Is President Obama Stoking Class Warfare?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 22, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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JUAN WILLIAMS, GUEST HOST: Let's get right to our top story: Americans' dismal view of where things are heading in this country.

According to the latest New York Times poll, 70 percent of adults surveyed think the country is on the wrong track. Only 26 percent think we're headed in the right direction. When it comes to economic issues, the folks aren't pleased with the president or the GOP: 57 percent disapprove of how Mr. Obama is handling the economy and almost six in 10 don't approve of how he's dealing with the deficit. And about the same number disapprove of the GOP's handling of the deficit.

The president has been all over the country this week pushing his economic vision. One major theme has been pitting the rich against the poor.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: I'm rooting for everybody to get rich, but I believe that we can't ask everybody to sacrifice and then tell the wealthiest among us, "Well, you can just relax and go count your money and don't worry about it. We're not going to ask anything of you."


WILLIAMS: Joining us now from Los Angeles, liberal radio talk show host and Fox News analyst Leslie Marshall, and from Washington, Andrew Breitbart, author of the brand-new book, "Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World."

Andrew Breitbart, let me start with you and say that, in fact, most Americans agree with the president the rich should be taxed more. But I'm thinking, you know, wait a minute, this is also a politician who sees the numbers, sees that his numbers, his approval ratings are going down. So could it be that this is just a desperate politician who is playing class warfare in an attempt to save himself as he heads towards the re-election contest?

ANDREW BREITBART, CONSERVATIVE BLOGGER: I think it's a very dangerous strategy. I have been to Wisconsin twice over the last few months, and what we don't -- what we have here is not just people protesting the pro-public sector unions. Many people organized by Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO, who has visited the White House more than anyone. You don't just have these protesters who are -- who are being fed this class warfare and the anger is palpable in the air there but you now have the Tea Party. And I'm worried about class warfare being played up into this summer with a bad economy, bad gas prices, and you now have Americans pitted against each other. And that comical language that he used, you know, making it appear as if every rich person is greedy. It -- it -- I -- I'm very nervous about the tone that he is setting for this country going into a bad economy, going into a hot summer.

WILLIAMS: All right. Leslie, this is an interesting point. I want to hear you on it. Clearly President Obama promised when he was running in '08 that he was going to be the unifier. He was going to bring us together. But here he is playing the class card if you will. What do you think?

LESLIE MARSHALL, LIBERAL RADIO HOST: Well, I think actually, Juan, he is continuing and going back in a sense to his original promise, at least to those of us on the left like myself that voted for him. He has always said that he did not want an extension to the Bush tax cuts. He said when he did it, it was temporary. It was begrudgingly done. And, quite frankly, we already have class warfare. We have the have and the have-nots. The problem is the haves are not taking care of the have-nots. The middle working class is actually being annihilated in America. And to whom much is given as much is expected. So if you are wealthy, if you're making $250,000 a year or more, that is rich, especially to so many Americans who are struggling. And that's why you see the numbers in support of not giving these benefits to the rich throughout the country.

WILLIAMS: Well, Andrew, now Leslie makes an interesting point that it -- that we do, as a nation, have a terrible debt. We are having spent and the need for spending cuts. So we're going to have to do something and possibly that something would include raising revenue. That means hiking taxes. So, shouldn't the rich have to pay a little more?

BREITBART: You know what? Right now, big businesses are -- there is an -- there is an environment out there that is not there to get the economy chugging along. Unemployment is so high and you have the actual guys that create the businesses, who create the jobs, people like the Koch brothers, demonized by this administration. It's not a good environment right now to create jobs. That's how you create wealth. That's how you stimulate the economy. The wealthy are already paying a grotesque disproportionate amount of the taxation in this country, and I say that as a middle-class person who has a mortgage and two car payments. I'm not one of the rich.

WILLIAMS: But, in fact, you know, the contrary point would be that the rich have a disproportionate share of the wealth in the country. And at a time of sacrifice, if you're talking about making major cuts to programs like Medicare and Medicaid, even Social Security, isn't it fair to say hey, you know what? You might create jobs but it's also the case that America is a stable place where you do business and where you gain that wealth you're going to have to share in the burden?

BREITBART: Well, that -- ultimately we are in the middle of a philosophical battle in this country. When I've gone down to the public sector union protests, there's a lot of signs that openly say socialism, the class warfare is there. These are two competing philosophies. There are people who actually believe that if you allow the wealthy to keep more of their money that they'll invest it for the future. They'll create more jobs

WILLIAMS: So Leslie, this brings us right to presidential politics in a way. Donald Trump is now saying that he will be the White House's worst nightmare, that Obama does not want to run against him. He will destroy President Obama. Are you buying it, Leslie?

MARSHALL: Well, you know, normally, Juan, I would say, "Are you kidding? Put him on that side, yes. This will be great for the Democrats." But I'm sitting in the state of California where the "Terminator" became our "Governator" and it was not a movie, unfortunately for me and many others in California. No experience, a lot of celebrity and a lot of cult of personality. And we're seeing more of that in politics. So I would say don't under estimate "The Donald." He's got a reality show, Juan. That seems to be some of the credentials you need on the right to run for president nowadays.

WILLIAMS: Wait a minute. Don't underestimate him coming from the left. But you want him to run, don't you, Leslie? You'd get a kick out of this. You think this will be fun. And now but I'm thinking the reason you're saying this is you think it will destroy the Republican Party. That's what you're really thinking.

MARSHALL: Well, I honestly think right now that way -- what I'm hearing from the GOP as opposed to the "Tea-publican" faction of the Republican Party, that is a huge division because the Tea Party members of the GOP love him and the old school GOP do not. And I don't think they'll come together on that. But quite frankly, this -- celebrity goes a long way. Remember the No. 1 reason people vote for a candidate, Juan, is name recognition.

WILLIAMS: Yes, but Leslie…

MARSHALL: Donald Trump has got huge name recognition.

WILLIAMS: …you are a Machiavellian player. You're looking to absolutely divide the Republicans, take them out of the game before they even have to run against Obama. But Andrew Breitbart, let me come back to the point that Leslie makes. If the old-line Republicans do not like Donald Trump. They point out to me all the time: He's flip-flopped on abortion. He's a guy who said he was for gay marriage; now it's not clear if he is against gay marriage, shouldn't marry. He is a guy who is, you know, tough in terms of saying he is for health care one moment. Now he says he is against health care reform. Andrew, is -- is Donald Trump a conservative?

BREITBART: Of course he is not a conservative. He was for Nancy Pelosi before he was against Nancy Pelosi. But this is a message to those candidates who are languishing at two and three percent within the Republican Party who are brand names in Washington, but the rest of the country don't know. Leslie is absolutely correct about star and celebrity. Celebrity is everything in this country, and if these guys don't learn how to play the media the way that Barack Obama played the media last election cycle and the way that Donald Trump is playing the election cycle, we're going to probably get a celebrity candidate.

WILLIAMS: Wow. Leslie, Andrew, thanks for joining us this evening.

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