This is a rush transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," August 23, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: Welcome to "The Journal Editorial Report."
I'm Paul Gigot.
Well, it's official. After weeks of heated speculation, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama announced Joe Biden as his running mate today, saying he found in the Delaware senator the rare mix he was looking for in a vice president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's an expert on foreign policy, whose heart and values are firmly rooted in the middle class. He's stared down dictators and spoken out for American cops and firefighters. He is uniquely suited to be my partner as we work to put our country back on track.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal Editorial Board member Jason Riley; OpinionJournal.com columnist John Fund; deputy taste editor Naomi Schaefer Riley; and Washington columnist Kim Strassel.
John, 36 years in the Senate, Joe Biden, chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the past, now Foreign Relations Committee chairman.
What does he bring to the ticket? Because I don't think it's change.
JOHN FUND, OPINIONJOURNAL.COM: No, but he reassures a lot of voters in a time of international crisis that Barack Obama will have an adviser he can count on. He also brings a practiced attack dog to the ticket.
GIGOT: He's good at it.
FUND: Just ask Robert Bork, just ask Sam Alito, and Sam Alito's wife, too. Then he also brings to the ticket Catholic social values. And you'll see him doing a lot of that, appealing, frankly, to the base of the Democratic Party.
Jason, I think he just filled a gaping hole on his resume, and I think he deserves some credit for addressing that.
JASON RILEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: It's a very shrewd pick, I think. I think Obama wanted to pick someone who reinforced his message of change, but the polls kept telling him he needed to pick someone with experience. So he did.
The irony here though is that Obama spent the last couple years telling people, you know, experience isn't everything, it's all about judgment. Then he goes and taps the guy who is known for his experience and voted for the war.
GIGOT: Is this the Dick Cheney pick for Barack Obama, George W. Bush from 2000, that person who's going to reassure the electorate with a presidential candidate who's a rookie?
NAOMI SCHAEFER RILEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL DEPUTY TASTE EDITOR: Yes, I think he absolutely is. I mean, I think Joe Biden sort of says stability to people.
I mean, you know, maybe you don't — a lot of people don't like the fact that he's been in the Senate more than 30 years, but, you know, you can't blame the man. I mean, he's decided what he wants to do. And I think John is right about the Catholic theme, too. I think you're going to hear a lot about how he attends church every week, about how he's been a very faithful religious person his whole life.
GIGOT: But even though he's pro-choice on abortion, what about Orthodox Catholics who go to church every week? Are they going to really defy this? Because it didn't help with John Kerry at the top of the ticket last time. Why is Joe Biden going to help with Catholic voters if he's number two?
SCHAEFER RILEY: Well, it will be interesting. Apparently, NARAL has only given him a 60 percent rating, which is about 35 points lower than Obama.
GIGOT: That's the National Abortion Rights Action League.
SCHAEFER RILEY: Yes.
GIGOT: The pro-abortion rights lobby.
SCHAEFER RILEY: Yes. And he did vote against partial-birth abortion. And so I think that he will make the case that he's more moderate, I guess, on the issue.
FUND: But, Paul, his overall record is very liberal. Barack Obama, the most liberal senator, according to National Journal. Joe Biden, the third most liberal senator. Ninety-four percent liberal voting record overall.
KIM STRASSEL, WALL STREET JOURNAL WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Yes. Let me...
GIGOT: And Kim, a love-fest for Joe Biden here, until that last note. Any downsides to this for the Democrats?
STRASSEL: Let me be the downer. I mean, we're talking — first of all, there is this change issue. And, you know, you can't go out and get someone who's been in the Senate for 30-some years and say that you're about change.
I mean, I think the other thing, too, is we're going to talk about balancing the ticket. Here's a way that Joe Biden does not balance the ticket — on economic policy, for instance, which is one of the key issues out there today, one of the things Barack Obama has to do is convince white working class voters that he is on their side, that he understands them on the economy. Joe Biden is, you know, a carbon copy of Barack Obama on this. Lots of taxes, more spending, bigger government.
GIGOT: But I'll tell you, Kim, what I heard today in his remarks was that economic populist message. I saw the change argument kind of being downplayed a little bit, and more of that bread and butter economic argument. If they mention Scranton, Pennsylvania, one more time, which is where Biden was born, that's a dead solid Reagan Democrat territory. That's where Hillary Clinton got a lot of votes in the primaries, that's where he's got to win.
Are we seeing a pivot here in terms of how Obama's going to campaign?
STRASSEL: Absolutely. You know, John McCain has worked very hard to portray Barack Obama as a big liberal elite. And now you have the Barack Obama campaign hitting back.
You had John McCain's gaffe, not knowing how many houses he owned. So in comes Joe Biden, and that will be the point. It's going to suggest that there is someone on the ticket that understands these people.
He's been a public servant his whole life. He doesn't have a lot of money. And they're going to suggest he is one of the guys.
RILEY: This is a safe pick for Obama. I think it's one of the reasons Hillary Clinton did not get the nod here. I think a black and a woman on the ticket would have been too much change, even for Barack Obama and for the country. And as Kim referenced earlier, he has a problem with white voters, and Joe Biden is meant to address that.
GIGOT: One thing that Barack Obama said today that didn't ring true to me, John, was he said this will turn the page. He can help me — Joe Biden can help me turn the page on the ugly partisanship of Washington.
Is that really Joe Biden's history, post-partisan, let's all reason together? I don't remember that about Robert Bork, for example.
FUND: I think Evan Bayh would have represented that because he worked with the Republican legislation in Indiana as a governor. I don't think that's Joe Biden's career. I think Barack Obama is about to turn his campaign in a startling new direction, and at the same time, blaming John McCain for the negative tone it's taking.
GIGOT: How does this change John McCain's calculation for his vice president pick, John?
FUND: I think that it increases slightly the odds that he might go for a woman, a business leader like Carly Fiorina, or Meg Whitman, or perhaps a seasoned senator like Kay Bailey Hutchison.
GIGOT: To appeal to some of those Clinton...
FUND: The Hillary voters. The Hillary voters are not happy with this choice, because remember, Biden got 9,000 votes running for president in the primaries. He flopped. Hillary got 18 million. They look at that and say, why didn't you go with the person who got 18 million votes?
GIGOT: Do you think that changes his calculation at all?
RILEY: I do. And it will seem less calculating going with a woman now, as John suggested.
GIGOT: You think he will do that?
RILEY: No. It increases the odds. I agree with John. It increases the odds.
RILEY: Before it would have seemed way too calculating. Now it doesn't as much.
GIGOT: Does he have to go with an older pick now though, or does — McCain?
SCHAEFER RILEY: No, I think this actually opens the door for him to go with someone younger. I mean, the same argument is going to be...
GIGOT: Balance the ticket?
SCHAEFER RILEY: Yes, absolutely.
FUND: Tim Pawlenty might be.
GIGOT: The governor of Minnesota.
GIGOT: All right. Thank you all.
When we come back, countdown to the convention. As Democrats head to Denver, a look at the party's agenda and how it has changed over the eight years of a Bush presidency.
GIGOT: As final preparations are made in Denver for the start of the Democratic National Convention Monday, we're back with a look at the issues and personalities that will drive Democrats next week and into the fall campaign.
Kim, the Democrats go into Denver with a big bolt of confidence. They really think they have a chance to add House and Senate seats, and Barack Obama's the favorite to win in the White House.
How have the Democrats changed during the Bush years so that voters know how they're going to govern if they do win?
STRASSEL: Well, I think that they're going in with this confidence in part because there's still a lot of dissatisfaction with the way Republicans governed when they were still in charge in Congress. Look, I'd argue that this is a Democratic Party that didn't necessarily absorb the lessons of the 1990s.
Bill Clinton was a popular president because he at least ran as and occasionally governed as a new Democrat. Fiscal responsibility, a little more social conservative.
GIGOT: Welfare reform?
STRASSEL: Welfare reform. Big — trying to be a foreign policy hawk. You know, these were the things that made him a two-term president.
Now, Democrats are still running some candidates like that, especially in the South and the Midwest, but you have to look at who's in charge in Washington. And these guys are still old 1960s liberals, and they are governing that way. And I'm not sure how that's going to resonate with Americans.
GIGOT: Where are some of the issues where Kim — I would illustrate Kim's point, Jason, where the Democrats have really moved maybe left of where Bill Clinton was.
RILEY: Oh, sure. I mean, if you think of the coalition of the Democrats pre-Clinton, you had ethnic and racial minorities, you had Catholics. You had union members. You had academics and so forth. That's not the same coalition you have today.
GIGOT: Times have changed.
RILEY: Now you have special interests running, you have environmentalists, you have abortion activists, you have trial lawyers. It's a different coalition that is put together, and I don't think that that's a winning ticket for them.
GIGOT: John, is the old JFK coalition that Ted Van Dyke (ph) wrote about in our paper on Saturday — he said that's the way to win. He's an old Democratic activist from the '70s and the '60s, worked for Hubert Humphrey when they were winning, piling up big majorities with JFK.
Does that coalition still exist?
FUND: Oh, yes.
GIGOT: Are they putting that back together again now because they were, what, about five, 10 points ahead, maybe, as many as 10 points ahead in terms of registration with the Republicans?
FUND: They've done better in the last few years putting that back together, but Barack Obama's liberalism and his inexperience make him a tough sell. They look at Barack Obama and they look at his liberal voting record, I think, and they look at the constellation of interest groups around him.
Name me one issue — and once again — where Barack Obama has broken with the unions, the environmentalists, the trial lawyers. He still marches in lockstep with them, and he's going to have to convince people, don't look at my voting record, look at my rhetoric.
GIGOT: But I'll tell you, one area where I think maybe the Democrats have learned some lessons, particularly from 2000 and 2004, are some of the cultural issues. Gun control, you don't hear about that at all anymore. And they are making a play to get some of these faith-based voters.
Have they moved right on the culture?
SCHAEFER RILEY: Well, you can see, I think, in their abortion platform they actually moved left in the last couple of weeks. They took away the word "rare" from safe, legal and rare, which was a famous phrase that was supposed to bring on some cultural moderates.
But if you look at a number of the platform issues, what you see again and again is an absence of emphasis on individual responsibility, whether it's health care or whether it's abortion or poverty. Whatever it is, there's always this emphasis that people can't help the circumstances they're in, and so they make bad choices, and we as the government need to come in and fix it.
GIGOT: But Bob Casey, the senator from Pennsylvania, pro-life senator, he is speaking at the convention where several years ago his father, his late father, who was governor of Pennsylvania, was denied that speaking slot. So they're really making at least an attempt here for the symbolism to be different.
SCHAEFER RILEY: He is. They are making an attempt, but I think it failed in the last couple of weeks.
You saw Obama at Rick Warren's church last week, basically saying, oh — deciding when a fetus has human rights, that's above my pay grade. I think it really rubbed a lot of religious people the wrong way. But I really just think that, you know, there's a lot of — there are a lot of minority stakes in the platform now. And you're seeing — I think you're going to see them move leftward, not rightward.
GIGOT: When we say the party is dominated by interest groups, John, how does that manifest itself on certain issues? Where do they set the terms of debate and dictate positions?
FUND: Well, it means they're slow in catching up with public opinion. Seventy percent of the American people now support drilling offshore.
FUND: The environmentalists said veto, we're not going to have any of that in Congress, not even going to have a discussion or a vote, as Nancy Pelosi said. That has cost them, because they're now in their summer recess, being pummeled by their constituents saying, why won't you even allow a vote? That's a perfect example of a dinosaur party constantly being vetoed to a special interest.
RILEY: Another issue is education. The majority of black Americans support school choice, yet their affiliation with the teachers unions — the Democrats (INAUDIBLE) with the teachers unions have prevented them from satisfying a constituency's demands.
GIGOT: All right, Jason. Last word.
Still ahead, the presidential candidates go toe-to-toe for the support of so-called values voters. But are they really up for grabs?
When we come back, a look at issues that will get evangelicals to the polls in November.
GIGOT: It's a voting bloc that helped George W. Bush eke out a narrow re-election victory in 2004. So exactly how much of a role will Evangelical voters play in determining the next president of the United States? That question took center stage last weekend as John McCain and Barack Obama appeared at a candidate forum hosted by the Reverend Rick Warren at his 22,000-member Saddleback Church in California.
A new FOX News Opinion Dynamics poll has McCain leading among Evangelical voters 55 to 26 percent, a lead that has narrowed since July.
Naomi Schaefer Riley is here. She writes The Wall Street Journal's "Houses of Worship" column.
And you were out at that session and you interviewed Pastor Rick Warren. I don't think John Kerry four years ago would have attended a forum like that, but Barack Obama did, even though probably most of them are McCain voters in the audience.
Did Barack Obama help himself?
SCHAEFER RILEY: Yes, I think he did a little bit. I think you have to give him some credit for appearing there. And he did make an effort a couple of weeks before to talk about how he thinks faith-based initiatives are an important part of, you know, what government should be involved in.
SCHAEFER RILEY: But that being said, I think he was a little too much nuanced for this audience, as a lot of people have pointed out.
GIGOT: They like moral clarity?
SCHAEFER RILEY: Yes, that's one of the things you get from church. And a lot of these people do regularly attend. I think Obama's answer, as I said before about abortion, I think really hurt him with a lot of the people I talked to. And as much as I think the media has tried...
GIGOT: He said it was above my pay grade.
SCHAEFER RILEY: Right. To decide when a baby should get human rights. And I think a lot of people found that answer a little flip. And I think that, you know, when I talk to people about what the most significant issues in their votes were, a lot of them said abortion. And if you look at the media narrative right now, it's surprising how many of them have bought into this notion that the evangelicals just care about the environment now and have given up on the social issues.
GIGOT: But they're not single-issue voters. I mean, we've said that many times. I know you believe that, that they don't just vote on these cultural matters. They're also citizens who care about the war, they care about the economy. And this year, could those larger issues — larger in the sense of when you're war and peace, peace and prosperity are pretty big — could those trump what the evangelicals went to the polls for in 2004?
SCHAEFER RILEY: Well, in the last year, polls show that evangelicals are more supportive of the war in Iraq by at least 10 to 20 percentage points, more than the general public. And also, I think even on domestic issues, what you've seen is as much as evangelicals do say we've expanded our agenda to include the environment and other things like that, they're not willing to buy into big government. Evangelicals are still for the most part a limited government kind of population.
GIGOT: But Kim, I'll tell you, in 2004 George Bush won eight out of 10 of every evangelical voters. McCain, as that poll we cited showed, is really just above 50 percent. Does he have a problem with those voters?
STRASSEL: He might, because, you know, for all of his past conservative positions, there's still a lot of people out there that don't trust him. He has a fraught relationship he has with evangelicals in the past.
Look, you know, one thing I want to say, I actually give Barack Obama a lot of credit for doing this. Because I think that this is partly aimed at going beyond evangelicals. Look, you know, he is out there and making it clear that he's comfortable with his faith, he's comfortable talking about his faith.
GIGOT: And I can be president for all voters, not merely for the factions of the Democratic Party. And he's going to be president of all — it's very shrewd in that sense. Ronald Reagan, I remember, in 1980, he made a play for Democratic voters, and he went into the South Bronx and talked about poverty in a way that a conservative candidate hadn't. So this is you're saying a shrewd strategy on his part.
STRASSEL: That's right, because he's, you know, maybe he's not going to win the evangelicals as Naomi says, but the point is, what about the just average church-going family that wants to know that there's a Democrat that is not scared and shares their values in some way? That's aimed at them as much as it is evangelicals.
GIGOT: Go ahead, Jason.
RILEY: I was just going to say, at some level I think this attendance at Rick Warren's church is hallow. I mean, this is a man who attended a church for 20 years that most Americans would not feel welcome in.
GIGOT: And what church was that?
RILEY: Jeremiah Wright's church.
GIGOT: Church on the South Side of Chicago.
RILEY: South Side of Chicago, yes.
GIGOT: The black liberation theology church.
GIGOT: All right, let me ask you, quickly, John, about the dispute. I want to go to an issue from the earlier part of the show. Hillary versus Barack Obama and their voters. What does Barack Obama do, have to do now that he hasn't put her on the ticket, to get her voters?
FUND: Well, I think it's going to be fascinating to watch the convention coverage. Every Republican convention I've been to, the moderate Republicans who are dissidents always get attention. Will the Hillaristas get a similar amount of attention from the media?
GIGOT: Do you think they're going to be standing up and applauding everything? No. They're going to be — or is there going to be...
FUND: Will they get attention?
GIGOT: Will there be tension on the floor of the convention?
FUND: Yes. But will it get covered is the real question.
GIGOT: All right, John, thanks. We have to take one more break. When we come back, our hits and misses of the week.
GIGOT: Winners and losers, picks and pans, hits and misses. It's our way of calling attention to the best and the worst of the week.
Item one, there's one group of McCain supporters you probably won't be seeing in campaign ads. John?
FUND: Paul, Hans Nichols, a reporter, went to Hanoi, North Vietnam. And...
GIGOT: Vietnam now.
FUND: Well, listen...
GIGOT: It used to be North Vietnam.
FUND: And he discovered that all of the people who kept John McCain in prison for five and a half years now want him to become president. He talked to the guy who fished him out of that lake and held a knife to his throat — he loves McCain. He talked to the warden of the Hanoi Hilton. He loves McCain. And he was a little confused, and then he discovered that all of these people talking to him were talking with the complete cooperation of the government, and the government wants a free trade agreement with the United States.
And guess what, John McCain has voted for every free trade agreement before Congress. Barack Obama opposes even free trade agreements with South Korea. So trade doesn't solve everything, but in this case, it truly creates strange foreign bedfellows.
GIGOT: All right, John, thanks.
Next, a rare hit from Naomi to American Airlines.
SCHAEFER RILEY: Yes, well, I was excited to read this week, American Airlines has announced that it's actually going to be testing out onboard Internet on some domestic flights starting later this year. For about $12 a flight, you'll actually be able to access the Internet onboard. And I'm just waiting now for the other shoe to drop. I'm waiting maybe for airlines to acknowledge that if we turn on the Internet or our cell phones perhaps on the plane, we won't actually bring down the planes or interfere with the navigation.
GIGOT: Just what you want to hear, everybody on their cell phone at 30,000 feet. Naomi, you're really saying you want to hear that? I don't know...
SCHAEFER RILEY: Well, it will be a mixed bag, but I think worth it in the end.
GIGOT: All right. Finally, a miss to the always controversial actor Danny Glover. Jason.
RILEY: Yes. Danny Glover was in Europe recently, claiming that he can't get a movie made in Hollywood because Hollywood is racist and that they only want white heroes in movies.
Well, if you look at the top five highest paid actors in Hollywood, this claim is utterly absurd. Will Smith tops the list. Eddie Murphy comes in at No. 3. Eddie Murphy has been on the list since the '80s. And I mean, I have a feeling that if one of them were to star in Danny Glover's movies, he'd have no problem getting financing at all for this picture, because Hollywood is mostly concerned with, of course, green, not black and white.
GIGOT: All right. Jason, who is your favorite actor, not black or white, just any actor? Who's your favorite actor?
RILEY: My favorite actor? That's a tough one. I'll go with — no, I probably have to go with someone like Paul Newman, who I like.
GIGOT: Oh, man, you're showing your age.
GIGOT: All right, Jason, thanks.
Time now for your hit or miss of the week.
Dan Fletcher of Matthews, North Carolina, writes: "A big miss to the GOP members of the gang of 10 for cutting the legs out from under John McCain on the one issue that resonates with the public and provides a clear distinction between the Democrats and the GOP, and for finding yet another way to alienate the few members of their base who still held any interest." On drilling (ph). All right. Thanks, Dan.
And remember, if you have your own hit or miss, please send it to us at jer@Foxnews.com.
That's it for this week's edition of the "Journal Editorial Report." Thanks to my panel and to all of you for watching. I'm Paul Gigot. We hope to see you right here next week.
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