running the country on any kind of a continuing basis. And he indicated nation-building. Well, to rebuild the nation of Afghanistan is going to be more difficult than rebuilding the nation of Iraq.
And the reason that Afghanistan is so important to us is because of Pakistan, which is right there. And hopefully, he'll be able to take on the Taliban. Hopefully, he'll -- Karzai government will be cooperative, and we can see somewhat -- I don't think you'll ever get a real stable Afghanistan, but a somewhat stable Afghanistan, and then we can begin to extricate ourselves from this conflict.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, in light of the complexity of it and how it's tribal, it's not like Iraq where they did have a government that was functioning at one time, does he set himself up when he gives a timeline, or a projected or aspirational timeline for withdrawing? Because this is so profoundly more difficult in terms of trying to sort out the corruption and sort out the solution.
QUAYLE: No, you're right. I didn't like the timeline. It was a little bit of a throwaway line to try to appease his constituency on the left. He's trying to have it both ways, which presidents do in all matters. But he did qualify that timeline. The headlines in the -- some of the newspapers was that withdrawal would begin in 2011. I'm not sure that's going to happen. I really don't think that will happen because the full deployment is going to take at least I think 12 months to get them all over there. And then, you know, shortly thereafter, we're going to begin withdrawing?
But it was really a constituency on the left, saying, Hey, guys, I have an exit strategy. My own preference, I don't think he should have put it in, but I'm not overly concerned that he did. I understand why, and I think the world does, too. The world was looking to this speech to see how committed he was. He made the speech on the national security interests of the United States of America, and he wants help from the allies, and I hope NATO, you know, ponies up on this. He wants help from the Karzai government. They've got to help. But he did it primarily for the right reason, and that is it is in our interests to have a stable Afghanistan, and he believes and the generals believe this is the best way to go.
VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of stabilizing Afghanistan, our goal, to the extent that we stabilize it, and we run the risk of pushing the problems south into Pakistan, we desperately need Pakistan's help. How do we get that? They say they're going to help us, but how do we really get the help of Pakistan?
QUAYLE: From Pakistan. That's the -- that's a difficult question. As you well know, they're going through some political maneuvers right now, where the president is shifting some of the military responsibility to the prime minister. There's allegations against the president. You know, Pakistan is -- always seems to have a lot of political complexities and political challenges.
But Pakistan is important, you know, for a number of reasons. Primarily, it is a nuclear power. And if, in fact, al Qaeda and Taliban, which are in Pakistan and causing a lot of tragedies and deaths in Pakistan -- if they would ever somehow have real influence and control of that government, then we really have a problem.
You think Iran is going to be a problem if they get a nuclear weapon, you put the -- Pakistan in the hands of radical Islam Taliban/al Qaeda, you have a huge problem. You know, India's right there, a nuclear power. China's right there, is a nuclear power. This is a very, very difficult situation.
And I think in the back of President Obama's mind, and I know this is in the briefing papers, that that was really a talking point on why we had to be in Afghanistan was because of Pakistan.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know why it's so troubling, though, is because, you know, we've been successful in many parts of the world by giving aid and showing that Americans are generous people, Americans want to help, but we just gave $7.5 billion -- or committed $7.5 billion to Pakistan, and we did have strings attached. We want to know where it goes. And the Pakistanis were insulted. They were -- many of them were outraged. How could you Americans give us money with strings attached? And so it almost backfired. So that didn't help us.
QUAYLE: I'm not -- I'm not sure I believe all of that. The fact is, we've always been giving aid to Pakistan for as long as I can remember because it's a, you know, very important country. It was a very important country when the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan. It's a very important country in the whole proliferation issue. It's a very important country vis-a-vis the China, India, Pakistan triangle there.
I'm sure some people said it was insulting, but you know, we do give aid. We are generous. We -- almost all the aid that we give, there are certain conditions. And with Pakistan, I can recall when I was in the -- in the Senate, from time to time, aid was actually cut off from Pakistan because of the lack of human rights and the military control of that country. I think we're in a much better position today, and I hope it continues that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Up next, more with Vice President Quayle. What about health care? Would he cross party lines and vote for the health care bill? And does former vice president Dan Quayle miss Washington? Now, we were surprised by his answer. That's next.
VAN SUSTEREN: More with former vice president Dan Quayle.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you make of what's going on with the health care bill in the U.S. Senate?
QUAYLE: My guess is they'll probably get something, and they're going to have something that maybe they can call it the public option, maybe they can't call it the public option. I don't think anybody really knows.
When it came out of the Senate Finance Committee, as you know, then Reid took a couple of weeks to put together a bill that is now on the floor being debated. I mean, there's a possibility that it never gets out of the Senate. But I think that there's a strong interest, particularly on the Democrats -- particularly with the Democrats in the Senate and Congress to get something through, just move the process on. It's going to be fairly challenging.
I think, looking back on it, the one mistake that they'll -- that they'll recognize is they really never made any attempt to bring Republicans in. They worked with Olympia Snowe on the committee, to Max Baucus's credit. He tried -- he did work there and he got her vote. That was the only attempt, and it was a very small attempt to get bipartisan support. And when you into major pieces of legislation like this, whether it's health care reform or immigration reform or reforming the environment or energy, substantive major changes, you usually have to have bipartisan support.
And this time, they let the Democrats in the Congress basically write the bill. The administration sort of took a hands-off position. And if you let the Congress and the Democrats in the Congress write the bill, there's such a partisan atmosphere up there, it's very difficult for them, unfortunately, to reach across the party lines and do it the way it should be done and the way it's normally done, and that is bipartisanship. You will see bipartisanship on the support for the increasing funding for the war in Afghanistan.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you see if -- if -- do you see if -- from what we know of the bill -- and I realize it's going to go through some amendments, possibly, and a lot of changes, and it's got to be reconciled -- but is this bill headed in a direction that a Senator Quayle would be inclined to support it or not?
QUAYLE: No. From what I know, you've got the public option, a government-run health care system, at least opening the door to a full- throttled government-run health care situation is the wrong way to go. You're increasing taxes. You're increasing regulation. You're increasing health insurance premiums.
There are -- and the one thing that it doesn't deal with, which is just amazing, is tort reform. I mean, that is -- everyone in the health care industry, whether you're a doctor or other kind of provider, or whatever the situation could be, tort reform has to be part of it if you want to hold down costs. And the two things that I would be focusing on is holding down costs and to increase the amount of people that have health care. Those are the two goals. And you can't hold down costs in any kind of credible, legitimate way without dealing with tort reform.
And the Democrats in the Congress are so beholden to the trial lawyers, they couldn't even try it because if that would have possibly gotten some bipartisan support if they would have gotten serious about that one issue. And I guarantee you -- I don't know what the polls are, but I bet you 75 percent of the American people would support some tort reform to hold down costs in health care.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, do you miss the vice presidency or the U.S. Senate, or are you glad to be out of here?
QUAYLE: No, I miss it. I'll be -- I'll be very candid with you. It's fulfilling. You know, when you're there, particularly as vice president, helping the president make decisions to run the country and run the world, you miss that. And you miss the Senate. But I enjoy what I'm doing. I have a very good life in the business community, primarily. I do a little bit of politics, but not much. I've been with the service (ph) now for almost 10 years. So I enjoy it a lot. But do I miss it? Of course I do. Who wouldn't?
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you miss about it, though? I mean, because, I mean, it is -- I mean, it's such a hornets' nest here. You know, people at each other's throats and struggling and fighting and -- you know, what part do you miss?
QUAYLE: Well, the atmosphere is more partisan. There's probably more bickering and not a willingness to be collegial and try to get things done. But I miss the debate. I miss the discussion of policies. I miss making decisions and helping the president make the decisions that have a humongous impact.
I mean, when I was vice president, you know, to see that Berlin wall come down and see the Soviet Union begin to disintegrate and Eastern and Central Europe achieve democracy and freedom, and apartheid eliminated in South Africa, and jobs being created in the United States -- I mean, I was right there with George Bush, and it was a great four years. And I wish we would have had another four years, but the American people thought otherwise.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Vice President, it's always nice to see you, sir. I hope you'll come back soon.
QUAYLE: I will. Thank you.
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