This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," July 4, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: The White House says President Bush won't name his choice for a Supreme Court replacement until Friday at the earliest. That's when he's set to return from the G-8 summit (search) in Europe. But both sides are already gearing up for a fierce fight.

Joining us now for our fireworks segment — it is the Fourth — Democratic strategist and FOX News political analyst Bob Beckel and Bush-Cheney 2004 chief strategist and FOX News political analyst Matthew Dowd.

Happy Fourth to both of you.



GIBSON: Matthew, let's make Bob feel better. What kind of person is the president going to nominate: one that Bob will feel he is obligated to support, that he is happy to support, or one that he'll feel he has to get to the barricades to fight and defeat at any cost?

DOWD: Well, I think if we're going for Bob's support that bar may be a bit too high. So let's just drop it down a little bit.

I think, Bob, as anybody will expect, he will name a conservative judge that fits into what he has talked about during the campaign and throughout the five years. And that's who he's going to name. It will be somebody that I think will be...

GIBSON: Just in case you slipped, will he name someone who's already a judge?

DOWD: No, he will name somebody that is conservative. Whether it's a judge or not is up to his counsel. And I think we can expect that. I don't think the American public will be surprised with that. Or people of Senate will be surprised in that. But I think we can expect votes in the Democrats in the Senate for whoever his nominee is.

GIBSON: OK. So Bob, you are expecting a conservative from President Bush, aren't you?

BECKEL: Sure. No, of course not. This is the fifth of July. Of course, it will be a conservative. And, frankly, I think that President Bush is in a pretty good spot here.

If mean, if he nominates a conservative who's a strict constructionist, who's pro-business, it's sort of difficult for the Democrats to argue that, particularly since they had this deal about what would be an extraordinary circumstance you'd be against somebody.

But having said that, the real problem for President Bush is not among Democrats, although that will obviously be a problem, but among his own base. You've got conservatives who are pro-business strict constructionists, who don't really care about the abortion issue. Then you've got the religious conservatives who are going to make this the litmus test.

And I'll tell you, you said it last week, John, and it's exactly right. This is boiling down to abortion, plain and simple.

GIBSON: Matthew, is it abortion, abortion, abortion?

DOWD: Well, I mean, I don't think so in the president's mind. The president wants someone that's a strict constructionist of the Constitution. That's what he said he wants. He's not going to apply a litmus test on any issue, including the abortion issue.

So I think the Senate's going to have to do their job, which the president will be in consultation with. Listen, the president has already had conversations with the minority leader. He's had conservations with Pat Leahy (search). He wants to make this a bipartisan process. But I do think you can expect a conservative judge who's strictly going to adhere to the Constitution.

GIBSON: OK. Then, Bob, wouldn't it be smart for the president to nominate somebody who nobody knows anything about their feelings about abortion?

BECKEL: Well, sure. The answer to that would be yes. But let me tell you, let's go back to this. The religious right is organized this time, unlike they were when David Souter was nominated.

GIBSON: Bob, that's Matthew's problem, not yours. He'll take care of the religious right. You take care of Pat Leahy.

BECKEL: Well, look, almost by...

DOWD: I think Bob has probably got a harder time with that.

BECKEL: Now wait a minute. Wait a minute. We can all speak for our own problems on both sides.

But when you get back to the religious conservatives, Matt, which are your problem, the fact is, if they're going to try to force somebody who is strong on abortion, you might — the president may not have a litmus test but they do. And I'm telling you, if they do that, then that's going to engage my side into a major battle here.

If you can keep the thing away from abortion, if you can keep it around strict constructionism, whatever that really means, and pro-business, which we clearly do know what that means, then I think the president's got a pretty good chance of avoiding a long-term fight.

He's got a chance — he's got a pretty good chance getting it successful anyway because of this deal that was cut before the Democrats, as I said back then...

GIBSON: I'm sure you'll take this advice and run right to the presidency, and say, "Look, Beckel just said, you know..."

BECKEL: That's right.

GIBSON: "... an originalist who favors business."

BECKEL: There you go.

DOWD: Well, listen, the president keeps his own counsel on this. And the president — the only person that's going to pick this judge is the president. It's not going to be any particular group. It's not going to be any part of the party.

It's going to be the president of the United States, who understands this is probably the most, if not one of the most important decisions he's going to make in his presidency, because it's a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land.

And so, though a lot of people are going to express their opinion, and this country is great about that, he is going to make the decision and nobody else.

GIBSON: Matthew Dowd, I'm sure you've made Bob Beckel feel better.

BECKEL: Matt, as I understand the Constitution...

GIBSON: Bob, thank you and Happy Fourth.

BECKEL: The Senate will...

GIBSON: Matthew Dowd, happy Fourth. You're lucky to be in Texas.

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