'Special Report' Panel on Hillary Clinton's Emotional Moment
This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from January 7, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN HILLARY CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not easy. It's not easy. And I couldn't do it if I just didn't passionately believe it was the right thing to do. I have so many opportunities from this country. I just don't want to see us fall backwards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIT HUME, HOST: Well, that part of that is probably, if you're aware that this occurred today, what you have heard on the radio or seen on television before now. But there was more of what Mrs. Clinton said in that same sequence. Let's listen to some more of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: You know, this is very personal for me. It's not just political. It's not just public. I see what's happening. We have to reverse it.
And some people think elections are a game. They think it's like who's up or who's down. It's about our country. It's about our kids' futures. And it's really about all of us together.
Some of us put ourselves out there and do this against some pretty difficult odds. And we do it, each one of us, because we care about our country.
But some of us are right and some of us are wrong. Some of us are ready and some of us are not. Some of us know what we will do on day one, and some of us haven't really thought that through enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: Some analytical observations on this and the race that surrounds it from Fred Barnes, executive editor to The Weekly Standard, Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call, Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, and Nina Easton, Washington Bureau Chief of Fortune Magazine — FOX News contributors all.
I must say when I first heard that today, and on some viewings of it you could see that her eyes were glistening, it wasn't as clear there, at least on this monitor. I thought this was real emotion, but I couldn't help but note that she managed to get a few things done before she finished with the riff, Fred.
FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: She got in a couple digs at Obama, there, and they were a little vague, but everybody knew who she was talking about—you did, I did, Mort did.
Look, it is personal with her. It's very personal, as she said, because she's been counting on being the Democratic presidential nominee and the president of the United States, and it looks like that's not going to happen now.
I think this is of a piece of something her husband said when campaigning for her in Iowa, and that is, he said about himself, "When it came around to 1988, I could have run, but I didn't," suggesting that it wasn't his turn then. So he ran in '92.
And the Clintons believe that it's her turn in 2008, and what is this guy Barack Obama butting in for? It's her turn.
So, as a result, the fact that he has butted in and now riding the wave probably to the Democratic nomination is real personal for her.
HUME: What is the emotion? Is the emotion genuine?
MORT KONDRAKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: Yes. The emotion was genuine. If you have been working yourself to the bone, traveling all around the country, but thinking that at the end of this road, the presidency was yours—this is likely to be a Democratic year. She was the quote, unquote, inevitable candidate for the Democrats, and all of a sudden it's slipping away and there is this upstart who is doing it, whom she doesn't respect—she doesn't think he works very hard, that he's experienced, that he is entitled the way she is—and she's tired.
And she had to get some licks in, and the licks were, I think, genuinely felt. I don't think it was phony at all.
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think you would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by Mrs. Clinton's plight, but—
HUME: Why are you smiling, then?
KRISTOL: Sometimes, it's usual to have a heart of stone.
I don't believe it was genuine. I think no Clinton cries without calculating first. And I think this if it was genuine it was entirely solipsistic and narcissistic. It is all about her.
Why is she crying for the country? Is Barack Obama not going to be liberal enough for her? Is Barack Obama not going to appoint the kinds of people she wants to the Supreme Court? Is Barack Obama not a stronger candidate in the general election than her?
She's crying for herself, and I don't even believe it is genuine. I think it is entirely calculated.
NINA EASTON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: You are so cynical.
These candidates are real people in these campaigns. They're tired. All of these guys have been run ragged from this fast pace from Iowa to New Hampshire.
Yes, she is watching her candidacy endangered—I don't think it is gone yet, but she is watching it endangered by this guy. I do think—she wasn't crying for the country, she was crying for herself and her candidacy—but it's real, and it's a real human being. And I thought that was a real human moment. It wasn't calculated.
KRISTOL: She is a real human being and she is good at crying when she needs to.
HUME: I'm going to weigh in on as someone who covered her husband's presidency, the first four years as a White House correspondent—her husband could cry on cue. I'm not sure if she has that.
KONDRAKE: If you read Sally Bedell Smith's biography—a terrific book- -there is a lot of emotional stuff that went on in the Clinton White House, everything from throwing lamps to sobbing fits and screaming fits and stuff like that. This was controlled emotion.
EASTON: Why was it in her interest—
KONDRAKE: This was moderate emotion on her part.
EASTON: Why was it in her interest in any way, shape, or form as a woman to cry?
HUME: I can make a case for that.
EASTON: People are going to vote for her because they feel sorry for her?
BARNES: What she was saying is "I care more. I care more for America than some of these people for whom this presidential race is—
HUME: If there tears glistening in her eyes, they were patriotic tears.
BARNES: —I care more."
What I want to hear from is, we know now it's personal with John Edwards, because he said so in the debate. And now it is very person to Hillary Clinton. What about Obama?
KONDRAKE: He says' it's personal with him, too.
HUME: This is clearly the sound byte from today that will play everywhere and all over New Hampshire, and if they don't see it on the local news, they will see it on the national news, and it will be there again in the morning. How do it play as they go into the election day? Does this play in her favor, or does this hurt?
EASTON: It hurts her. It makes her look like her campaign is in trouble, which is why she is choking up. It hurts her. Why would she calculate to cry?
BARNES: If it shows that her campaign is in trouble, then it is an accurate reflection of the situation.
HUME: Yes, but how does it play?
BARNES: I don't think it affects things one way or another. She will undoubtedly lose up here.
KONDRAKE: I agree with Nina, I think it hurts her. And, therefore, I agree that wasn't phony. I think it was quite genuine.
HUME: Well, if it was fake, Bill, how does it help?
KRISTOL: I think she might have thought she would get some sympathy, and for all I know she may well have among those who wish to be sympathetic, and those people are more sympathetic than I am, surely most Democrats are.
But he is going to beat her.
EASTON: —an older woman demographic, or something, that they are going to vote for her because they feel sorry for her? That's ridiculous.
KRISTOL: I'm here to take Fred off the hook and show what a true heart of stone is like.
Look, I think she runs a great operation here, I'm told. They will get every voter out who wants to vote for her. And she has a base, she will get her 32, 34 percent.
HUME: That much?
HUME: It is below that in a lot of polls.
KRISTOL: Yes, OK, 30, 32, 34. But I think Obama goes into the mid- 40s. I think he has an awful lot of momentum.
KONDRAKE: The interesting thing will be what happens after tomorrow assuming she loses by ten points. There is going to be a retooling in the Clinton campaign, and they are going to try to figure out how to go at him- -they haven't figured it out yet—how to go at him, and they are going to bring new people in.
HUME: Oh, boy, here we go.
KONDRAKE: Yes, it's not over.
HUME: We have to take a break, but when we come back with Fred, Mort, Nina, and old Stone Heart, we will talk about the Republicans. Stay tuned.
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JOHN MCCAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And my dear friends, tomorrow is the day when we will tell the world that the state of New Hampshire has again chosen the next president of the United States.
MITT ROMNEY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I we put up a long-term serving Senator who can talk about his years and years of experience, Barack Obama will do to him what he did to the other Democrats who have made the same pitch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: Final day stuff among the Republicans before the New Hampshire primary tomorrow.
So, the polling that is out suggests that this race is closer than the Democratic race looks like it might end up being. Let's look at the Real Clear Politics average of all these polls, and there has been a blizzard of late polls.
They show McCain leading Romney, but by slightly less than five points, Huckabee not making much impact, and nobody else in double digits. So it doesn't look like the Huckabee effort here, based on these polls, has made much of a difference, although he has gotten some pretty good crowds. It comes down to McCain and romney.
Nina, your thoughts—and, yes, your husband works for romney, we understand that. You're an independent journalist—your thought?
EASTON: Just that it is to some extent a numbers game at this point. As we heard earlier in the show, that this 45 percent of the voters in New Hampshire are independent are a lot of those independent voters, and they can vote—
HUME: And it came out at 40, 55 percent would go vote in the Democratic primary, but 45 percent, a significant minority, were still going to vote in the Republican primary.
EASTON: And we'll see how that plays out. If Obama—Obama, when you go watch him, really pitches to Republicans. And so if some of those Republicans say they're really excited by Obama, and he likes to do this whole riff where someone came up to me and said I really like you, but I'm a Republican. And Obama says yes, thank you. Why are we whispering? It's a very cute little act he does.
But he's playing to Republicans. If they in any numbers go to Obama instead of McCain—
HUME: Republicans haven't vote in the Democratic primary—only independents.
EASTON: Right—Republican-leaning independents, I should say, that's who he is speaking to.
So it comes down to a numbers game: if some of those people go to Obama instead of McCain, that will help romney. If not, it could be a McCain game. I think it will be close either way.
KRISTOL: I'm shocked by Nina's double standards. With Obama it is an act. With Hillary (INAUDIBLE)
Senator Obama means what he says. He's a very honorable fellow. I thought this morning, actually, that McCain, from early December on, took a lead just about the time of Iowa about five, six points, and has been stable if you look at all the points—four, five, six points, it looks like, on the average over Romney.
I thought this morning that maybe McCain's surge crested, Romney might be creeping back up. I called a couple of people who seem to have a good sense of what is happening. Nina is right, the independent vote is a huge variable. There will be a huge turnout, but I think it looks stable to me. It looks like McCain—
HUME: But he is not surging.
KRISTOL: —not surging, but with a three, four, five-point lead. I don't see any reason why that should change tomorrow.
KONDRAKE: I do think that Romney's final argument that we say there is a good one. McCain is a long-serving senator. He's old. What Romney is saying is that he is the past. The Democrats just rejected the past. Obama is going to be the Democratic nominee. How are you going to fight him with an old senator?
Kimberly Strassel of "The Wall Street Journal" wrote a negative article about this being the latest romney reinvention, is himself as the agent of change, after he manufactured himself into a regular Republican.
But as a final argument, I think it is a good one, and it may cut a little.
HUME: And what about the possible effects on this weekend's debates?
BARNES: That's my question. I happen to think that's a terrible argument that he makes. That assumes the voters are strategic voters— they're voting for the candidate who they think is most electable and not necessarily the one they like the most.
That's not way the way they vote in primaries. We certainly found that in Iowa, where all the Democrats thought Hillary was the most electable, and then voted for Obama. And we won't find it here either.
I thought, and you probably heard me say this a number of times, that primary debates didn't matter and they didn't use to matter. But they have mattered this year.
Look at what they have done: they have created Mike Huckabee. They began the resurrection—actually it was this botched debate at the University of New Hampshire last September, Brit, that I think you were the moderator of, that began the resurrection of John McCain as a Republican candidate.
Now, romney was terrific, I thought, in the ABC debate. He was under attack, but he was very poised through the whole thing. And then in the FOX debate last night, he was really in charge. He did very well.
How much will that affect voters? I don't know. But if it does, I think it will make the race very, very close between McCain and romney. Either way—
HUME: Do you give romney a chance to win?
BARNES: I give romney a chance to win. And if he's just close, they will go on to Michigan next week and South Carolina a few days after.
KONDRAKE: I think it could be close, yes.
KRISTOL: They will go on to Michigan next wee, but if McCain beats romney here, I think McCain is ahead of romney in Michigan, and I think the romney campaign ends after Michigan.
EASTON: It's going to be close.
HUME: Are you worried your husband will be out of work?
EASTON: No. I'll at least get to see him, then.
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