This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from May 5, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (D): I'm just having a good time. I think this is so much fun campaigning across our country, and especially these last couple of weeks in North Carolina and Indiana.
People have been wonderful. The spring is here. Everything is blooming. I mean, how could you not have a good time? It's been wonderful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIT HUME, HOST: Her voice is fading but her spirits seem not to be. That was Hillary Clinton on FOX News this morning, telling Gretchen Carlson, who did the interview, what a wonderful time she seems to be having. And whether she is or not, she certainly seems to be having a better time than earlier phases of the campaign.
Some thought on all this now from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, Mort Kondracke, Executive Editor of Roll Call, and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.
Well, she does seem to be having a good time. Why?
FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Because she's campaigning—I mean, look, this is a new and improved Hillary Clinton, no question about that, but just she seems comfortable going where the votes are for her. They're not in college towns. They're not with the latte crowd. They're with the beer-drinking crowd.
She's gone down scale and seems quite comfortable in doing that.
HUME: How can this be? This is a Wellesley graduate, a former first lady, a United States Senator whose combined income with her husband over the past nine years is $109 million.
BARNES: You left out a word Brit — "politician!" They go where the votes are...
HUME: ...I understand that, but why would she be the one—
BARNES: Because this has become her constituency—Catholics, working class, women, and there's a lot of overlap in those groups. It's basically downscale in the Democratic Party.
And so, look, she's not going to go around acting like a hoity-toity Wellesley graduate in order to attract—you have to act like you want to have a beer.
HUME: It is one thing to seek to appeal to those voters, Mort, but it is quite another to be so obviously happy and comfortable and seeming in her element doing it.
MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: Well, if everybody is cheering you all the time, and there are a lot of them, and the results are good, as they have been in big states, and she has got an argument—
Look, she is throwing herself at this task with everything she has. She is coming from behind. She may catch up or she may not catch up. And why should she look morose about it? She may as well look as though she's having a good time, and she has every right—
HUME: It doesn't seem forced, though, does it?
KONDRACKE: It doesn't seem forced.
Somebody I know has a theory about this. You remember back when Clinton was president of the United States, people said that he's really Satan because he walks through life and people collapse around him and go to jail and die, and all this kind of stuff?
Well, this person says Hillary's a vampire. She's sucking the blood out of Barack Obama, and you can watch him wilt and she gets healthier and healthier every day.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I have a less exotic theory.
KRAUTHAMMER: I think that she is genuinely energized because she's figured out how to run against him. The frustration of running a year-and-a-half without understanding how to do this, I think, was killing her. Win or lose, she has a strategy.
She started out a year-and-a-half ago running as a centrist, thinking it would be a coronation and she would run by herself for the general election. Obama rises. She understands she's in trouble with her base. She runs left.
But if she runs left, as she did, there are no differences between her and Obama on Iraq, health care, and all that. It ended up on a contest of personality, and on that he wins hands down. He is attractive, he's elegant, and all that.
And then, all of a sudden, her opening arises, and he made the opening: Reverend Wright, William Ayers, that slip he made in San Francisco about God and guns, it made him the effete liberal.
Her opening was to understand she will run right as a cultural conservative—not on issues, not on ideology, but on culture. She's Annie Oakley out there. She's a working class Sally. She understands if she runs as that she has a strategy of winning.
That's why the gas tax is such an interesting issue. As an issue it's nothing, but it shows him a as the effete, academic liberal. She loved it when he claimed all the economists agreed with her(ph). She said you've got all those professors of economics; I've got the working class.
HUME: You mean the economists agree with him?
KRAUTHAMMER: He can have them, she's got the working class mom who's hurting and needs the $8 a week or so at the pump.
This is the perfect issue to reinforce the cultural issue.
BARNES: This is a lot like a basketball game where one team is sitting on a lead —that's Obama—and the other team is coming back, they're the underdog. And who's having the most fun out there? The team coming back. They're all fired up. They may not win. They may fall short, but it's a lot more fun being an underdog who is storming back than the leader who sitting on the lead.
HUME: Now, Obama seems sort of in a quandary here about what to do. He isn't doing anything really differently than what he has done all along. Is it — can it ultimately be said that he ended up being the guy with nothing to say because he wasn't really running on anything other than his own personality and his own remarkable charms and personal appeal?
KONDRACKE: No, he's got a whole panoply of issues—
HUME: But he doesn't talk about them that much.
KONDRACKE: That's it—he needs to be forceful and positive about something. She has come up with this gimmick, the tax gimmick, and he's playing defense, and he's trying to attack her position, and it isn't working.
If he really wanted to do it, instead of saying you are only going to get $30 over the summer, he would say what about all those jobs building roads and bridges that people aren't going to get because of your taking away the trust fund money. That might work.
BARNES: Why change? He's still winning. You know, I think we all agree that he has about a 90 percent chance of getting the nomination.
HUME: He is certainly still leading.
BARNES: Look, does anyone think he is not going to win the nomination? I think he undoubtedly will.
KRAUTHAMMER: A change like that wouldn't work. His campaign has been all about him, his personality, novelty. And we're learning about him, and that's why he's in trouble.
HUME: Next, is Barack Obama preparing to break a promise made to the Teamsters union? Who's right about that? Is he right, or is she right? We'll tell you; stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you will have someone in the White House you will know and trust and who you have history with. Then you're going to see a change in terms of how we evaluate the agreements.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (D): This union has really done a tremendous job in turning yourselves around, and that is my observation.
I would be very open to looking at that and saying, well, you know, what is it you're trying to accomplish here? And see what the answers were, because at some point turn the page and go on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: That, folks, are a couple of excerpts from what Barack Obama and then Hillary Clinton said to a Teamsters gathering. We have the audio only from March of a year ago about this consent decree which is meant that federal regulators, basically, are looking over the shoulders of the Teamsters Union 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
The Teamsters union would like that lifted. The Teamsters believe that they have at least the general intent of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both to do that.
Today, Hillary Clinton, who did not get the Teamsters union endorsement, her campaign was criticizing Barack Obama for giving something in return for the endorsement. Is there any difference between what the two of them did, Fred?
BARNES: Yes, I think there is. Look, you read The Wall Street Journal story that broke this, and the spokesman for Obama says indeed he thinks the consent decree should be lifted. You couldn't quite hear it in that—it was a little vague in that recording.
HUME: But he's referring to what Obama said, and we just heard what Obama said. Did he say it should be lifted or did he say he would be willing to look at it closely?
BARNES: It sounded like more than that, and certainly the Teamsters seemed to think it was a lot more than that.
But look, for Obama on this issue, he's playing with fire. Look, whenever you're dealing with the Teamsters, that is the old politics, because they want this consent decree lifted. It goes back to 1989.
And the problem is the oversight board doesn't want to go away. The Justice Department has shown no indication that it wants the oversight board to go away. And then this lawyer who James Hoffa, the head of the Teamsters, hired to root out mob ties in the Teamsters, he did go away, complaining that he wasn't fully supported by Hoffa.
So I think this is an issue that is not going to help Obama.
KONDRACKE: They did sound roughly similar. Obama is not promising that he either can or would snap his fingers and make the consent decree go away. It's got to go through the Justice Department. He said it would, and she's indicating too that she thinks it ought to go away, but she won't have the power, either.
The Teamsters does not seem to be the same union that it was back in papa's day when the pension fund was at the disposal of the mob. It is not that anymore. It has not been in trouble recently.
HUME: Well, I guess not with a federal regulator looking over their shoulder.
KONDRACKE: Well, OK, but is it mobbed up or isn't it mobbed up? There is no indication that it is mobbed up, and maybe it should be revisited. But the Justice Department would have to look at that under any circumstances.
KRAUTHAMMER: I'm not impressed at all by any difference between Hillary and Obama on promises here. And, in fact, John Edwards, who was the other serious candidate, he also said essentially the same to the Teamsters. So I don't buy the story that he got their endorsement because he was particularly sympathetic more than the others.
But I think that, tape of Obama that we heard is really damaging.
HUME: How so?
KRAUTHAMMER: As Fred said, if you listen again, he says if you have got somebody in the White House, you got a friend in the White House, you're going to get results. Fred indicated that is a definition of the old politics. It's exactly what Obama says he's running to abolish and eliminate.
Is it the old? He says I'm not running to play the game in Washington. I'm running to abolish that.
HUME: The quote again, to repeat, we may be able to put it on the screen again—he says "I think if you've got somebody in the White House who you know and you trust and have history with, then you will see a change in the terms of how you evaluate the consent decree."
KONDRACKE: He's not going to have anything to do with corporate lobbyists or corporate special interests, but if it's a union—they are also both in favor of the so-called "Employee Free Choice Act," which eliminates the secret ballot for unions.
They have their own vested interest that they're in favor of. So it's not going to be the end of the old politics. It's going to be different politics — liberal politics.
KRAUTHAMMER: In his own voice, he is undermining the exact rationale of his campaign, which he repeats every six minutes, and which you really have to be under 30 to actually buy and believe, which is why his support is so heavily among the youth.
If you have been around the track at least once, you know it's a fraud, and here you can hear it's a fraud.
HUME: That is it for the panel
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