This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, January 27, 2003. Click here to order the entire transcript of the show.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: It could be the most important moment in his career. One year ago the president delivered his first State of the Union. His approval rating at the time? A staggering 83 percent. Today, his approval rating is below 60 percent, we're on the edge of war and the economy is unsteady at best. What does he need to do?
Joining us here in Washington is former Reagan White House speechwriter and Supreme Court clerk Laura Ingraham. She hosts a nationally syndicated show for Westwood One Radio. A great radio show, I might add.
All right, Laura. Tomorrow night, what should the president do?
LAURA INGRAHAM, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPEECHWRITER: I think Peggy Noonan said it right in "The Wall Street Journal" today. She said, look, leave the sort of flourish of oratory to last year, when he talked about the axis of evil and all that. really worked for the time, just months after the attacks.
This year, it has to be facts and logic, to bring people around to the conclusion that Iraq presents a real danger to American security and American interests and really make the case to the American people that Iraq needs to be dealt with and sooner rather than later. That has to be said clearly.
VAN SUSTEREN: You mean actually -- you mean actually laying out exactly what Iraq has, what Saddam Hussein has, rather than saying he's just sort of -- we've got to get him because he's bad?
INGRAHAM: No, I think -- I think you'll hear a similar conversation that you've heard over the last few days from people like Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice and others that, look, when he doesn't allow you to U-2 spy planes to fly over, just to merely look as an aerial view over Iraq, when he doesn't allow scientists to be interviewed, when he can't account for VX gas or he can't account for sarin, when 6,000 warheads are unaccounted for, what is a reasonable person to conclude?
Americans are very reasonable. They have a lot -- they have an innate sense of -- real common sense out there. And I think if that...
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, wait a second.
INGRAHAM: If that case is made in that way, just very simple, not, you know, I despise him or I loathe him, the kind of language you heard from Bush about Kim Jong Il, but just really the facts and the logic and America's security first, not the interdependent global community, but America's security -- that's what America wants to hear, I think.
VAN SUSTEREN: Indeed. But let me play devil's advocate with you for a second. What the American people heard today was Hans Blix and -- saying that he needs more time.
INGRAHAM: Yes, yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: And the American people are reasonable. And they've got in the back of their mind these body bags, and they're thinking, well, why not wait another month or two just to double-check.
INGRAHAM: Well, I think what was amazing about that speech was how hard core Hans Blix sounded on all those issues -- the gas that wasn't accounted for, the chemical weapons, the biological weapons, the U-2 planes that are not allowed to be used in Iraq now.
And yet, at the end, he said, well, we need more time. Well, he's an inspector. Of course, he wants more time. I think what the president will say is, look, we haven't made any decision yet, but time is running out, and...
VAN SUSTEREN: Is this...
INGRAHAM: ... and we're talking a matter of weeks, I would imagine.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is this the State of the Union, or is this why we should go to war?
INGRAHAM: I think it's probably...
VAN SUSTEREN: What's...
INGRAHAM: I think -- well, Karl Rove during the day at different points, I think, was saying expect something that you're not going to expect in tomorrow's speech. There will be a lot of other things covered other than Iraq.
I think the domestic front is looking, you know, very precarious for this administration right now. You have to start showing results both on the economy and the war on terror.
It's not enough to say that the country is dangerous. That's what the Democrats are saying, we're living in dangerous times. Well, of course, we are.
But the Democrats are making the case that homeland security's a problem, that, you know, we need to wait with the inspectors, everyone hates us around the world. So that case is being made by the Democrats.
The president has to make the case for American security at home, economic security, and security against terrorism in a factual and logical way.
VAN SUSTEREN: I thought it was interesting tonight. Former President Bush actually spoke tonight about how difficult a decision it is to make, the decision to go to war.
Let's listen to what our former president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The toughest decision that any president makes, in my view, is when you have to decide to send someone else's son or daughter into harm's way, into battle. There is no question about it. And no president can make that decision lightly or without a heaviness in his heart.
I must confess that the voices of outrage that say this president wants war really get to me. No president wants war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Must be -- you know, he speaks with great pride because of his son, but also tough on all the criticism his son gets.
INGRAHAM: Yes. Well, he's always very emotional. The Bushes are very emotional people. You could see him a little bit tearing up there.
John Kerry over the last few days has said -- last week in his big foreign policy speech, said, "Mr. President, do not rush to war. War should be a last resort." The idea that we're rushing to war -- this has been two months of inspections.
We got the U.N. Security Council to unanimously vote on this, serious consequences if an omission or material breach occurs in that declaration. There's no rush to war...
VAN SUSTEREN: Is...
INGRAHAM: ... and there's no unilateralism. That's just wrong.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is it -- is waiting two months -- to have two more months of inspections -- is that...
INGRAHAM: That's not going to be enough.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I mean, I'm just...
INGRAHAM: That's not going to be enough.
VAN SUSTEREN: ... posing that to you, I mean, because -- is that rushing to war because, you know, there are going to be deaths here. There are going to be...
VAN SUSTEREN: There are going to be American deaths. There are going to be Iraqi civilians. There are going to be American deaths. And, if it goes very badly, if the president waits -- doesn't wait two more months, it's not going to -- it's not going to bode very well for him in the future.
INGRAHAM: It's -- it's a mine field there, and I think -- but I think the clear and present danger to American security -- that case has to be made tomorrow.
VAN SUSTEREN: What about looking weak if he doesn't go now in the international community?
INGRAHAM: I think the international community for the most part is supporting the president on this. I think France and Germany and a few other vocal critics want to wait and delay and have more inspections and have more inspections.
But when will the next inspection be enough? When will it occur? When will the stamp of approval be given by Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei that they've scoured the whole country? When is that really going to occur at this point?
And I think most Americans, again, are -- they have a practical approach to this. We need to get this burden off the economy. If Saddam Hussein presents a danger to Americans, it's better to deal with him now than wait until the heat of the summer.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, tough speech. It's almost -- I was watching him and hearing reports about him practicing and going over this. I actually felt sorry for him...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... having to make this speech tomorrow night with the whole world watching, and, of course, we'll all be paying attention. Before we go, quickly, what's the worst thing he can do?
INGRAHAM: The worst thing he can do, I think, is present a muddled message which isn't going to happen. I think it's going to be a clear message on the economy and on the terror-related front, and I think, again, he's going to remind people this is an overall war on terror and Iraq is part of that overall war.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Laura, nice to see you. Thank you very much.
INGRAHAM: Nice to see you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Great radio show. You've got to listen to it.
Click here to order the entire transcript of the January 27 edition of On the Record.
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