This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", Nov. 6, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The campaign over, Americans are expecting a bipartisan effort and the results. I’ll reach out to everyone who shares our goals. And I’m eager to start the work ahead.
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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: I’m Mort Kondracke.
FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: And I’m Fred Barnes, and we’re “The Beltway Boys”.
And the hot story is, the M-word, which I obviously mean mandate (search). And in that 3-point landslide that Bush won, I think he’s got a mandate. And what is a mandate? A mandate is just that you won by talking about certain issues, and you will pursue them afterwards. That’s what he’s going to do. And, and that’s what he said, just the other day on Thursday after the election. Watch.
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BUSH: You asked, do I feel free? Let me put it to you this way. I earned capital in the campaign, political capital (search). And now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That’s what happened in, after the 2000 election. I earned some capital. I’ve earned capital in this election, and I’m going to spend it for, for what I’m, what I’ve told the people I’d spend it on, which is, you’ve heard the agenda, Social Security and tax reform, moving this economy forward, education, fighting and winning the war on terror.
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BARNES: I think he’s going to do it. He is a risk taker. And, and he’ll follow through on it.
Now, I want to mention one other letter, R, the R-word ... my favorite word.
KONDRACKE: Why am I not surprised?
BARNES: Realignment. You know, Republicans, the realigning election was in 1994, huge election where they won the House and the Senate. And they have kept that. But Bush has had two realigning elections, 20002, and this one, where they picked up seats in the Senate and House, where they’re now very strong, and they have a majority of the governorships, including Matt Blount (search), Roy Blount’s son, getting elected in Missouri. They have a plurality of the state legislatures. And they’ve kept this durable majority in the House and the Senate.
So realignment, Mort, is real.
KONDRACKE: Yes. Well, it, this was, this was a historic election. This is the first time that a president since 1936 has, has picked up seats in two consecutive elections, that’s true. But the Republicans do not rule the way the Democrats ruled from the ‘30s to the ‘60s, you know.
BARNES: Yes, and I didn’t claim they had, yes.
KONDRACKE: Well, OK, all right, I mean, it’s as you say, parity plus.
BARNES: Yes, right.
KONDRACKE: It’s not dominance. And this was a reasonably close election, 3, 3 million votes, 3, 3 percent. Now, on the, on the issues of jobs and, and the economy, Kerry carried the majority just as Bush did on the moral issues, by about the same amount. And on Iraq, Kerry, the voters preferred Kerry. On terrorism, they prefer Bush.
I think the difference was on these character issues. You asked people on every single one of them -- who’s a strong leader? Who knows what he wants to do? Who has a clear idea? Who’s honest and trustworthy? On those questions, presidential leadership questions, Bush went 70, 30, 80, 20.
KONDRACKE: And, and Bush, people want a leader, and Bush intends to lead. That’s how he interprets this election.
So let’s take a look at what President Bush wants to get done in a second term.
First on the agenda, Iraq and Afghanistan and other emerging democracies.
BARNES: Yes, well, obviously, the first thing is Fallujah. It looks like they’re about to move there. It is the thing that has to be done prior to the election in January, so you can really to knock out that breeding ground and staging point for the terrorists. Once that’s done, and I think they’ll be successful, Iraq will move toward an election, and, and, and I think we’re going to see next year tangible success toward a democratic Iraq, a stable, democratic Iraq.
KONDRACKE: I hope so. Now, look, the, the question is, once the, the U.S. Marines and the Iraqis clean out this rats’ nest of terrorists in Fallujah, can the Iraqi military hold it? And will the, will the Sunnis say, OK, it’s over, we want these terrorists out of here or they’re going to have to keep up with the resistance?
OK, item two, Social Security reform (search). I mean, this is a big test of the Democrats. I mean, younger workers really like the idea of Social Security reform. They want a, they, they’re used to 401k plans. If the Democrats stick with the, with the old New Deal idea that you’re not going to have private savings accounts, I think they’re going to lose in the long run.
BARNES: Yes, no, this is something Bush has campaigned on in two elections now, 2000 and 2004, that he’s going to push for them, you know, this small amount coming out of the employee’s side, not the employer’s. I think he’s going to push for it. I think he’ll overcome the queasiness of some Republicans about it. But I think he’ll get it. He’ll have to put it off a little bit into the future.
KONDRACKE: OK. Item three, reforming the tax code.
BARNES: You know, there’s only one way if you’re going to reform the tax code. I mean, there’s one thing you want to achieve, get all those special breaks out and simplified. He says he wants to simplify. There’s only one way to achieve that. Lower the tax rates. And then you can get all those loopholes out.
KONDRACKE: Well, the, the Democrats like the idea of tax simplification in principle.
KONDRACKE: What they don’t want it to be is more regressive.
Next on the agenda, continuing to reform education.
BARNES: Yes, well, that’s, you know, I think Bush made a big step in No Child Left Behind. He wants to protect the standards in that, which John Kerry and other Democrats want to dilute, and extend it to secondary schools. It’s going to be tough. I don’t think he’ll have Teddy Kennedy with him this time, do you?
KONDRACKE: No, I don’t, I don’t either.
KONDRACKE: And the question for the Democrats on this one is, who do they put first? Do they put parents and kids first? Or the teachers’ union?
KONDRACKE: Item, item number five, energy reform. Go ahead.
BARNES: It’s not, well, it’s not exactly reform. I mean, the Bush bill is, it’s got some subsidy for practically everybody in the entire energy industry. But it does do what Democrats don’t want to do, and that’s generate more oil and gas production. That’s what we need.
KONDRACKE: Yes, well, I don’t think ANWR is going to get through under any circumstances. That is, it’s almost an issue of religion with the, with the Democrats.
KONDRACKE: They’re going to, they would filibuster that.
KONDRACKE: OK, and finally, on Bush’s agenda for now, tort reform.
BARNES: You know, that is one that Bush, he achieved some of that in Texas, and he wants to do it, and look, the trial lawyers gave more money to the Democratic Party than anybody else. And once again, even with 55 Senators, I don’t think they can push it across, even in the medical malpractice area.
KONDRACKE: You know why?
KONDRACKE: Because there are, there are a number of Republicans who are lawyer-friendly.
KONDRACKE: And, you know, Bush is going to really have to fight on this.
KONDRACKE: What do you want? Do you want your OB/GYNs and, and emergency rooms to close? Or do you want, and drug companies to go out of business? Or do you, or, you know, or do you want to, to do what the trial lawyers want?
Now, the other hot story is after Arafat. Now, as, as Arafat lay dying in, in, in Paris, Bush got a nudge from Tony Blair on the Mideast peace process. Watch this.
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TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I have long argued that the need to revitalize the Middle East peace process is the single most pressing political challenge in our world today.
BUSH: I agree with him that the Middle East peace is a very important part of a peaceful world. I think it’s very important for our friends, the Israelis, to have a peaceful Palestinian state with, I mean, on their border. It’s very important for the Palestinian people to have a peaceful, hopeful future.
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KONDRACKE: Well, look, Bush got a bum rap, I think, for allegedly not being involved in the peace process early. I think he should have looked busy, but I, but I think he had a strategy.
But the question he is now engaged in, the question is one about the Palestinians. What is the character of the Palestinian people? Are they capable of getting a state and living at peace with Israel, or are they, do they have a culture of suicide?
BARNES: Well, it’s going to take a leader that’s going to have to change them a lot. And, and the new leader will have to, one, make a deal with the Israelis, an agreement on an, on an independent Palestinian state, a deal that Arafat could have had but turned it down, and then be willing to sell that to the Palestinian people. It’s going to take an act of great and powerful leadership.
KONDRACKE: Well, and, and Arafat has poisoned the well.
OK, coming up on “The Beltway Boys”, our campaign ups and downs, and a closer look at the role of evangelical voters on Tuesday.
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