France and Britain Duke It Out To Be America's Closest Ally

This is a rush transcript from "The Big Story With John Gibson and Heather Nauert," November 13, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HEATHER NAUERT, CO-HOST: To the big showdown now between Britain and France to be America's BFF. If you haven't noticed, the new leader of France has been trying to seduce the United States lately, in an attempt to rekindle the romance that faded with the previous administration, and the United Kingdom is now getting jealous.

JOHN GIBSON, CO-HOST: Britain has always been dubbed our closest ally but our relationship has been changing, so France is making its move but Britain is saying not so fast. "Big Story" correspondent Douglas Kennedy has more on the escalating war overseas for America's affection.

DOUGLAS KENNEDY, BIG STORY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this all started when Tony Blair left office. Britain's new prime minister decided to distance himself from America, trying to gain popularity in England. But some say he didn't realize England could be replaced.



KENNEDY (voice-over): France is America's friend because of World War II.


SARKOZY TRANSLATOR (VOICE OVER): The French and the American people have always been friends.


KENNEDY: Britain, because of our shared history.

GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I believe that our ties with America, founded on values we share, constitute our most important bilateral relationship.

KENNEDY: Now, the leaders of the two European countries are engaged in a cross tunnel challenge over who is actually America's best buddy. Sara Baxter is from the "Times of London" and she says Britain's prime minister can't believe he has lost his place at the top table.

SARA BAXTER, "TIMES OF LONDON": And to his horror, he has found that Nicolas Sarkozy presenting some tough competition as America's best friend.

KENNEDY: In recent years, Britain has been the obvious choice of closest country, being the first ally to sign on to both wars in Iraq, but some say Gordon Brown threw cold water on the so-called "special relationship" in his first days in office, so as not to be dubbed Bush's poodle as was Tony Blair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very bad for Britain when it isn't America's best friend and I'm sure Brown feels peeved by this.

KENNEDY: And while Brown is getting peeved, France's new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, is getting more cozy with America, last week pounding the president with French love at a White House dinner.

NICOLAS SARKOZY, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): France and the United States are allies, have been allies and will continue to be allies and have been so forever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the Republic of France.

KENNEDY: And even wowing Congress with even more amorous overtures reminding members of France's support of our Revolutionary War as well as America's support for Charles de Gaulle and the resistance.

CHARLES DE GAULLE, FORMER FRENCH PRESIDENT: Long live the United States of America!


SARKOZY TRANSLATOR (VOICE OVER): Long live Franco-American friendship.

KENNEDY: It is a far cry from when members of Congress changed their French fries to "freedom fries" in the House cafeteria to protest France's lack of support for the war in Iraq. And Baxter says it now has Britain's Brown playing catch-up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the ways in which Britain considers itself to be a leader in Europe is by being a bridge between America and continental Europe, and all of a sudden, Sarkozy is offering to be that bridge.


KENNEDY: And Sarkozy is also using all the right rhetoric. He wants to stop a nuclear Iran and he is also talking very tough on terrorism, so it's not bad, John and Heather, to at least have a choice.

NAUERT: OK, so Douglas, now we have the French, the Germans and the Brits all vying for our affections. What do the Democrats say about this now?

KENNEDY: What do the Democrats say about this? I imagine — what do you mean?

NAUERT: Well the Democrats said that if we go to war in Iraq that we would lose all our support among Europe, and things weren't so good for a while, but now they love us.

KENNEDY: I don't know if they said we would lose all our support among Europe.

NAUERT: Pretty much. John?

KENNEDY: I imagine there are...

NAUERT: You wrote a book about this.

KENNEDY: ...lots of Republicans and Democrats who are glad to have France back on the good guys' side, but the real question is John, are you going to add a new chapter to your book claiming credit for changing France's...

GIBSON: We'll see what happens with the Iran.


GIBSON: Then we'll talk.


GIBSON: Douglas Kennedy.

NAUERT: Douglas, thanks.

GIBSON: Douglas, thanks.

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