Transcript: 'The Beltway Boys,' January 5, 2008

This is a rush transcript from "The Beltway Boys", January 5, 2008, that has been edited for clarity.

MORT KONDRACKE, FOX CO-HOST: Coming up on "The Beltway Boys," on to New Hampshire. Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee trying to keep the mo-jo going headed into the Granite State.

FRED BARNES, FOX CO-HOST: Beaten, but unbowed. We'll tell you how Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney are trying to regroup.

KONDRACKE: The real comeback kid could be John McCain. He's got his sight set on another New Hampshire win

BARNES: And we'll talk to a leading pollster about the pluses and minuses for the top candidates.

KONDRACKE: I'm Mort Kondracke.

BARNES: I'm Fred Barnes. And we're "The Beltway Boys." Welcome to New Hampshire. Coming to you from the campus in Saint Anselm College in Manchester. On Tuesday, voters get in this state get their turn to vote in the red-hot presidential election.

And, Mort, this is a New Hampshire showdown. That's our hot story. And it's very simple, Barack Obama versus Hillary Rodham Clinton. And if this were a football game, we'd be calling it the game of the century.

And that's not much of an exaggeration. Look, I am — I mean, this one is way overshadows. Al Gore versus Bill Bradley here in 2000. And a lot bigger than 2004 when John Kerry won. This is up there. Obama versus Hillary, right up there with Jimmy Carter versus Ted Kennedy in 1980.

And Barack Obama, after having whipped Hillary Clinton in Iowa, now has a chance, I think, to take command of the Democratic presidential race. Not necessarily be a prohibitive frontrunner, but he'd be the guy.

Now, on the Republican side, Mitt Romney got waxed in Iowa by Mike Huckabee, but up here in New Hampshire, it is Mitt Romney versus John McCain. You know, Mr. Straight talk. Now, they're not exactly a battle of the Titans, but they're the battle of the almost Titans. I mean, it's big. And they both have the same goal here in New Hampshire, absolute goal where they have to win because they want to be the comeback kids.

You remember McCain's campaign virtually collapsed last summer, but he's been on the rise since then. And they both need a win because their futures, as Republican presidential candidates, depend on it.

KONDRACKE: Yeah, now, look the Iowa results, Obama winning over Hillary and John Edwards by eight points, and Huckabee beating Romney by 9 points, I think, were the triumph certain values — freshness, honesty, openness, hope, optimism. All of those good things.

BARNES: Those Kondracke values.

KONDRACKE: Exactly, an overt calculation and plasticity and anger and the past. Now, Iowa is 1200 miles away from New Hampshire, but I think that the same sort of impulses prevailed here and the same kind of appeal is being made by all the candidates. And if those values prevail here, as they did in Iowa, then I think, Obama has to be favored again against over Hillary. And in this case, it's McCain, I think, over Romney, with Huckabee making an appearance, because he's on a roll.

BARNES: Yeah, he gets a pass here, Huckabee does. Any head way he makes will help him.

All right, let's take a look where the major candidates stand headed into Tuesday's primary.

First, the Democrats. Up: Barack Obama. Having taken down the Clinton machine in Iowa. Obama is in the drivers is set heeded into news's primary and here is Obama in New Hampshire talking about his Iowa win.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We won with everybody. We won with Democrats, Republicans, Independents. We won the young vote. We won the old vote. We won the union vote. We won the non-union vote. We won men and women, black and white. We gave thousands of people, who had never participated in politics before, a reason to believe.


KONDRACKE: Well, look, I think he's right. He is an op to something here. The turnout in Iowa was double what it had been in any previous primary which bodes very well...

BARNES: Caucus.

KONDRACKE: Caucus, I mean. Which bodes well for the Democratic Party in general. They had a much bigger increase than the Republicans did and for once, young people actually turned out. And I mean, everybody always says at that young people, now, talk a good game and never show up.

I think something big is happening here and I think it has to do with Obama's message, which is a message that we've got to move beyond the polarization and the partisan warfare of the 1990's. We've got to solve our problems across party lines.

Now, I know you're going to say, because you always do, that Obama's a liberal. How is he ever going to reach...

BARNES: Well, he is.

KONDRACKE: Well — how is he going to reach out to Republicans? I grant you it's a legitimate issue.

BARNES: Good. Thank you for that.

KONDRACKE: For governing. And the question is — but right now, the issue is, the message to Democratic voters. And I think they are desperately — and all kinds of people want what Obama is planning to deliver.

BARNES: All right, look, Obama has a couple of things. It's not that he's in change, he's likeable and people like the candidate.

KONDRACKE: That's true, too.

BARNES: And he's inspiring. The speech at the Iowa aye dinner a few weeks as was incredible. But he's a conventional liberal, Mort. And I would feel better about his theme, a great theme, bring us together and so on. If in his three years-plus in the Senate, he'd brought somebody together. He hadn't, across partisan lines, anyway.

KONDRACKE: OK. And down: Hillary Clinton. Political reality hits the Clinton campaign hard as Hillary's aura of in the inevitability is ended. Here is her pitch to New Hampshire now.


HILLARY CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running for president because I know we can do this. And this is especially about all of the young people in New Hampshire, who need a president — who need a president who won't just call for change, or a president who won't just demand change, but a president who will produce change, just like I've been doing for 35 years.


BARNES: Mort, what in the world is she talking about? 35 years, you know, she's been riding on her husband's shoulders. She hasn't produced anything. Produced change, she hasn't done it.

The Clinton presidency, remember that '92, to 2000. That was the bill Clinton presidency, she was first lady. And this is one of the reasons the same argument she used in Iowa, where her husband said she was the greatest presidential candidate ever, that's why it won't fly. And now she'll pick on Obama and say he's not specific enough, he's vague, which is true. It isn't going to work.

KONDRACKE: She's got more experience than a bystander would.

BARNES: She said she produced change.

KONDRACKE: She was there advising Clinton all the way on most things. But look, look, experience and electability are her strengths. Change, however, seems to be what the voters want and that's her problem. She's got to figure out how to say what change she is actually produced and — and to also say and carefully why Obama can't produce change.

BARNES: The answer to that, how much change she's produced, none.

All right, now, John Edwards, he beat Hillary by a nose in Iowa, but appeal in New Hampshire is limited. And it's not clear if he has the money or the organization to compete down the road.

KONDRACKE: Now, look, he was Mr. Sunshine in 2004. Now he's Mr. Anger. He's Lou Dobbs. He's a trial lawyer, going to take on corporate greed and that kind of stuff. That's not what the public wants. The public does not want anger, they want convergence, get problems solved across party lines, I say. That's the Obama appeal, that's the Huckabee appeal, the McCain appeal.

BARNES: Convergence?

KONDRACKE: Convergence.

BARNES: Harmonic convergence — whatever. Have you seen the Gallup poll? 84 percent of the American people think everything is fine and doing well. When you have an angry message saying I'm going to bring down corporate America. I don't think that sells. Particularly people are worried about housing prices going down. But bringing down corporate America is not going to help on that. So I think that Edwards is on the chute going down.

Coming up, we'll take a look at the Republican field and whether the Huckaboom will be a Huckabust in New Hampshire. Stay with us.


KONDRACKE: Welcome back to "The Beltway Boys." We're coming to you from the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. We're taking a look at where the major candidates are headed into the Republican primary.

Now, the Republicans. Up: Mike Huckabee. He's headed into the Granite State with a full head of steam after a decisive win in Iowa. here is what he's been saying in New Hampshire. Watch.


MIKE HUCKABEE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In New Hampshire, it's not just about how much money a candidate is raised, it's what kind of future and ideas are going to be raised for the next generation. And if any of us have a great responsibility when we run for office, it's not so much to say, hey, look over there, let me tell you what's wrong with the guy running against me. It's to, first of all, say there are things still right with this nation, but there are things we could do better.


KONDRACKE: Your hear that positive message?

BARNES: He's good.

KONDRACKE: He came into New Hampshire before the Iowa victory running third, a distant third, 10 percent tied with Giuliani, and he's come here and he's playing his Guitar again and talking about middle class anxiety and bringing the country together and stuff like that. He's not talking about religion and not talking about abortion and not talking about the sanctity of marriage and stuff like that, that played well among evangelicals in Iowa, who turned out to be 60 percent, a huge part of the Republican vote, which he won.

Now he's talking about, what I said before, eliminating that religious, why? There aren't that many evangelicals here. If he can move from a sudden third to a close third or maybe even second, then he is on his way to being a national candidate. I think it's going to have — he going to have a hard time in urban states like New Jersey and maybe California, but South Carolina, Michigan, Florida, I mean, he could be a national contender.

BARNES: Yeah, no, I think he's a national candidate already. I don't know whether he's going to — whether he's a real — he has a real shot at the nomination.

In any case, what you're saying, Mort, is that Mike Huckabee is a very clever candidate. you're absolutely right about that. He must have realized early in Iowa that Mitt Romney is the perfect foil for him.

Here is Romney, you know, this rich corporate turn around artist who has been very successful in everything he's tried.

KONDRACKE: The guy who laid you off.

BARNES: Huh. The guy who laid you off?

Believe me, the Democrats will use that against if he's nominated. But then so, Huckabee, recognizing that, comes across as the guy, you know, I'm worried about the little guy. He's the populist and lower middle income and rural voters and so on, all those people who loved Ronald Reagan, and they rallied not to Mike Huckabee. And the truth is there are a lot of them around the country. It's not just in Iowa. Maybe not in New Hampshire, but other states, as you've said. Your analysis would be brilliant.

Let me move on, now. Down: Mitt Romney. His slingshot strategy that is winning in the early states, propelling him into Super Tuesday, took a serious hit after the thumping on Iowa. He's Romney on what he needs to do now.


MITT ROMNEY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think most people who become president of the United States came in first thing under third in Iowa and first or second in New Hampshire. So I'm looking to do well in New Hampshire and looking to win in New Hampshire. I was really pleased I was able to come in second place, ahead of McCain, ahead of Giuliani, Thompson in Iowa. And if I can do the same thing here, I'm on a good track.


BARNES: Yeah, ahead of McCain — he better be ahead of McCain here in New Hampshire, because, as he — I pointed out, the early state strategy is simple. It depends on winning in the states.


BARNES: There's not that many of them. Iowa, he lost that, and New Hampshire, then Michigan, South Carolina. and you've got to win at least two of those, and — but the problem is if you lose Iowa and New Hampshire that means your chance of winning the party's nomination are pretty thin. And in Iowa, Romney found out how narrow his constituency is at the moment, you know. It was sort of upscale, professionals, and yuppies and, you know, business people and so on, and it — he's got to cut into that Reagan-Huckabee constituency.

KONDRACKE: Before Iowa, he had lost his lead to McCain. And after all, Massachusetts is right next door. This ought to be his state, going away. And what's hurting him is that he fails in the A-word, authenticity. He is a guy who was once a moderate. When he was running in Massachusetts he was a moderate on social issues and even economic issues. Then he suddenly decided he's going to run for president and he retooled himself entirely into being a somewhat hard-line conservative on all of the issues. And lo and behold, he finds out that the product that he manufactured himself into is not the product that people are buying. That's his problem.

BARNES: Were your relatives one of those companies, streamlined and they got laid off or something?


BARNES: Are you sure?


BARNES: Wait a minute. Up: John McCain. He is surging in New Hampshire exactly at the right time. And a battered Mitt Romney gives him the perfect opening for another Granite State win. Here is what McCain's showing, trademark humor, in Hudson, New Hampshire. Watch.


JOHN MCCAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Since 1980, the candidate that's won two of the first three primaries has been the next president or nominee of the party —.the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary, and the South Carolina primary. By the way, you may recall that in 2000, we won here and then I lost in South Carolina. And after I lost in South Carolina, I slept like a baby.


Sleep two hours, wake up and cry. Sleep two hours, wake up and cry.



KONDRACKE: Look, McCain is the real deal. I mean, he tells it like it is and takes the consequences. And for a while he was taking the consequences. I think if he wins here, he wins in Michigan, wins in South Carolina, he could be the nominee.

And, if Obama wins the Democratic nominee you could have a clean contest of sort of new versus old, hawk versus dove, liberal versus conservative and the country could come together after it was over. It would not be a nasty mean old campaign as in the past.

BARNES: Nasty, mean old campaign. I love that, sleep two hours, wake up two hours. And I've slept that way sometimes and I didn't even lose in South Carolina.

Look, I ran into Phil Graham, the former Senator, and explained exactly why he, a conservative, likes McCain. He has moral authority on foreign policy and veto spending bills and is a free trader, and a committed free trader. All three good things.


Coming up we'll talk to pollster Frank Luntz about what focus groups are telling him about the leading candidates. Stay with us.


BARNES: Welcome back to "The Beltway Boys." Joining us here in Manchester is veteran pollster and our buddy, Frank Luntz. He's spoken with focus groups all through the nominating process, endlessly it seems, and joins us now.

Frank, we are going to get your take on post-Iowa before New Hampshire where you think the candidates stands. Starting with the Democrats, Barack Obama.

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: Obama clearly is the candidate of change. His message is positive and hopeful. The key for him is he's got to have a couple of policies to give some real — some meat on the bones. For Obama, I would not change anything except for one, probably health care. Take Hillary on where she's strongest. If he can come through with some specifics, I think he'll be successful. And by the way, I think he wins New Hampshire.

BARNES: OK. Hillary Clinton?

LUNTZ: She's got to show heart. You know, months ago, she should have said I made a mistake in the vote I made in Iraq. Everyone knows she's smart. Everyone knows she's got a — a brain and they know she's tough, but what they want to hear from her is that she can emoting, that she's got empathy for them and voters have empathy for her. But now, she's doesn't show it.

BARNES: Yeah. I want to show you a video here from Iowa. And you know, everybody, well, on at that stage was smiling even though she finished third. What was that about?

LUNTZ: Well, you've got to. Let's face it you've got to do that, but I don't know if you've got it, but the difference between Obama's speech on election night in Iowa and Hillary Clinton's was night and day. She was sounding like she was the winner. And everyone new knew that she lost.

Obama had young people around them and enthusiasm. People were active. And the important thing is Obama really is getting young people to vote for him.

BARNES: All right, Frank, control yourself on the subject of Obama. Anyway, John Edwards?

LUNTZ: John Edwards needs— I agree what you said earlier that when you trash corporate America, it turns people off. The key for Edwards and why he did as well as he did in Iowa is that in the last thee weeks of the campaign, he focused on fighting for the forgotten middle class, showing empathy for the struggling middle class. If that were his message, he would have done better in Iowa. The bashing of corporate America takes him to 15 percent. Fighting for the middle class can take him as high as 30.

KONDRACKE: Let me ask you a last question about the Democrats. Hillary still has a national lead. Does that mean anything or is she finished if she slows here?

LUNTZ: That's exactly the point. I hear people writing her off already because of Iowa. A whole the lot of people win Iowa and go on not to become the nominee. I believe that Hillary Clinton is by far the mow likely candidate for president because you only five weeks between now and Super Tuesday to knock her down 20 points nationwide. Tough to do, virtually impossible.

KONDRACKE: Now the Republicans, quickly, Frank. Huckabee, what does he have to do to be the nominee? What primaries does he have to win and can win?

LUNTZ: He has to win — he doesn't have win here, but if he comes in second, it's going to blow people away. He's got to win in South Carolina and three or four out of Super Tuesday.

The key for Huckabee is he's got three debates in the next week. And I predict that, nationwide, he's over 20 percent in the polls, ten days from now.

KONDRACKE: OK. Romney and McCain, what do they have to do?

LUNTZ: Romney has to win in New Hampshire. For you to lose Iowa and New Hampshire after so spending much time will make it hard for Romney to continue. Although he does have enough money.

For McCain, a win in New Hampshire will be the first time the candidate counted out the middle of the process, dropped support, then come back up. A lot of people are saying that John McCain may be the guy that goes all the way.

KONDRACKE: Do you think he will?

LUNTZ: I can't call it. We've got five candidates, over 10 percent nationwide, same thing in South Carolina. It's chaos, guys.

KONDRACKE: OK, what about the former great hopes of the Republican Party, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson? I mean, are they finished or what?

LUNTZ: Well, I think it says a lot about Fred Thompson. He's not even in the state, that he went to McLane, Virginia. I don't know too many New Hampshire voters shopping at Tyson's Corners today.

And as for Rudy Giuliani, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, he's leaving them behind. No one is focused on him and this is the only conversation about Giuliani. This guy's got to get back in the race or he's not in the race.

KONDRACKE: Can he get back into the race?

LUNTZ: He's correct that, as long as he held the lead in Super Tuesday, all the delegates get delivered and this is all window dressing. The problem is, if he's not part of the coverage, if you're not hearing what he has to say, he will continue to fall. And now there's actually national surveys that show him losing to John McCain.

KONDRACKE: Thanks, Frank. Don't go anywhere now.

Our predictions for New Hampshire are coming up next.


KONDRACKE: Welcome back to beltway boys. It's predictions time. Fred and I are in agreement, on the Democratic side, Barack Obama will win the New Hampshire primary, followed by Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. And on the Republican side, John McCain followed by Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee.

BARNES: Well, that's it for "The Beltway Boys" this week. Stay with the FOX News channel for the latest headed into Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. And join us next week when the boys will be back in town.

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