'Special Report' Panel on New Hampshire Election Results and Upcoming Primaries

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This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from January 9, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I really feel very good about what happened in New Hampshire, because it gave me a chance to really regain my footing and make it clear that I'm going to put all of my years of experience to work on behalf of the people of our country.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everybody understands this is a high-stakes election. And I think voters are not going to let any candidate take anything for granted. They want to lift the hood, kick the tires. They want us to earn it.


BRET BAIER, "SPECIAL REPORT" GUEST HOST: Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on "FOX & Friends" this morning, talking about the way forward after the stunner in New Hampshire.

So where do they go from here? Some analytical observations now from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, Mort Kondracke, Executive Editor of Roll Call, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.

And we are going to start this with Charles, because he hasn't commented yet on the elections, the primaries in New Hampshire. Essentially, you're clean.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, if you're not on the field, you can't get sacked. So my jersey is clean, but I'm back, and I'm ready to get dirty and intercepted often.

BAIER: So what about this Hillary win?

KRAUTHAMMER: It was remarkable. As you indicated before, it had a lot to do with the crying moment. After all, it showed a lot of people that the android has feelings.

But I think there was an earlier incident that was somewhat overlooked, and that happened in the debates Saturday night, which was a moment where Obama let down his guard, and it was not pretty.

It was when Hillary was asked a question about likability, and she answered in a rather charming way, saying her feelings had had been hurt, and then praising Obama that he was likable, and saying "But I'm not so bad."

And Obama answered in an aside that I think he regrets. Without half a smile and looking down, he said "You're likable enough, Hillary," which was a nasty crack that was uncharacteristic of a guy whose run a campaign flawlessly, gracious and uplifting.

Now, I don't know how many people it affected. The mainstream media did not want it to interfere with the canonization of Obama, so it wasn't played. But 9 million Americans saw it, and they saw her gracious answer.

I think that, and the incident in the coffee shop -- remember, this is a Democratic election in which there are no issues at all between the three candidates. It is an absurd debate between hopeful change, experienced change, and angry change, which is John Edwards, which has no substance. It is all about personality and about these odd little events.

BAIER: Let me ask you about Barack Obama and what this means for his campaign. I mean, this, obviously, slows if not stops the momentum he was getting out of Iowa. But what does it mean from here on forward?

MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "ROLL CALL": Look, he just got the endorsement of the culinary workers in Nevada. And he has got half of the electorate in South Carolina is African-American. So his prospects are pretty god.

I don't think there is a frontrunner at the moment, but it's going to be a tough one.

There is one point, some analysts have been saying that Obama lost because of the Bradley effect, that, basically, it was racism in New Hampshire, that Tom Bradley, the Mayor of Los Angeles, ran for governor of California; people said that they would vote for him and they ended up not voting for him.

And people are saying that because the polls indicated that Obama was going to win and he didn't that this was the Bradley effect and it was about racism.

That is poppycock. The exit polls, if you're going to lie to a pollster, you're going to lie to an exit pollster, right? The final run of exit polls was absolutely dead-on predicting how it came out.

And furthermore, what do you say about Iowa? Iowa was a place just as white as New Hampshire, and Obama won there.

What Obama represents is hope and change, but the public was not ready to anoint this guy. This is somebody we don't really know, the country doesn't really know him. He talks a wonderful game, but, as he said himself, you got to be tested. And this is part of the testing process.

I don't know that that was conscious in people's minds. but that's the effect, and I think it's a good effect.

BAIER: The next stop for Democrats is Nevada and then South Carolina. Let's take a real quick look at the Real Clear Politics average polls in South Carolina: Obama at 44 percent, Clinton at 31 percent. Of course, it is a little scary to look at polls, but South Carolina is a place where about 50 percent of the population is African-American.

Fred, looking forward in this Democratic race, do some forecasting.

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": That is a long ways forward, because the Republican Primary is on the 19th of January in South Carolina, the Democrats are on the 26th. But, to answer your question, anyway, my point is that is a long ways away from now, 17 days or something like that.

The truth is, I'm convinced that even some African-American leaders in South Carolina are behind Hillary Clinton. The African-American vote is going to go to Barack Obama. I don't see how it can't, and for this reason -- he is the first African-American who has a real chance of winning the Democratic nomination. Jesse Jackson didn't. Al Sharpton wasn't going to be the nominee, but Barack Obama could be, and he could be elected president.

Now, are African-American voters go to go for Hillary Clinton in that situation? I don't think so.

So I agree with Mort. I think he's in good shape in South Carolina. He has gotten a couple of endorsements in Nevada, which will help him in between. And so I think he still has a very solid chance. I think he has a slightly better chance that Hillary Clinton, but only slightly.

BAIER: And last night, sitting on that desk, you were shocked?

BARNES: Totally!

BAIER: That's it for this panel, but when we come back, we'll discuss what John McCain's resurgence has done to an already wide open Republican race. That's next.



JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We won New Hampshire. We will win Michigan. We will win South Carolina. We will win the nomination, and I will be the next president of the United States with your help!

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to keep on fighting in this campaign. We're not going to pull back, and we're going to win Michigan. I've said that now three times.


BAIER: Senator John McCain and former Governor Mitt Romney in Michigan today fighting for that state next.

Before we talk about the Republicans with our panel, Associated Press has moved a story that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been polling and conducting "highly sophisticated voter analysis in all 50 states as he decides whether to launch an independent presidential bid." Does this matter, Mort?

KONDRACKE: It's not news. Kevin Sheekey, his chief political advisor has said that what they are planning to do is analyze thoroughly and decide when the two nominees are clear if there is a polarized electorate -- the Republicans nominate a right winger and the Democrats nominate a left winger -- and there is a channel up the middle that Bloomberg might run. So their still checking it out.

BAIER: He's still going for it.

KONDRACKE: He's still checking it out.

BAIER: Let's talk Republicans. Fred, after John McCain's win, how big is that for him, and how far can that carry him in other states?

BARNES: I think it can carry him pretty far. It was a huge win. We always have to remember where he was six months ago last summer. His campaign was out money, it was dead, it was written off. He let staffers go. He dropped in the polls. He was being killed by the immigration issues and the war in Iraq, which he had urged the president to go ahead with the surge and the counterinsurgency strategy had really not produced great results then as it has now.

And six months later, look where he is. I mean, it really was an incredible comeback. He won Michigan in 20000.

I think Romney is not dead yet, though. But Romney absolutely needs to win in Michigan, because he has brought all his forces there, his people, all his ad money will go into Michigan. He grew up there.

He will be finished if McCain wins in Michigan. And if McCain wins in Michigan, I think he will go on to win South Carolina, and really become a strong frontrunner.

BAIER: So, Mort, Mitt Romney finishes second in Iowa, he wins Wyoming, finishes second in New Hampshire, now he has to win Michigan?

KONDRACKE: I think he virtually has to win Michigan. He has to win something.

BAIER: Wyoming.

KONDRACKE: Yes, but that is not enough.

BAIER: All right, but it is one on the scoreboard.

KONDRACKE: It is one on the scoreboard, but it is almost an asterisk on the scoreboard.

What I found fascinating in the exit polls is that the most important issue for Republicans, at least in New Hampshire, or voters in New Hampshire, people who voted in the Republican Primary, was the economy. And 51 percent think that the economy is either poor or not so god, and of those people, overwhelmingly, they went for McCain.

So this suggests that McCain can play the populist game. He is not going to play it the way Huckabee is playing it because he is a free trader and stuff like that, but he can start talking about wage insurance and worker retraining, and stuff like that.

Wait a minute -- Michigan has a terrible economy. Even Republicans in Michigan know that there's a terrible economy. If he starts using that issue, I think he can win that primary.

KRAUTHAMMER: McCain hinted at that today when he talked about defending those left behind economically in Michigan. He knows it's a big issue in Michigan.

But, look, the reason he won in New Hampshire was not economics. It was because he ran on honor.

And if you heard his speech at the end, which was a wonderful speech -- he delivered it in a stumbling way -- it was not an Obama delivery, but it was a wonderful speech, and it spoke about country and self-interest and what stands first.

That's why the Republicans are turning to him as the one candidate, even if you disagree with a lot of his issues, and a lot of conservatives do whom you can respect.

So he will run in Michigan. I think Romney has raised the stakes very high. He said "I grew up here, I know this state, this state knows me, they like me." If that's a state where you make all those claims and you lose, then you can't win anywhere.

BAIER: But isn't there an anti-Huckabee, anti-McCain conservative Republican vote that is untapped out there, Charles? Is Thompson possibly going to pick up something in South Carolina?

KRAUTHAMMER: It's untapped, but it will have to end up being split between McCain and Huckabee, because Thompson is dead. Giuliani is really at the edge -- unless he wins in Florida, he can't compete.

What I'm concerned about on behalf of McCain, if he and Romney knock each other out in Michigan, Huckabee is going to be in the western part of the state with a lot of Evangelicals could actually slip through. and if he wins Michigan and then he gets a bounce in south Carolina, he could be unstoppable.

BARNES: Huckabee?


BARNES: No, I don't think so.

Look, McCain has something that Charles touched on about honor that none of the other candidates have, and that is himself, his personality, his record, his toughness, his sense of humor, and all these things. People like it.

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