President Obama gives end of year press conference

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," December 18, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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ERIC BOLLING, FOX NEWS HOST: Hi, I'm Eric Bolling, in for Bill O'Reilly. Thanks for watching this special edition of The Factor: Election 2016.

As the year comes to a close a dramatic change in tone from President Obama. Remember how he famously said, the ISIS terrorists were, quote, "contained", just a day before the Paris terror attack. But at his year- end press conference, Obama upped his rhetoric against the terror group.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to defeat ISIS. We're going to do so by systematically squeezing them, cutting off their supply lines, cutting off their financing, taking out their leadership, taking out their forces, taking out their infrastructure.


BOLLING: President Obama sounded strikingly similar to a person who wants his job.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As it is not enough to contain ISIS, we must defeat ISIS, break its momentum, and then its back. And not just ISIS but the broader radical jihadist movement that also includes al Qaeda, an offshoot like al Shabaab in Somalia.


BOLLING: It's no surprise Hillary got out in front of Obama on the ISIS issue, as the President's polling on terrorism continues to sag. A new Fox News poll shows just 33 percent of voters approve of President Obama's handling of ISIS, with 58 percent disapproving.

Joining us now with reaction in Los Angeles, Nomiki Konst, founder and executive director of The Accountability Project; and in Tampa, Florida, Adam Goodman, a GOP communications strategist. So Adam, does President Obama know how to fight the war on terror?

ADAM GOODMAN, GOP COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST: He is completely out of his element. I mean the press conference we just saw earlier today, I think he had more passion for "Star Wars" than the war against ISIS. He continues to be a president that has trouble reassuring the American public with anything but timidity. He seems to -- instead of giving us a paternal hug from the Oval Office, that we're going to be ok -- he gives stern lectures about strategy, which we still don't understand.

And as the world, Eric, looks for a leader who's going to look us square in the eye and do something about it, we seem to have a leader who's looking the other way.

So this press conference was more of the same. He's uncomfortable in this role as commander-in-chief. I think it showed again in the press conference.

BOLLING: Now Nomiki, did you hear anything new from the President today?

NOMIKI KONST, THE ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT: Absolutely. And I disagree with Adam wholeheartedly. I don't even think Adam watched the press conference until the end when there was that "Star Wars" reference.

You know, what the President did today was he explained what he's accomplished, what the administration had done with the rest of the world with this, with the coalition of Arab states, the world coalition in attacking ISIS at its core in Iraq and in Syria. In fact, so much so, that they've lost 40 percent of their territory.

And to continue to talk about the continuing plan of combating ISIS which is everything from attacking their funding sources, putting pressure on Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to put pressure on their funding sources because these are their citizens, to the (inaudible) to, you know -- and furthermore, the problem is that the Republicans out there who are campaigning are so busy fear-mongering, that they expect the President to - -

BOLLING: Hold on. Hold on -- Nomiki. Here's the issue, though. A lot of voters, and we have a Fox News poll that say -- that feel President Obama is underwater on how he's handling ISIS. A lot of voters were watching that, waiting for something new, and frankly, we do a lot of this here, Adam, I didn't hear anything new.

I hear more of the same. The strategy is working, so let's continue to do it. Meanwhile people are dying in San Bernardino and there are more terror plots that James Comey is telling us about.

GOODMAN: Well Nomiki clearly is in the minority of the few people who seem to both understand and buy into his strategy. The number one issue in America today is national security, personal security and I think we have, frankly, not just ISIS, but the President's tepid response to thank for that.

Let me offer this. For years, I've had the opportunity to work with and around Rudy Giuliani who taught me a lot about crisis response. And when you're in the middle of a crisis, here's what you do if you're a public leader. You report out clearly, substantively, as often as possible and you reassure people that you're on top of this, whatever the "this" is.

We've seen that with a lot of the governors who are in the presidential race -- Jeb Bush, Chris Christie -- as they face both natural and man-made disasters. We have not -- Eric, to this moment gotten that feeling from the President as he talked today at the press conference about ISIS and the war on terror. You could tell it was very difficult for him to muster up the kind of visceral --

BOLLING: He didn't have -- you're right. Nomiki, he didn't have a lot of emotion and he promised to have more emotion.


BOLLING: In fact, he admitted that he didn't tap into the anxiety of the American people frankly, because I think he said he didn't watch enough cable news.

KONST: Well, ok, that was an off-the-record conversation with "The New York Times" but that's not his job. His job is not to be a cheerleader or fear monger. His job is to keep calm and carry on and report to the reporters in the room on what his administration is doing and what they've done so far.

And you know what -- I want to see a leader who I trust. And who can keep calm when the entire world is spinning out of control. When people are throwing out things like banning all Muslims --

BOLLING: You know what's egregious to me, Nomiki, today when the question asked about San Bernardino, within maybe less than 20 seconds or so, he brought in a gun control debate. He said, well, you know, let's really worry about those mass shootings as well. In other words, people are worried about terror, and he wants to bring up gun control.

KONST: Well, the mass shootings are also terror. You know, you can't separate the two. They're both done by lone wolves that can both be --

BOLLING: San Bernardino was done by Muslim extremists. San Bernardino, let's be honest, was done by Muslim extremists. Adam, am I wrong?

GOODMAN: You're totally right. Can I address Nomiki on this one point? Nomiki, I urge you to go hit the history books and look back to the Second World War when we had two leaders over in England by the name of Churchill and Chamberlain. I think we need a lot more Churchill --

KONST: Yes, keep calm and carry on.

GOODMAN: -- and a lot less -- hold on a second -- a lot less Chamberlain today. The American people, the reason they are very upset, anxious, angry and impatient for leadership, you can see it in the national security numbers, is whatever the President you might suggest is trying to do, he is failing to convince the American people to rally around the flag and to feel confident as he's moved into and beyond the holidays.

BOLLING: Let's talk about Gitmo for a second. He talked about Gitmo. He's talked about -- there are 107 Gitmo detainees still there. He also seemed to indicate that he wants to liquidate Gitmo. It's kind of left in his presidency as one of his campaign promises. It looks like he wants to do it.

I don't know, it feels like he wants to hand Gitmo back over to the Cubans when he goes to visit them at the end of his presidency.

KONST: Well, as you said, by the end of his presidency and as early as the start of 2016, Gitmo will be down to about 100 high terror suspects. Those are the ones that are going to have to go through military tribunal. Don't forget, a lot of people that were put in Gitmo had no relationship with terrorists at all. In fact, they may have had similar names, not even the same names. They were pulled off the streets. That was a terrible thing that happened.

BOLLING: Nomiki, Nomiki, Nomiki --


BOLLING: 18 percent of the Gitmo detainees that we turned back -- that let out go back to the battlefield. Adam, 18 returned to the fight. They want to kill Americans.

GOODMAN: There were a couple actually in Belgium that did just that. I think Gitmo represents the front line in the war on terror. I know that the President from the word go, from the very first day in office, has been trying to close it. I think that it's a symbol of America fighting back. I think we need to keep it in place.

BOLLING: Going to have to leave it right there. Nomiki and Adam --

KONST: Adam, you're confusing al Qaeda with ISIS --

BOLLING: Nomiki -- I've got to go. Love you guys -- got to go.

KONST: Thanks.

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