'Special Report' Panel on Senate Race in Massachusetts; Key 2010 Battlegrounds

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This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Bret Baier" from January 15, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS: I don't think Scott Brown is going to win on Tuesday. We're not on the ballot in — there is a campaign going on in Massachusetts. We're happy to lend our support.

FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI: You got to send somebody — not a Republican or a Democrat to Washington — you got to send somebody with common sense.



JIM ANGLE, GUEST HOST: OK. There's people talking about that race in Massachusetts we talked about it earlier.

Let's bring in the panel: Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard; Juan Williams, news analyst for National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

President Obama was already doing robo-calls for Democratic candidate, and now he is going to help out personally on Sunday, we believe. She, Martha Coakley, was quoted this week as saying the rise in the polls for her Republican opponent was a little frightening, she told Democratic activists.

This was the seat that was long held by Teddy Kennedy. What on earth is going on here, Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: We have a popular revolt. We have a candidate who very clever with the Republicans nationalized this election at a time when there is a lot of resistance to the Obama agenda. It's not about Obama, the person. It's about his agenda.

And the reason that the president, the big news today is the president will be in Massachusetts on Sunday, is because he understands that she is behind an interesting dynamic. The Democrats have the registration advantage three to one. The Republicans have the intensity advantage. It's 10 to one.

And in an off-off year election, if it were a quiet election and the Republican hadn't peaked early, low turn-out, he could win. But the president arrives — it's not to increase intensity on the part of Democrats. The Democrats have none of the enthusiasm pro-Obama that they had last year.

It's simply if he lands there, he speaks, and it will be all over the airwaves. Every sentient Democrat will know there is an election on Tuesday and the Kennedy seat is at stake. And that is what they hope will help to make the turnout higher on the part of Democrats and perhaps squeak through with a victory.

ANGLE: Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, NEWS ANALYST, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, I don't think there is any question. It's not just that the president that's going. Bill Clinton is going to be there as well. So it will be a real a show.

What has happened here is that a state race in a very liberal state has become nationalized to the advantage of the Republican Party. It's become nationalized to the extent that Rudy Giuliani is on the ground and whipping up people.

And the key here is the independents. Do independents turn out for this special election? At the moment, the independents that were going to turn out were favoring Brown.

And I think they're picking up again on the national argument about health care and even terror, because I thought Coakley had a terrible performance in the debate when she talked about there being no terrorists in Afghanistan. What a clear shot she gave Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard in advertising.

ANGLE: Bill appreciated it.

WILLIAMS: I'm sure he did. I have to pump him up.

So it seems to me at the moment there is a wave of enthusiasm that has benefited Brown. But I expect it will turn around, because in any special election, you come down to organization. And it's a democratic state with strong unions with two Democrat senators and a Democrat governor. They'll get the vote out.

ANGLE: Let me introduce another factor here before you start. You mentioned independent voters, and there are a lot of independent voters among Massachusetts voters. Independents have been particularly skeptical of health care.

Now, there are other issues in Massachusetts, including jobs. But health care is clearly a major issue in this race. Look at a FOX News opinion dynamics poll here that shows if you ask people about the health care reform legislation, 39 percent favor, 51 percent oppose. That has been reflected in poll after poll after poll.

How does that affect the race?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: The voters in the Massachusetts know that this is crucial for the future of Obama's health care plan, and they're not crazy about it. They don't dislike it as much as voters elsewhere. But even in Massachusetts, that's what you say...

ANGLE: Even.

KRISTOL: Even in Massachusetts, Democratic senators, Democratic statewide offices, all Democratic congressmen, they have to bring President Obama in to try to save this race.

Martha Coakley, all the Democratic people in Washington now are dumping on her now. She won the attorney general's race in 2006 with 73 percent of the vote. She ran way ahead of the gubernatorial candidate Duval Patrick. She was widely regarded as the most electable, the safest person for them to nominate. They nominated her. It's a popular revolt. That is the core of it. Scott Brown has run a very, very good campaign. And in that debate Monday night, I think the sentence that will go down, especially if Brown wins, and I think he probably will if he holds off the Democratic assault here this weekend, the sentence that will be remembered is when David Gergen, who epitomizes surely the Washington establishment, said, Well, Mr. Brown, this is Teddy Kennedy's seat and you oppose his health care proposal. And Brown said it's not Teddy Kennedy's seat, it's not the Democrats' seat, it's the people's seat. And I think that epitomizes the kind of populist revolt that may take Massachusetts to the Republican column on Tuesday.

ANGLE: Very quickly, one observer asked today, if this bill is so good, why does everyone need an exemption to vote for it, referring to the exemption on Medicaid for Nebraska, on Medicare Advantage for Florida and others?

Ben Nelson, who got that original thing, Charles, backed off today and asked Senator Reid to pull it back from Nebraska and give it to everybody.

KRAUTHAMMER: Because he got heckled in his own state I think in a restaurant over the weekend. Here is a guy who brings home a particular exemption on behalf of his own home state and the people are so embarrassed at home by this corrupt deal that they oppose the deal which actually helps them.

It tells you how disgusted people are with the process. It isn't only that it's been done in secret. It's that it's been one trade of a favor after another, ostensibly on behalf of a great objective, insuring the uninsured, and people can smell that this is all about politics and not about really helping Americans.

And that's why I think this is a referendum on health care and why Obama is going to be in Massachusetts, because he knows that if the race is lost, it's not just that he's not going to get 60 in the Senate. It's that a lot of moderates in House and Senate will run away understanding that their seats are lost in November if they stay with the president on this issue.

ANGLE: OK, next up, the Friday lightning round and your choice online topic of the week.


ANGLE: This week and every week on the FoxNews.com "Special Report" page, viewers vote on what topic we should discuss first on the Friday Lightning Round.

As of 3 p.m. ET, 30 percent of a record 3,000 votes went to the panelists' favorite 2010 race. Bill Kristol, take you first shot. It's the Lightning Round: Make it snappy.

KRISTOL: The results of Massachusetts are going to generate all kinds of people jumping into the race you haven't been expected to.

I think Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana, number three in the House Republican leadership, is going to take on Evan Bayh, heretofore thought to be a safe seat, but if Massachusetts isn't safe, Indiana isn't safe. Pence will make it a competitive race against someone who is thought to be one of the safest Democrats in Senate.

ANGLE: A tough blow for moderates in the Democratic Party then.

KRISTOL: If Pence can beat him.

ANGLE: Juan?

WILLIAMS: Marco Rubio versus Charlie Crist, Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat out of Florida. It's been an incredible performance by Rubio so far. He's won 16 straw polls in a row, including beating Charlie Crist in Panales County, which is the former governor's home county.

And this is really the race I think will dictate a lot of the populist energy, tea party energy for Republicans and help the Republican establishment have to negotiate the energy that is coming from the grassroots movement.

ANGLE: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: We thought Connecticut held by Chris Dodd would go — and he was in trouble, of course, which would switch, was ironically would be held by Democrats because Dodd stepped out and he's now replaced by the attorney general, a popular guy. He's been in office forever.

However, I think the effect of Massachusetts is going to show that even in New England, this seat is not safe. He has two opponents, Rob Simmons, a former member of Congress, and Linda McMahon, who is a wealthy wrestling mogul, and we need a wrestling mogul in the U.S. Senate.


She is willing to spend a lot of money. It will be a close race. It's not in any shape or form as of today a Democratic cinch.

ANGLE: Not a smack-down, in other words.

KRAUTHAMMER: Absolutely not.

KRISTOL: The new, diverse Republican party. Women running all over the place. I think the next black senator is probably a Republican in Texas. Michael Williams, female wrestling moguls. You have to love the Republican party of 2010.

WILLIAMS: Anything with female wrestlers I'm for.

KRAUTHAMMER: With a very large tent.



ANGLE: With a big ring in the middle.

KRAUTHAMMER: Keep going on that.


ANGLE: You could carry on for hours, I know.

Now, let's look, look back at Haiti. This has been a horrendous week for Haiti a place that has a fragile existence for its residents in the best of times, and this was clearly the worst of times.

Today, Bill Clinton was talking about what he is going to do with Bush 43, former President Bush, as the two of them try to raise money for this. I think we may have a bite from interview that Major Garrett did with former President Clinton.

No, we don't have that sound. But he was talking today about the difficulties in this and the fact that it is a situation in which people have struggled. You had a child he talked about with a broken arm. There wasn't even aspirin for them. I mean it really is a heart-wrenching situation.

Now you have American troops going there to hand out aid, to do what we can, and the military which is extremely organized in situations like this to manage the relief. Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: It's not lack of money. We have all the money in the world. The problem is all the money in the world and all the supplies, you have to get them in. And to get them in you have to have infrastructure. There is no government in Haiti, there is no security.

When the shock wears off and the grief begins wearing off and then the anxiety and resentment and the panic ensues, we will have not just a problem of social work, we will have a problem of security.

And we're going to have a real issue where are we going to shoot the looters or not? In Baghdad after the liberation, we did not. Are we going to shoot Haitians? I doubt it. But we are going to be essentially be an occupation there, and that is going to be a very difficult issue.

ANGLE: It could be very difficult, Juan. I know from having covered Latin America for years there was an international route there that had a warehouse full of food, and so forth. And during some dark days many, many years ago, people would go and loot them, so they finally put security there. And they came back the next morning and one of the guards was nailed to the door.


ANGLE: So it can be really vicious in a place where people are so desperate. The question I guess is whether American troops do that or whether the blue-helmeted U.N. troops manage the aid. And we saw some managing the crowds today.

WILLIAMS: Well, I think that there has to be some sort of police presence. The difficulty with it is putting Americans in danger's way. And I don't think there is any question that the American forces would have to defend themselves.

The key problem for me is not this, which I think at some point we have to pull back, because we do not want to be the occupying force, as Charles was saying, but the key problem for me is whether or not we'll lose our will to help people in the desperate hour.

ANGLE: Just a few seconds, Bill. Go ahead.

KRISTOL: In order to help people we are going to send in the military and we need to keep the military there because there needs to be humanitarian mission that will need to be safeguarded and therefore it will become an armed stabilization mission.

There are U.N. forces and actually have done a decent job the last couple of years, but they will require 10,000 U.S. troops for quite a while there.

ANGLE: OK, a quick correction: We said earlier there were one to 2 million Haitians in the U.S. illegally. The accurate figure is up to 200,000.

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