This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from March 2, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CLAY SHAW, R-FLA.: We were careful not to just zero in on this transaction. We’re concerned about the whole question of foreign operators doing business here in the United States.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER, R-CALIF., HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We should require critical U.S. infrastructure to remain in U.S. hands. To those who say my views smack of protectionism, I say America is worth protecting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIT HUME, HOST: And, of course, what has triggered the concerns of those two Republican chaps, not to mention many of their Democratic colleagues, and it is, of course, the Dubai Ports World deal under which this company from Dubai would take over operations, if not security at a set of American ports.
So question: You heard Rep. Duncan Hunter say, smacks of protectionism? I say America is worth protecting. You hear Rep. Clay Shaw say we’re concerned about the whole question of foreign operators doing business here in the United States.
I don’t recall them having that concern when the foreign operators were British. I don’t recall them having that concern until it turned out that an Arab country was going to have operational control of or at least partial operational control, any way, of six U.S. ports.
Is there not an element of ethnic discrimination here?
MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: Well, you know, what most of these people would say, and Clay Shaw is saying it, and Hillary Clinton is saying it, is that these are foreign government-owned entities. And the legislation that Shaw introduced and the legislation that Hillary Clinton is behind say no foreign government can operate an entity.
HUME: Well, what about Costco, which operates that port out of California?
KONDRACKE: Exactly. China should be excluded, as well, under these...
HUME: Now, that is supposedly a privately held company, but China basically controls it, correct?
KONDRACKE: Well, and I think that if this...
HUME: And that was all done during the Clinton years, and I don’t recall Mrs. Clinton being too upset about that.
KONDRACKE: No, no, suddenly discovered this. But according to the sponsors of these bills, Chinese government-owned entities would also be affected by all of that. Look, I think that the administration has got an incredible educating job to do about how the world economy is put together. I mean, we’ve been living in a globalized...
HUME: What, you think Clay Shaw doesn’t know?
KONDRACKE: Well, Clay Shaw, I think, is responding to the polls, to the fact that he’s from Florida and the company that wanted to buy this — I don’t know this for a fact, but it’s suspicious that a lot of people in Florida are suddenly very against this sale because of the company that wanted to buy the ports, instead of the Dubai company, was a Florida-based company. And they...
HUME: I thought it was a Singapore-based company.
KONDRACKE: No, I believe it’s a Florida-based company.
HUME: All right. We won’t go there, but there was a Florida company that stands to be affected by this. That’s as much as we know.
NINA EASTON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, BOSTON GLOBE: Well, in fairness, let’s step back a second. I mean, we’ve been told that we should be wary of non-democratic Islamic regimes that don’t recognize the state of Israel. You know, that’s sort of been pounded into the public’s head.
And suddenly, the public’s supposed to say, "Oh, it’s OK, but it’s ok for one of those to run a port"? And I just — it’s a big, as Mort said, it’s a big sales job. I mean, you’re moving a huge freighter in this public relations sea...
HUME: Right, but does this not come down, in any sense, to a kind of a nativist outlook?
EASTON: Well, I think that there’s a nativist outlook that goes even beyond this. And there was a big poll that Pew did last November that showed the number of people who think that we should just get out of the world, mind our own business, is at something like 44 percent. It’s the highest that it’s been since the end of the Vietnam War and then the end of the Cold War.
So people — and they attributed that to the Iraq war. So this sort of sense of this isolationist sensibility was taking off even before this deal.
BILL SAMMON, SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, it’s unfortunate because, you know, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have foreign investment in the United States, just as it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to have American investment in foreign countries.
And I think this strain of nativism and isolationism that you’re seeing in this proposed legislation is very alarming to business interests that make their livelihood from international trade. And if we’re going to start shutting down international trade, we’re going to be going against the trend of globalism and it’s going to hurt us economically.
And I do think that there is some prejudice involved here. You know, not only — you talked about the Chinese deals during the Clinton administration. I remember when Hutchison Whampoa, which was a Chinese company controlled by Beijing, took control of the Panama Canal at both ends under the Clinton administration.
I tried writing about that, and no one — the Congress was utterly uninterested. The press yawned. And you’re talking about communist Chinese taking over the Panama Canal. And now all of a sudden you have a Republican conservative president in there, and everybody is going nuclear, because he’s allowing this sale to go through. So I think there’s a little bit of a double standard there.
HUME: Is the Iraq war the predicate here, though, for all of this? Is that what’s created, as Nina suggests, the atmosphere?
SAMMON: I think so. I think...
HUME: Mort, do you think so?
KONDRACKE: No, I think it’s also immigration. I mean, you’ve got these radio talk show hosts and some TV talk show hosts who are yelling, "We’re being invaded, and jobs are going overseas." And they don’t understand how connected to the world we are.
HUME: That’s it for the panel.
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