Tony Snow on GOP, Iowa Caucuses

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This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 4, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight: During the Greta Van Susteren-Shepard Smith program last night, Rush Limbaugh called in and said this:


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I was watching all the networks tonight, channel surfing around, and I honestly — this is a historic night in this country, folks. I'm not going to mention the networks, but without exception, other than yours, it was Huckabee, Huckabee, Huckabee, Huckabee, Huckabee. They were doing their best to bury what was a devastating and humiliating loss for Hillary Clinton. This was the worst night of her life, other than maybe some nights during the second term.


O'REILLY: Well, joining us now from Washington with reaction and analysis on where the GOP is now and Mr. Limbaugh's comments, former White House spokesman Tony Snow.

Looking a little Vegas casual tonight. We like that look, Snow.


O'REILLY: Yes, you couldn't do that in the White House press room. All right, first, let's take Limbaugh. Now Limbaugh says that the press is still rooting for Hillary Clinton, wanted to play down her bad night last night, although, I mean, I saw cheerleading for Barack Obama like crazy last night almost everywhere. What did you see?

SNOW: Yes, I think there's more cheerleading for Obama. Look, it's a more interesting storyline. You know, we've seen the Clintons for years. I think what did happen is that Obama had been leaning forward a considerable period of time in the Iowa polls, and people kind of expected him to win. They underestimated the margin.

Huckabee and Romney were still sort of up and down in the polls. And there was a little more suspense about that. I think the Huckabee plotline was one because this guy came out of nowhere a lot more rapidly than Obama did. So I don't think the press has necessarily been downplaying what happened to Hillary Clinton. As a matter of fact, that is the plotline that a lot of people are hammering at today.

O'REILLY: So you think Limbaugh was wrong or he just hates Senator Clinton so much that his judgment is clouded?

SNOW: I don't think either one. I did not watch TV as exhaustively as he did last night, but, no, I think the one thing that really does come through is that a lot of people were focusing on the Republican race because that one's going to be a lot tighter. For the Democrats, it's a two-person race. It's Obama, it's Senator Clinton. That's it.

O'REILLY: If you had to handicap it right now, would you say Senator Clinton's still a leader?

SNOW: That, I don't know, because what Kiki was saying in the last segment I think is right. Psychology is something you can't account for. I think Obama's got a big bell wave going into New Hampshire. I think he's got a pre-emptive lead in South Carolina, probably one in Nevada as well. And the question is, does that shift the psychology of Democratic voters going into the big states that are going to vote on January 29 and February 5?

O'REILLY: All right. Now on the GOP side, which you know a little bit more about, the Huckabee juggernaut — and listen, I said this many times — he ran a great campaign in Iowa.

Now he won because of a massive voting block. And that is indisputable. We know that from the polling, the entrance polling. But he ran a great campaign. He is a good speaker, and so is Obama. Now I don't believe that he has the legs to go all the way because of money issues and because of security issues and things like that. How do you see it?

SNOW: Yes, I think you're right. I also think what's going on with both Obama and Huckabee, especially in Iowa, think about it. There were no overwhelming issues. Yes, the war brought in some younger voters on the Obama side. There were no really compelling — there aren't any compelling personalities except for these two guys. I mean, Barack Obama comes across as attractive. He gave a great victory speech last night.

O'REILLY: He sounded just like Martin Luther King last night, cadence and everything.

SNOW: Yes, and cadence — it was a terrific speech. You didn't see that kind of confidence with Senator Clinton. You saw Huckabee, who was able to laugh at himself and was showing a little bit of humor. I think people like to see that. And also in a place like Iowa, they like to root for the underdog.

What now happens for Huckabee is he starts to undergo real scrutiny. It's been interesting, Bill. Any time anybody jumps into this race on the Republican side, they immediately become No. 1 because folks are having difficulty deciding between the candidates. All five are within five points of each other right now. And there is nothing right now that's permitted anybody to leap out ahead of the pack. Rudy Giuliani's making a big gamble by waiting until Florida on January 29. But at that point, he hopes to have the money and the resources and all...

O'REILLY: Right, it's all back-ended.

SNOW: Yes.

O'REILLY: For Giuliani and Clinton strategy, pretty much the same.

Now the surge of McCain in New Hampshire, not Iowa, I think, was due to the Pakistani thing two weeks ago, which rattled the United States. And he came across as the guy who could probably be best equipped to handle that, whereas Huckabee took a dip when that happened because he didn't really articulate what he would do. That is what Huckabee has to overcome in New Hampshire. Now if Huckabee wins New Hampshire or is even competitive, if he even comes within five points, then he breaks out, I think. How do you see that?

SNOW: Well, I think that's very — right now, Huckabee is living off of free media basically. He doesn't have a lot of money.

O'REILLY: Right.

SNOW: So he's relying on press to get the message out. What he's got to be able to do over a period of time is to get a lot of money and to build the kind of ground organization that can carry him to at least be able to get out votes in California, in Texas, in Florida, in New York, in big states. That's a pretty tough…

O'REILLY: That's tough.

SNOW: …this late in the game, but you know, stranger things have happened in politics.

O'REILLY: But give Huckabee credit, man. He came out of nowhere.

SNOW: Yes.

O'REILLY: I mean, the guy started with all of the others down at 2, 3 percent. Started with Tancredo and Paul and Duncan Hunter.

SNOW: Yes.

O'REILLY: And all of these guys were the same flat-liners. And this guy goes zoom. So I was wrong about him. And I have to buy Morris a dinner. And that is a living hell, Snow.

SNOW: Well.

O'REILLY: You know what a humiliation that is?

SNOW: We'll send him the tab.

O'REILLY: So I'm not going to underestimate Huckabee at all, but you and I know how difficult it is to compete outside of the small venues like Iowa. Look, Patrick Buchanan won New Hampshire. Pat Buchanan won. I want to remind everybody.

SNOW: Well, he didn't win. He came in second. And he surprised President Bush 41 by coming close.

O'REILLY: Right, I'm sorry, I thought — he came in second. OK, but he was very competitive.

SNOW: Yes.

O'REILLY: And it was like whoa, here's Buchanan. But then when you get in with the big boys with the big states, it all changes.

A quick question: Are you feeling OK, Snow? I get mail all the time on you. They want to know all about you. You feeling all right?

SNOW: Bill, of course, I'm feeling OK. What's better than being here with you?

O'REILLY: I don't know. But I want — don't you think I should get the same look Snow has, everybody? Shouldn't I get the Vegas casual look that he's got going on? I'm going to work on that in 2008, Snow. Thanks for coming on.

SNOW: We can get you outfitted.

O'REILLY: All right.

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