Obama Shows Progress on Iran, But ...

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 23, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Did the president change his tone today about Iran, or his GOP critics -- are they still not satisfied? Congressman Pete Hoekstra, ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said the president was stubbornly holding onto this belief that negotiations with the current regime is the best way forward. Well, what does the congressman think now?

Congressman Pete Hoekstra joins us live here in Washington. Well, sir, after today's press conference, have you changed your mind?

REP. PETE HOEKSTRA, R – MICH.: Well, I think it's progress, but I think the president is still not fully capturing the opportunity that is in front of him. You know, this is -- this could be a real game changer, you know, the protests in the street, and the president is, you know, slowly moving. But I think, you know, as Lindsey was talking about, this is an opportunity for the president to come out and forcefully speak in favor of democracy and freedom, and he hasn't done it yet. He's not supporting the people on the streets in Iran.

VAN SUSTEREN: How -- what's our source of information? Because we've got the problem we have no embassy there, and I suppose we get information from other embassies there. But it's hard for me to sort of get a grip. I see these horrible pictures, and it seems widespread, it seems like it's growing. But then I wonder where is -- you know, usually, it's the military sort of joins with the protesters. There's sort of a natural progression. I'm not sure we're seeing that.

HOEKSTRA: Well, whether we're seeing the growing escalation...

VAN SUSTEREN: Or whether there is? Whether there is a growing escalation?

HOEKSTRA: Well, it's very hard to tell. I mean, the more and the longer that this lasts, the more the regime is clamping down. So the real question is, Are they getting under this control, or are they clamping down because it's growing? And we really don't know at this point.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, that poor woman who was murdered, her family was not allowed to have a memorial service for her and all the mosques were told not to do anything. I mean, there's a real clamping down. I mean, the existing regime is very effective at starting to shut things down, communication, this family mourning the loss of life. I mean, it looks grimmer.

HOEKSTRA: It looks grimmer. And in, you know, the Iranian tradition, the Muslim tradition, martyrs are remembered frequently in the year after they are killed. And these memorial services 30 years ago, when the shah was taken down, they became the opportunities for people to go back to the streets. And you may see the same type of thing here, that this is the spark that will build over the next 12 to 18 months.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you think the president isn't doing a speech? Because he's -- he's -- I mean, he's very gifted at it. He's given great speeches, whether it's in Cairo or Denver or wherever, I mean, or even Philadelphia. It's, like -- you know, so why is he just sort of, you know, standing up in a midday press conference and saying, I'm going to make a couple quick short remarks, you know, I'm outraged?

HOEKSTRA: Yes, I can't figure it out because...

VAN SUSTEREN: What's it -- but I assume -- makes me think maybe they have other information?

HOEKSTRA: No, I don't think they've got any other information. I'm on the Intelligence Committee. I'd have the same information that the president would have, and I don't think there's any information available that, you know, would tell you, Hey, they've clamped down. There's nowhere where this thing is going to go. I think he's being very, very cautious. I think he still believes that at the end of this process, you know, we're moving towards a nuclear Iran and -- and this is where I think he's missing the opportunity.

You know, we're moving towards a nuclear Iran. They will have nukes. You know, there's not a strategy in place by this administration or the world community to stop their march towards nukes. And you know, so we're going to have to soon start shifting our strategy to one of, How do we contain the regime and how do we make sure that they don't proliferate? And I'll tell you, that's why regime changes in Iran is so important at this time.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is he -- do you think he's trying to play it both ways as a strategy, not as a criticism (INAUDIBLE) strategy, thinking that he doesn't know who's going to win, whether it's Ahmadinejad or Mousavi, and he wants to at least be able to theoretically sit down with the winner and try to avert a nuclear Iran? Is that it? And whether that's an effective strategy or not, but do you think that's his strategy?

HOEKSTRA: That could be. But the fault with that strategy would be that as president of the United States, believing that you cannot influence the outcome. I think the people on the streets of Iran, they are watching the United States. And you know, what they're seeing is the French are speaking out, The Brits are speaking out and America is lagging. I think the question that they're answering (SIC) is, Why is America not leading on this issue?

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.

HOEKSTRA: Hey, great. Thank you.

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