GOP steps up efforts to warn voters about Democrat-controlled Congress

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys," on September 23, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "The Beltway Boys" Saturday at 6 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. ET and Sunday at 2:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. ET.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: I'm Fred Barnes.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: And I'm Mort Kondracke. We're "The Beltway Boys."

BARNES: And the hot story is "Big Guns." I'm not talking about Howitzers; I'm talking about the big guns of politics. TV ads all over the place, campaigns really going into high gear with speeches by politicians, particularly President Bush, on the road with his whole entourage. That certainly creates a stir. Now, for Republicans, fighting terror will be the biggest single issue. I mean, you read that piece in "The Wall Street Journal" by Ken Mehlman, the Republican chairman. That's - that's what he dwelled on. But it is not the only issue. There are others. I mean, for instance, there's that hearty perennial, taxes, which President Bush brought up in Tampa just a couple days ago. Watch.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If they get control of the House of Representatives, they'll raise your taxes and it'll hurt our economy. And that's why we're not going to let him get control of the House of Representatives.


BARNES: See how comfortable he was when we were raising that issue again? Another issue that Republicans think they can use effectively is immigration. You know, the House passed that bill to create a 700-mile wall along our southern border. It goes to the Senate this coming week. And so they're going to say that, Look, we're the people who are really protecting the border. And Democrats aren't. Well, I'm going to - I'm going to show you this ad that's being run by Republican Mac Collins in Georgia, running for a seat now held by Democrat Jim Marshall. But notice which Democrat he mentions in this ad on immigration. Watch.


ANNOUNCER: Illegal immigration's out of control. Liberal Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi says amnesty is the answer. She'll reward illegal aliens with welfare, food stamps and free education. How do we stop her? Elect Mac Collins.


BARNES: He didn't even mention his - his real opponent in Georgia. Now in a - and a - you know, we're going to have - remember all that - that ton of ads we had in 2004 by And remember how lousy they were? The production values were terrible. Well, they've gotten at least better on production values. Watch this.


ANNOUNCER: They said there was a connection between 9/11 and Iraq. But there wasn't. They said the war in Iraq would make us safer. But it hasn't. They said they would destroy al-Qaeda. But they haven't. Republican leaders exploited 9/11 to mislead is into a war with Iraq. Are they going to get away with exploiting 9/11 to win re-election? Not on your life.


BARNES: Mort, why was that man whispering?

KONDRACKE: You were meant to be afraid. Very afraid.


KONDRACKE: Well, let me just respond to those - to those bytes and ads. One, Democrats will try to raise taxes if you make over $200,000 a year, back to the - the Clinton levels for the - for the highest brackets. And as I - as I recall, we did pretty well during the 1990s under Clinton tax policy. Secondly, as to the Mac Collins ad, you know, he - Nancy Pelosi probably favors something called amnesty. But so does John McCain. And so does Bill Frist. And so does Arlen Specter. So, you know, he - that's a - that's a kind of a.

BARNES: Not to mention President Bush.

KONDRACKE: Not to mention President Bush. Nancy Pelosi is a rich target for the - the Republicans if they can make people understand who she is, where she comes from. I don't think most people know who Nancy Pelosi is. I know a lot of Democrats who are embarrassed or afraid that they will be embarrassed by a Speaker Nancy Pelosi, because she is from San Francisco and she - and she is pretty left on all issues. And as to the ad, the administration never said that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. However, there were terrorist groups that were active in Iraq, and it's been documented even in the - the mainstream media, as pointed out in a dynamite article in your magazine, The Weekly Standard, last week by Steve Hayes, which I really encourage everybody to read. It's a refutation of the main point in the Senate Intelligence Committee report that said that there were no terrorists in - in Iraq. Well, guess what? There were.

BARNES: You know, Mort, at the risk of your calling me - accusing me of piling on, I want to bring up Nancy Pelosi again. Because she said, I think - I'm going to be kind to call it the least astute thing that anybody has said during this campaign. Watch it.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif.: This is what, I guess, campaigns will be about - it shouldn't be about national security.


BARNES: Shouldn't be about national security? Look, campaigns are supposed to be about the most important issues America is facing in the world, both domestic and foreign. And - and so you - you obviously have to discuss national security. And just because it's not an issue that helps Democrats doesn't mean we shouldn't discuss it. Now Charlie Rangel - look, Charlie Rangel is going to be - the House member from Harlem - is going to be the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Mort, that is the tax-writing committee. He says, I want to get rid of all the Bush tax cuts. That means the Child Tax Credit. That means lowering the top rate from - that went down from 15 to 10. He'd go up - back up to 15. And here's the thing to remember: under Bush and his tax cuts, the tax burden - in other words, who's paying most of the taxes - has increased for people over $200,000, and decreased for people under $200,000, so particularly the lower, middle income, and the poor. If you reverse that, start raising taxes on people over $200,000, you're going to flip that, and the rich will pay less, and the poor will pay more.

KONDRACKE: Fred, we have huge deficits, and they've got to be closed somehow. And it involves raising taxes, and you're not going to raise - you're not going to raise taxes on poor people. Therefore, the people who can best afford to pay it should pay it. Anyway, now - and Nancy Pelosi, on - in principle, is right: national security, foreign policy and politics ought to stop at the water's edge, in the famous saying. It - it can't in this - in this election, clearly. And I think largely because the Democrats have tried to scuttle the president's national security terrorist surveillance program. And they advocate pulling out of Iraq, and Iraq is going badly, and it is a - it is an issue in the campaign. And the Democrats have made it one. So what - what she said was kind of disingenuous. Anyway, it's poll time. You knew that I would have to bring some up. Here is a rundown of the latest generic polls. That's, who would you vote for, Democrat or Republican, for - for the House of Representatives? You can see that the - the numbers vary widely. But the role - real - Real Clear Politics average is 8.4 percent. Now the Democratic experts that I've talked to say that they need seven. If it - if the national vote is 7 points larger for Democrats than it is for Republicans, they - they - the Democrats will take over the House, just barely.

BARNES: Yes. Republicans say you always have to subtract five for it - from it, because they're - they always trail in that in a way they shouldn't. So.

KONDRACKE: Anyway, our bottom-line predictions for the House and Senate stay the same as they were last week. In the House, I say Democrats pick up 16 seats, a one-seat majority. Fred says the Democrats get plus 12. And in the Senate, I say that the Democrats get plus 4. And Fred says the Democrats plus 3. And the Republicans will hang on to the Senate.

BARNES: Well, good for them.

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