Hot Stories for the Week of July 28- August 1

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This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, August 2, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think American people, now that they've realized I'm going to seek reelection, expect me to seek reelection. They expect me to actually do what candidates do.


FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Mort, hot story number one, cautious optimism. And, of course, Bush is not only cautiously optimistic about the economy, about Iraq, and about North Korea, he is downright cocky, you know, cautiously cocky, as you noticed in that, in that bite at the top of the show. And in this second one that you'll see when he's questioned in his White House press conference by Mike Allen of The Washington Post. Watch this.


MIKE ALLEN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Mr. President, with no opponent, how can you spend $170 million or more on your primary campaign?

BUSH: Just watch.


BARNES: Now, there was good news for the president this week on, on economic growth, on business investment in particular, which is tremendously important, because that's what was lacking and caused the recession earlier, and on, on joblessness going down some. And future economic prospects based on these numbers look bright, or, I would say, cautiously bright.

And then there's North Korea (search), in which Bush finally got his wish, and that is, the North Koreans are agreeing to a multiparty conference with China (search) and Japan (search) and South Korea (search) and so on, and not just the U.S. It was a good week for the president.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Yes. The latest FOX News poll shows that the president's job approval rating is holding firm at 59 percent, and 47 percent think he should be reelected, that reelect number being under 50 percent, I think, is less important than the…than his job approval. That's what...


KONDRACKE: ... everybody watches.

And, you know, the numbers, on the basis of numbers, he's doing pretty well. But the GN…GDP (search) growth rate was 2.4 percent, and David Kay, you know…the guy who's look, looking for weapons of mass destruction (search) in, in Iraq, sounded as though pretty soon we're going to find that there at least were programs going, which would erase a lot of the, the criticism of Bush.

Now, the, now, the, the problem for him is the jobless figure. I mean, it came down 0.2 percent, which is good, except…that's because about half a million people just quit looking for work. That's got to change for Bush to be home free.

KONDRACKE: The other hot story is Democratic divide. Howard Dean (search) is the buzz. As I described earlier in the week, he's sort of the Seabiscuit of the, of the Democratic race, come from nowhere and now...


KONDRACKE: ... now, now getting in the lead...

BARNES: Yes, he's not that benign.

KONDRACKE: Well, he's, well, he's…in any event, he's, you know, for Democrats, who loathe President Bush, he's, he's their hero, and that's the way he's, he's gotten there.

Now, this has caused…beginning to cause flak to, to descend upon him. Here's Howard Dean talking, and our guest later on, Evan Bayh, talking about Howard Dean and what his influence is.


HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are too many people in Washington, D.C., in our party who've been so afraid to lose that they keep silent. And we lose by keeping silent. We are not going to beat George Bush by being Bush lite...

SEN. EVAN BAYH,D-Ind.: And we have a fundamental choice to make as Democrats. Do we want to offer the American people a true choice about the direction of this country? Do we want to govern again? Or are we only going to vent our anger and pent-up frustration about what's been happening in Washington for too long?


KONDRACKE: In addition to, to Bayh, Joe Lieberman and John Kerry both attacked Dean this week for wanting to cut…to increase everybody's taxes, including, including the middle class. I, I think that this mix-up among the Democrats is a good thing, because it focuses attention on what they're for, what their various positions are, not just on their Bush-bashing.

BARNES: What was Dean talking about? Democrats in Washington silent? He ought to come to Washington some.


BARNES: They're certainly not silent. But they are their own worst enemy, and, you know, I'm, I'm sure you saw, I have in my hand this document, Mort, that is the analysis…a polling-plus analysis by Mark Penn, the pollster for the DLC. He was Clinton's pollster and so on.

And, and it shows some amazing things about Democrats and why they're in so much trouble. Party identification, in other words, the percentage of Americans who identify as Democrats, the lowest since the beginning of the New Deal.

Suburban voters who were swinging Democratic are now swinging back the other way. And then this security gap, where, when people are asked, you know, Do you feel on who does a better job on national security, so Republicans or Democrats? Democrats trail by 35 points.

I mean, that…and Mark Penn says Democrats must be strong on security to be heard on the economy. And the problem is, right now, their voice is not a strong one on security.

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