Friday Lightning Round: Debt Negotiations, Ron Paul

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 13, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: But we are talking here about spending reductions, there will be no tax increases in connection with raising the debt ceiling.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Every week viewers vote for your choice online, the Friday Lightning Round. This week the winner was, as you could hear there, the debt ceiling, 52 percent of the vote. We're back with our panel. That vote is coming up. Karen, the Treasury Secretary says the limit will be August now. Where are we do you think on Capitol Hill and has the tide changed as far as the debt ceiling vote?

KAREN TUMULTY, WASHINGTON POST: Well what you are finding is more and more resistance among rank and file Republicans to the idea that this is a must pass item. And I think that is increasingly becoming a challenge for the leadership.

But I also was intrigued by Mitch McConnell deciding to step up to this, because Mitch McConnell is among many things at heart a legislator. And he has often said that he really thinks that times of divided government are times when you can actually get big things done. So the fact that he wants entitlement reform on the table as part of this, I think says a lot.

BAIER: Tucker?

TUCKER CARLSON, EDITOR, THEDAILYCALLER.COM: Republicans don't want to raise the debt ceiling. Of course they will, in the end. The question is what will they get in return for doing that? And the further question is, if they're gonna get cuts. When will those cuts take place? The Republican leadership will say, well we're gonna offset the raise by the same amount in cuts, but listen carefully to when those cuts take place. If they take place in the next year, they're significant. If they're phased in over the next ten years, they're not significant. That's the key.

BAIER: But do Republicans feel more -- well, they feel emboldened by the current environment.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Absolutely. And the polls showing that almost half of Americans don't want to raise it under any circumstances whatsoever, cuts or not, I think really strengthens the Republicans' hand. So there is nothing in public opinion that would support a Democratic idea of a clean bill.

I think Tucker is right. What McConnell wants to get are cuts in the next year or two, which will lower the baseline in future years. And it will be real cuts essentially repeated year after year if the baseline is lowered. And he doesn't want out-year cuts because any Congress in the future would be able to overturn that.

BAIER: Next up, we said the presidential candidate talk was over but I do want to focus on Ron Paul's announcement, making it official today. He obviously was at the debate in South Carolina, and he gets a lot of attention. Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: When you watch him, he has this irresistible oddball charm. He is important figure because libertarian is a very important strain in our politics and our history, but he is not a serious presidential candidate because libertarianism is not a governing ideology. He wants to abolish the Federal Reserve, FEMA. He's against the killing of Usama bin Laden for reasons I'm not sure I understand of international law. He's got these kind of kooky ideas which you cannot have in a president.

BAIER: E-mails to Charles. Karen?

TUMULTY: It is as much as Ron Paul does have a very enthusiastic following it is hard to imagine somebody winning a Republican primary who is against the war in Afghanistan and who is for the legalization of heroin.

BAIER: Although, Tucker, he will say that a lot of things he's been talking about since the '70s, people are now talking about.

CARLSON: And, in fact, some of his warnings turned out to be true, I would say. And it's further true that Ron Paul and the strain of Libertarianism he represents has greatly influenced the Republican Party, in fact, in mainstream America.

I would say unfortunately, as someone who's sympathetic to some of the ideas he espouses it's completely unhelpful when he says things as he did other day like we should have consulted Pakistan before killing Usama bin Laden. I think discredits him as a political figure, and I say that with sadness.

BAIER: New York's House race coming up in just a matter of days. This is the seat to fill former Chris Lee -- Rep. Chris Lee, who resigned, stepped down. And this is a battle. Tucker, what about this, and the Republican Jane Corwin and Kathy Hochul, the Democrat?

CARLSON: Well, I think Corwin is an impressive candidate and I think she could win this race. There have been some missteps, as you know and I think they've been reported on this show. I'm watching Jack Davis, who is the self-described Tea Party candidate, who I think without question is gonna take votes away from the Republican Jane Corwin. Jack Davis it turns out has run for Congress three times before as Democrat, endorsed Barack Obama in last cycle's presidential election. I think there's a lot of evidence that he's a phony Tea Party candidate. Not clear how he got on the ballot, who's backing him. But if she loses it'll be due to him.

BAIER: Karen, there is a lot of money going into this race.

TUMULTY: And the Democrats have had a pretty good streak of winning these special elections over the last three years.

BAIER: Even in the heavily Republican district.

TUMULTY: And even when they don't necessarily reflect the sort of next cycle's regular elections. But the Democrats have become very good at winning these special elections. And it's not at all surprising that they focused on this one and that they'e turned it in to a competitive race.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: If it's lost it's because of Davis, the Democrat who's masquerading as a Tea Party guy. He's got a quarter of the vote in the last poll. You take it away where it would be in the Republican camp, the Republicans would win easily.

But there is one other handicap that the Republican has. She's having trouble defending the Ryan proposal on Medicare. It's not easy to do, but it can be done. I think it's defensible. I think in fact, it's an excellent idea. But you've got to be fluent in this, you've got to be fast on your feet, and you have to know your stuff. If you fumble on that, you're gonna lose the election.

BAIER: We will follow it every step of the way. That is it for the panel, but stay tuned for an interesting sit down with the Secretary of State.

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