Transcript: Battle Between Obama and Hillary Gets Nastier and More Expensive, Fights for Delegates in Michigan and Florida

This is a rush transcript from "The Beltway Boys", March 8, 2008, that has been edited for clarity.

FRED BARNES, FOX CO-HOST: Coming up on "The Beltway Boys," Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton prepare for a protracted expensive and nasty battle for the nomination.

MORT KONDRACKE, FOX CO-HOST: We will preview the next big battlegrounds, including the fight over seating delegates in Michigan and Florida.

BARNES: As the Democrats duke it out, John McCain cruises to the GOP nomination. We'll tell you how he is preparing for the general election.

KONDRACKE: We will tell you how "Saturday Night Live" got to be a big player this season.

BARNES: "The Beltway Boys" are next after the headlines.


KONDRACKE: I'm Mort Kondracke.

BARNES: I'm Fred Barnes and we are "The Beltway Boys."

KONDRACKE: Fred, I want to play you a great Republican campaign ad, in case Barack Obama becomes the Democratic nominee. Watch this.


HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have said that Senator McCain will bring a lifetime of experience. I will bring a lifetime of experience. And Senator Obama will bring a speech he gave in 2002. I think that is a significant difference. I think that since we now know Senator McCain will be the nominee for the Republican Party, national security will be front and center in this election.


KONDRACKE: I thought that was an endorsement of McCain in case Obama becomes the nominee.

BARNES: Came close, yes.

KONDRACKE: Well this Democratic race is getting to be savage. Not only is Hillary cutting campaign commercials for McCain but she is accusing Obama of acting like Ken Starr, the detested among Democrats former special prosecutor, just because Obama is quite legitimately asking for the Clintons to release their past tax returns and the contributor list for the Bill Clinton Library in Little Rock. And lord knows who might have contributed to that, various characters all over the world.

He also wants the archives to release the records of the Clinton administration to demonstrate whether or not Hillary Clinton was a major factor in these foreign policy issues or not.

On the other side, meantime, Samantha Power, who was an Obama foreign policy advisor, called Hillary a monster, and then was forced to resign from the gain. So here is Obama talking — responding to Hillary on the issue of national security. Watch.


BARACK OBAMA, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the things that I hope people start asking is what exactly is this foreign experience that she is claiming. I know she talks about visiting 80 countries. It's not clear was she negotiating treatise or agreements or was she handling crises during this period of time? My sense is the answer is no.


KONDRACKE: If you go on Obama's web site there is a long list of the questions raised about whether Hillary was involved in Bosnia and various other episodes during foreign policy episodes during the Clinton administration.

BARNES: Thank you for that suggestion. Now, you know why this campaign is, on the Democratic side, came down to trash talk? They don't agree — don't disagree on any issues. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are doctrinaire liberals. They want to get us out of Iraq, rising taxes, spending more money. Government directed health care programs and so on.

What do we have that divides them? Trash talk. So they get to that.

What matters now most is delegates and delegates and delegates. What's left — I want to make sure we are on the same page. I will run down what's left in this race. Right now Obama is what a little over 100 delegates ahead of Hillary Clinton. And with Wyoming behind us, this is a list of contests ahead. 11 states head to the polls from next Tuesday to early June. A total of 614 delegates are up for grabs out of 4,000 delegates at the convention. Now, Clinton leads Obama in the super delegate race now. She has 242 to Obama's 2309.

So to put it together — and that is why I am here, Mort, to help you on this. This is what is up for grabs as we move forward. 614 pledged delegates. 134 have delegates and 76 so-called add-on delegates. That adds up to 824 total.

Now of course this doesn't include the banned Michigan and Florida delegates, which account for 366 delegates. Democrats, you know, they their mantra in 2000 was count every vote. They have to do something about Michigan and Florida.

Hillary Clinton was like to have the delegates seated because she would close the gap completely with Obama if they were counted because they won those. She wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan. She won't get that.

Obama would like to have those delegates just blotted outs completely and banned and leave if at that. But you cat have a 48 state Democratic convention. They will probably have do-overs. New primaries sometime this coming summer.

But I think that helps Hillary as well because Michigan, white working class, she does well. Florida, senior, that's part of her base. A lot of Hispanic is. She does well with them. So either way it is going to help Hillary Clinton I believe.

KONDRACKE: Yes. Well, what people are really interested in is how it will come out at the end of the live. Let's help them out. Of the contests coming up, this is how we think it shakes out. We think Obama will win Mississippi, North Carolina, Indiana, Oregon, South Dakota and Montana. While Hillary Clinton will pick up Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky. The toss ups are Puerto Rico and Guam.

Now the — if you add these up, there are actually more delegates in the Obama states, 303, than there are in the Hillary states, 229. Now, Indiana is kind of working class, may go the other way, but Indiana is 72. That could make up the difference.

Anyway, it will be close. Karl Rove says that the math is that you Hillary needs to pick up 58 percent of all remaining delegates to be selected in order to get will nomination and Obama only has to pick you up 42 percent. He also notes in Michigan and Florida where Hillary won big, she did not win 58 percent of the vote.

Something does have to be done about the Michigan and Florida. You just can't have two big states in the country not represented. The question is, what to do. And I would think a do-over is the fairest way to do it, except there is a big scrap about who will pay for it.

Here is Democratic Chairman Howard Dean talking about that. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Will the DNC pay for the do-overs, if you do do-overs?

HOWARD DEAN, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Of course not. We can't afford to do that. That's not our problem. We need our money to win the presidential race.


KONDRACKE: A do-over, say in June, would be like not the final four in basketball but the final 2. If would decide the nomination.

Our friend Mark Segal, who used to be executive director of the Democratic National Committee, suggests a firehouse primary instead of a state-run primary. It is kind of a hybrid between a caucus and primary — paper ballots — cheaper. Not as big a turn out as you would have in a thorough going primary. And that would be the way to solve the problem.

BARNES: Let me say two final things. One, Howard Dean. Hey Dr. Helpful, right? Whenever a crisis comes in the Democratic Party, he is there to make things worse.

Then there is something else I want to deal with, Mort? You have accused me to many times of being a Clinton hater. An unfair canard aimed at me? I want to say in the last couple of weeks — and I suspect you agree with this to some extent — in the last couple weeks, Hillary Clinton has emerged as a tougher, more focused, more resourceful candidate than Barack Obama, who is now giving 45 minute speeches after a primary, being self-indulgent. And he was a sore loser after losing Ohio and Texas last week or a couple days ago. There you have it. Hillary is hot. He's not.

KONDRACKE: You want Bill Clinton back in the White House?

BARNES: Not quite.

Coming up, John McCain clinches the GOP nomination. We preview challenges and struggles ahead for them him, next.



JOHN MCCAIN, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do intend to campaign all across the country. I think that literally every section of this country is in play. And I will be glad to have the president with me in keeping with his schedule in any part of America and we are going to go everywhere in America with this campaign.


BARNES: Welcome back to "The Beltway Boys."

Hot story number two, cruise control. Now I think John McCain was exaggerating a bit. I don't think he will spend a lot of time campaigning in Rhode Island or California, but he was on to something, and that is onto what I think are two things. One, there are states that have been fading from being blue. They have been Republican states. I think he can do well in Colorado and New Mexico and Nevada for three. And then there are states that are red or going red that he can be competitive in and are tossups now.

Karl Rove has done this map. Showing how the states stand now. We can look at if first. John McCain vs. Hillary Clinton. And it does show McCain winning Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado. When you move to the east into the Democratic states they are tossups. Pennsylvania, which is usually goes Democratic in a presidential race, Ohio, which has been tilting that way, New Hampshire which went for John Kerry. Then look in the wet up top there the state of Washington, a Democratic state, may go for McCain. So against Hillary he looks fairly strong.

Now, Karl has done a map of McCain against Barack Obama. Doesn't look quite as good. It shows Obama winning Nevada and Colorado. New Mexico is a toss up. You move east. I guess Pennsylvania and Ohio are still tossup states. But obviously, according to Karl Rove — and I agree with him. I suspect you do, too — as it stands now, McCain runs better against Hillary Clinton then against Barack Obama.

KONDRACKE: Right. When McCain said he will campaign all over the country, he is not talking states — going to states that Republicans don't normally go to but also localities, like inner city African-American neighborhoods, Hispanic neighborhoods, Appalachia, all of those kind of places that Republicans rarely come to. And he is hoping that among Hispanics, he can match George W. Bush 2004 record of 40 percent. He may well because he has a position on comprehensive immigration reform that's humanitarian.

Now he has to figure out how to separate himself from George W. Bush. The Democrats will try to tie him tightly to him. The technique I have heard discussed is at every speech he will talk about one of your favorite subjects, Fred, global climate change.

BARNES: Yes. By the way I rationalize that McCain has to do one thing in this race he has to win back Independents. They abandoned Republicans in 2006. Conservative stayed. Some conservatives think, well, we were mad at Republicans so we didn't vote. Not true. It was Independents. Maybe Independents fall for that global warming stuff. But I don't.

Anyway, coming up, the line now is between politics and farce this campaign season. We tell you how, next.


BARNES: Welcome back once again to "The Beltway Boys."

Let's check out our "Ups and Downs" for the week.

Up, "Saturday Night Live." Forget "Special Report," "The Beltway Boys," "FOX News Sunday." The real must-see political TV these days is "Saturday Night Live."

The Obama campaign actually thinks this skit may have caused the media to start getting tougher on him. Watch.


SNL ACTOR: Senator Obama, are you comfortable? Is there anything we can get for you?

OBAMA: No. Thank you. I'm fine.

SNL ACTOR: John King, a follow-up?

JOHN KING, ACTOR: Senator Obama, a minute ago, Jorge Ramos asked if there was anything we could get you and you said quote, "No that you, I am fine." My question is, are you sure?


KONDRACKE: Well the Hillary people were happy with that. Then Hillary Clinton herself went wept on "Saturday Night Live" last week and this was the exchange change. Watch this.


AMY POLAR, SNL ACTOR: I love your outfit.

CLINTON: Well, I love your outfit.

POLAR: Thank you.

CLINTON: I do want the earrings back.

POLAR: OK. Ha-ha. Ha-ha.

CLINTON: Do I really laugh like that? All right.

POLAR: How did the campaign going?

CLINTON: The campaign is going very well. Very, very well. Why? What have you heard.

POLAR: Nothing.



KONDRACKE: That was a very winning performance on her part. Except when I watched that, there was one thing wrong. And that was Amy Polar doesn't have Hillary Clinton's laugh.

For the real thing, watch this.


CLINTON: Ha-ha. Ha-ha. Ha-ha.


BARNES: Mort...

KONDRACKE: You want to listen to that for the next four years?

BARNES: Mort, there you go again. You are picking on Hillary Clinton. You can't stand the idea of a strong woman achieving high office in America.

Mort, you are so 20th century. Mort, you better get over it. That's all I can say.

KONDRACKE: OK, down, OPEC. Oil prices continue to skyrocket. It is pushing $106 a barrel. The oil cartel still refuses to increase production.

Here is President Bush lamenting the toll on the U.S. economy.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our economy is slowing down. We have a housing issue and credit issues. No question the high price of gas hurts economic growth here in the United States. If I were a member of OPEC, I would be concerned about high energy prices causing people to buy rest energy over time.


BARNES: Well, President Bush should be concerned but members of open seem entirely unconcerned. I think the best we can hope for from OPEC is that, as in the past, some countries will cheat, and they'll exceed their oil production quota and we will get more supply. And with the same demand, prices may go down a little.

In the interim, you would think Democrats, and Congress in particular, would get over there hatred of actually increasing oil production in the United States. They passed this energy bill. It didn't have that at all in there. Can you do it in Anwar. You can do it off-shore. You can do it in the Atlantic. You can do it in the Gulf of Mexico.

John McCain, I'll have to say, is not much better on this issue. I can't think of a site in the entire world more appropriate for oil drilling than Anwar. Why in the world would John McCain be against it? I don't under it.

KONDRACKE: Democrats and environmentalists think it is holy ground. I agree with you. We should drill there. It is not only Democrats or John McCain. Your hero, Jeb Bush, is against drilling off the coast of Florida for natural gas.

BARNES: I know. So is the current governor, Republican Charlie Crist.

KONDRACKE: Right. The result of all this is the stock market is cratering. The dollar is cratering. Even Bush's economic advisor is acknowledging that probably growth was negative in the month of January.

BARNES: Up, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Leftist South American countries, like Venezuela and Ecuador, continue to bully U.S. ally, Columbia. Uribe, the president, is holding strong.

KONDRACKE: What Uribe did was send Colombian troops in Ecuador, the border areas, to kill some top-level FARC terrorists there. And then Hugo Chavez and company threatened that they were going to do something to Columbia. They backed off because Columbia has a stronger army than Venezuela does.

BARNES: I think Chavez is a paper tiger. Uribe is our best ally in Latin America, or at least in South America.

There is a way to help him. Our friend, Charles Krauthammer, would say this is a time to use what liberals always talk about, not hard power, not military power, but soft power. And how we do that? Ratify — and it means Democrats in Congress — ratify the trade treaty that has been negotiated with Columbia. It would help.

KONDRACKE: OK, don't move a muscle. "The Buzz" is coming up next.


BARNES: Here is "The Buzz, Mort."

All Washington, now that John McCain has locked up the presidential nomination, is talking about one thing, the vice presidency. Who will be his vice presidential running mate?

It is particularly sensitive because McCain will be 72 if elected president. You know what it means. Ronald Reagan was a sprightly 69 when he became president. So, the first — I mean there is one overriding thing that McCain, or anybody who is picking a presidential running mate has to look for, that's someone who is a plausible president. If you don't have someone you will be hurt by public opinion if you pick somebody people say, I can't imagine that guy being president or that woman being president. You have to get a plausible president. Somebody people think can step into the presidency, if necessary.

And the second thing is you don't want somebody who subtracts from your ticket. Geraldine Ferraro got in trouble with her husband's business, Dan Quayle, the National Guard duty. And they were subtracting from the ticket.

And I am afraid some of these people, like Rudy Giuliani, who is a plausible vice president or Tom Ridge, the former homeland security adviser, or Joe Lieberman, they are all plausible presidents, who could be running mates for McCain. But the Republican right would go crazy.

I think when he gets down to it, the guy that would add the most and have the fewest subtractions is Mitt Romney because he did so well in debates. He has been vetted in the national campaign and all the other things.

KONDRACKE: He is not an outreach to Independents. That's would be his one problem.

BARNES: McCain will have to...

KONDRACKE: McCain will with have to be ahead.

Hillary Clinton is practically offering the vice presidency to Barack Obama. If he will fad away or melt or something like that. I think if she gets the nomination, she wrests it from him, she will have to offer it to him because the African-Americans and young people are going to insist upon it.

If Obama wins the nomination, however, he does not have to offer the vice presidency to Hillary Clinton. And he probably wouldn't want to. But he might want to reach into her camp and get somebody like Evan Bayh of Indiana, who is strong on national defense and knows how to run things. The best name I have heard on the Democratic side is Sam Nunn, a heavy weight foreign policy expert.

BARNES: It will never happen. You know why he wouldn't offer it to Hillary?


BARNES: Because she would take it.

That's all for this week. Joins us next week when the boys will be back in town.

Watch "The Beltway Boys" Saturday at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday at 1 and 6 a.m. ET

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