Laura Schwartz on Rumsfeld-Clinton Showdown

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 3, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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JOHN KASICH, GUEST HOST: In the "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight, a heated showdown on Capitol Hill today during hearings on the Iraq war. Senator Hillary Clinton versus Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, D-N.Y.: This is not 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, when you appeared before this Committee and made many comments and presented many assurances that have frankly proven to be unfulfilled and...

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Senator, I don't think that's true. I have never painted a rosy picture.


KASICH: Well, you know, obviously a lot of politics. But as always, who really knows?

Joining us now from Chicago, Democratic strategist Laura Schwartz, a former special assistant to President Clinton.

All right, Laura, look, I don't have anything against Hillary on this. And this is not some partisan attack. But I got to tell you, she shows up in the hearing and she reads a statement attacking Rumsfeld. And that was about the end of it. It seemed to me as though it was a lot of political theater. Your take?

LAURA SCHWARTZ, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, you know, Senator Clinton takes serving on the Armed Services Committee very seriously, being especially the first New York senator ever to be able to have that opportunity to serve.

And she was there from front to finish for this committee hearing today, taking notes throughout. And that's what she read from, notes. It wasn't a script.

And she remained the persistent and consistent critic on the conduct of how the president has run this war.

KASICH: Now, that wasn't notes. That wasn't notes. That was a statement. It was a script.

And let me tell you, I've been there. And I tell you what they did. Last night, they sat down and figured out what she was going to say and how she was going to position herself. I mean, that's OK. They all do it. She knew this wasn't some off-the-cuff deal or some emotional speech. This was written — this was a statement.

SCHWARTZ: This is the same thing that she's been saying to her constituents in New York, especially now she's in a re-election campaign this fall.

And John, as you did, when you were there, you represent the constituents.


SCHWARTZ: And right now, the constituents, the majority believe we are going in the wrong direction in this war. And she believes we disbanded the Iraqi army too early, we didn't go in with enough troops.

And as she mentioned today, too, it's also about Afghanistan. Bush and Rumsfeld both said in 2002 that they were done. But, yet, in the last two months, we've seen more and more fighting from the Taliban. And you know what? Today, Rumsfeld said, oh, well, that's a seasonal thing...

KASICH: Laura? Laura? First of all — wait a minute. Hold on. Nobody said Afghanistan was done or easy. We've just made the transition to — nobody said that.

SCHWARTZ: They said the Taliban is gone in Afghanistan.

KASICH: Nobody said that.

SCHWARTZ: In 2002, it was even on the AP today. It was verified.

KASICH: Laura, we've been worried about Afghanistan from the beginning. In fact, we were worried.

SCHWARTZ: Well, then we should have sent more people there instead of refocusing on Iraq.

KASICH: OK. First, here's the thing, Laura.

SCHWARTZ: And use the coalition we built up after 9/11.

KASICH: I understand this. I understand what you're saying. I was on the Armed Services Committee. But you know what? When I was on the committee and I questioned people, I had answers. I had solutions. I had suggestions.

I didn't hear anything today. I don't hear anything from any of the people carping and whining about this. All I hear them do is criticize. Where's the constructive suggestions? Murtha at least's made some suggestions. Where are Hillary's?

SCHWARTZ: One, international conference. The first thing that the Democrats have said is that we need an international conference to sustain the economic stability and the economic reconstruction of Iraq. Two.

KASICH: Laura, they won't even get involved in Iraq. I mean, who are we going to have this meeting with? The French and Germans?

SCHWARTZ: Let's call for — let's have a consistent.

KASICH: I mean, I'm all for cooperation.

SCHWARTZ: We have to look at it politically and find a way for the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shiites to amend the constitution so they share the power.

There are political and diplomatic relations we have never even tried to do. And the military prospect of this war is failing. It's getting worse, not better. You know, we can't just keep.

KASICH: I don't disagree with that, Laura. But look.

SCHWARTZ: You can play Whack-A-Mole.

KASICH: You know what we may be finding? We are in the middle really of a civil war. And one of the Generals said it today. And to say that we can have more conversations with Sadr and Hakim and that we can get the Sunnis and Shia to live together, the fact is we may have stuck our head into something that cannot be solved by us, huh?

SCHWARTZ: I agree with you, John. It's a sad state that we are in. But, you know, we are there. We've got to deal with it.

KASICH: I would just like some suggestions, less criticism, more suggestions, and constructive suggestions.

But, I always love when you're on the show. And thank you, Laura, for being with us.

SCHWARTZ: Hey, thanks, John.

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