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Special Report Roundtable - October 18

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD), U.S. HOUSE CANDIDATE: In each of these races, again, the last -- as we did in the last three weeks, we have candidates that are in very good shape, they just got to be -- we just got to keep track -- focused on the fundamentals to get across the finish line.

REP. THOMAS REYNOLDS (R-New York), U.S. HOUSE CANDIDATE: $39.2 million in the bank at month's end. This means that despite the uphill environment and two heavily contested special elections, the committee has $13.5 million more in the bank than going into October of 2004.


HUME: Well, there you have, in a nutshell, the difference between the two parties. We heard Chris Van Hollen there saying the Democrats got candidates, we're all in good shape, the polls all show that and Tom Reynolds for the Republicans says, look, we got plenty of money, we've saved it and we're going to spend it and we got a tough environment, but we're OK.

Some thoughts on this now from Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard; Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call; and Nina Easton, Washington bureau chief of Fortune magazine -- all are FOX NEWS contributors an all are aware of the conventional wisdom in Washington which, today, is that the House is lost and possibly, or maybe even likely, the Senate as far as the Republicans are concerned -- Fred.

FRED BARNES, WEEKLY STANDARD: I don't know, I think it's worse than that, the conventional wisdom is worse than that. There's a blue wave building of Democrats and the story in the Washington Post, this morning, about how Republicans can lose more than 40 seats in the House, and I mean, it's a bandwagon effect of Democrats and a lot of the mainstream media, not all of it.

Now, I think (INAUDIBLE) -- look, I only have one rule in politics and Mort's heard it 1,000 times -- and that is that the future in politics is never a straight line projection of the present. Not even over three weeks is it. And so, I think you've already seen a tiny bit, I mean, I don't want to overemphasize this, but a tiny bit of a turn in the -- for Republicans and maybe it's the effect of the Mark Foley scandal.

HUME: Is this to turn in their favor or merely a pause in the hemorrhage?

BARNES: Well, hard to tell at the moment. But you see some House races that looks like Republicans are going to win, even a couple of open seats, the Henry Hyde open seat where he's retiring in Illinois, the seat in northern Wisconsin, Green Bay, where Mark Green has left to run for governor.

You see those, and then you see this poll in Maryland now that -- by Survey USA, that shows that Michael Steele, the African-American Republican candidate is tied with the Democratic nominee, Congressman Ben Cardin. Now, that poll -- one poll doesn't really mean that much, but it is a straw in the wind and shows something.

And look, President Bush can play a tremendous role in these last couple weeks of the campaign and it's this role, it's not that he's going to convince the nation that being in Iraq was the right thing to do, but he can spur the Republican turn-out and that's the one job he has, I think, that's left to him and he can affect that. One way the Democrats have a landslide is if Republicans don't turn out, particularly conservatives.

MORT KONDRACKE, ROLL CALL": Well, the Republicans are cheering themselves up today too with the news -- with an analysis by David Winston, a Republican pollster, that all these polls that you see, Pew poll, Gallup poll, Washington Post, They're all skewed because they don't -- they overcount Democrats and undercount Republicans.

HUME: The over -- in other words they have too many Democrats in their sample?

KONDRACKE: Right, right, exactly.

HUME: And not enough Republicans.

KONDRACKE: Exactly. But, the National Public Radio poll we used last night to analyze these 49 individual district races, the count on Democrats and Republicans was dead even, which Winston says is OK, and the result -- I did some math on them -- in the 38 Republican districts in 2004, those Republican candidates got 58.7 percent vote on average and now they're down to 44 percent, so I think...

HUME: Yeah, they're down four points in the...

KONDRACKE: They're down to the Democrats four points, but below their own performance they're down 14 or 15 points which, you know, reinforces the conventional wisdom.

NINA EASTON, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: The conventional wisdom, we have to admit, could be right, I mean, you know, there -- the -- in the House, I mean, the conventional wisdom is not only that it could very well flip, but now you have Republican strategists worried about oh my god, now we've got to keep this flip narrow, got to keep this majority narrow, otherwise it's going to be a 10-year phenomenon of the Democrats controlling the House.

One of the more interesting chambers -- or the more interesting chamber, at this point, I think, is the Senate, where you've the Democrats have to gain six seats to take over the Senate. And incumbents who are under 46, 47 percent at this point, are probably in trouble and if that's the case, then you can say Republicans could lose five seats. Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Montana, and Missouri are possible losses, but they can also pick up seats. They might pick up New Jersey where Menendez is having some serious.

HUME: Democrat Menendez

EASTON: Democrat Menendez having some serious ethics issuesed. And again, this poll in Maryland with Steele, that's a possible pick-up, as well. So, the Senate, I think, is seriously in play.

BARNES: Oh yeah, no, there's no question about that. I would say something about the poll that Mort mention, the NPR poll, had Bush -- had Republicans doing much worse among men than among women.

Well, look, I mean that overturns -- look, I think the poll is just wrong on that and rather importantly wrong on that. It would have held -- have overturned a phenomenon in politics of the last two decades, at any rate, so I think that's a flawed poll, as well.

HUME: Well, what about this question? This is, obviously -- we all went into election night in 2004, the late polls and the exit polls appeared to show John Kerry would eek out a narrow victory and on Election Day, the early exit polls indicated that he had done just that. And when the votes were finally counted Republican votes turned out in places where no one had previously believed that there were that many Republican votes available, which suggested that the -- sort of the national political sample that had been in use was flawed.

Is that still possibly the case here or is it likely that the pollsters and everybody else knows their business better having learned their lessons two years ago?

KONDRACKE: I think it could be that the models were wrong because the. Republicans clearly churned out a lot of voters, turned up a lot of voters, got them to the polls, made these -- made all these contacts and they may be underestimating the turn-out strength of the Republicans this time. But, look, at some point history has to catch up with George Bush. I mean, this is a 60-year election, the mood of the country stinks for Republicans...

HUME: Well, nobody here's suggesting that the Republicans are going to gain seats.


HUME: We're just talking about how bad the loss is going to be. The Republicans are going to lose throughout in this election.

KONDRACKE: Fifteen seats is not that big a loss and neither is six Senate seats in a wave election and this looks like a wave election, based on, you know.

HUME: Does it?

KONDRACKE: .public dissatisfaction with the Iraq war and other...

BARNES: It does, I mean, I don't -- at this point, I don't think so, knowing what Republicans can do in the last couple of weeks, what the president, I think, will do.

But it doesn't look one anyway.

EASTON: You know, a lot has been made about the money differential. The Republicans have more money to spend at the end of the race, but you also have to take into account, since campaign finance reform, all of the liberal 526 groups and PACS and we've got. Emily's list, here, with $27 million, with $20 million...

HUME: How much of that is still available to be spent?

EASTON: And that's going to -- I don't know how much is actually - - this is -- these are recent numbers, thought, but this kind of money is going to go -- a lot of it's going to go into the field and help make up that gap.

HUME: When we come back the panel, that football brawl in Florida and the punishments that followed hang in there, a prominent political figure -- a former political figure is involved in that whole issue. Stay tuned.



DONNA SHALALA, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI PRESIDENT: We have set a new standard. That standard being that we will eliminate from our teams students that get into fights. I believe that the young men that we have recruited for our football team are young men of great character, but they did a very bad thing.


HUME: Young men of great character, indeed. Donna Shalala who is known, of course, in Washington as the secretary of HHS under President Clinton. We're back with our panel to discuss this now. This is something that -- it's not overtly political obviously, but everybody in America has been talking about this. Some discipline was meted (ph) out. What about the discipline, was it enough, and what about Donna Shalala said?

KONDRACKE: Well look, it was the Florida International team, the people in white who started this brawl, but the -- but you had one University of Miami guy who came along with his he will helmet, used it as a weapon, started banging people over the head with it and there was stomping all those kind other kinds of stuff going on.

Now, Donna Shalala's first reaction was to suspend that guy who was.

HUME: Flinging his helmet.

KONDRACKE: Flinging his helmet around, for one game, and that game happens to be against Duke, which is -- which hasn't won a game yet this season. Finally she extended the suspension. The zero tolerance should have instituted a long time ago at the University of Miami. They've been acting up before, they got in fights after the Peach Bowl last year and you know, this is now way late and too little.

EASTON: This is a case of colligate sports meets political correctness in the for of Donna Shalala, who also said, "We've known we can't make mistakes. We never get any breaks." She's, of course, the -- in her academic career, has a very politically correct history where she got rid of the -- or she instituted speech code at the University of Washington. She got rid of the ROTC Because she opposed the military's policy on gays.

And she's a very politically correct person and so what you got here was worrying about the feelings of the players rather than what's best for our kids setting standards. And the sad thing was there were 700 kids in the stands who had been brought there as part of a police department anti-gang system.


So, that -- and now we've this thing racing around YouTube so the other kids in America can, you know, follow suit and watch it.

BARNES: You know, I like Dona Shalala and she knows a lot about college football. Because I've had rather extended conversations with her and a couple of times...

HUME: (INAUDIBLE) I like her team.

BARNES: And but she's wrong about this.

HUME: The -- I mean, she.


HUME: what about the Florida international students? What kind of penalty -- is their penalty adequate either.

BARNES: No, they're a little tougher. Going to be players have been suspended for longer and two were kicked off the team.

Brit, it boils down to this, I've thought this for a long time, and I do follow college football, in fact, I go to a game almost every weekend, but certain -- I mean, it's the problem of the coaches. The coaches know who they're recruiting and coaches know if they -- if they want to recruit thugs who are great football players, they can do that and it may help their team, they may have a better team as a result, but they are harder to control and they're going to pay a price for.

And there's an old saying about one team, you know, with the quarterback and the best linebacker and the top running back are in a car together, who's driving ? The answer -- the sheriff.


KONDRACKE: Look, I too look Donna Shalala, but the fact is that it's a university president that determines -- she knows, and especially Donna Shalala, knows who is being recruited for her team and whether the coach is in control or not. She's a sports nut. And she, you know, she built up a great program at the University of Wisconsin. She knows what's going on and she should have done better by this.

HUME: So, is anything likely to be done by the, you know, the NCAA or anybody like that?

BARNES: It's happened before. It's not knew.

HUME: I know. I know.

BARNES: So the answer is no.

HUME: You think not -- nothing?


KONDRACKE: Well, you would think at some point there would be discipline exercised and people would say enough already, but you know, I've yet to see it. Well, if anybody misbehaves at the University of Miami we'll see whether they actually kicked off the team or not.

EASTON: And teams that have done this before have had to miss bowl games, so this is -- there are harsher penalties to be had.

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