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Joe Biden, Carl Levin, Newt Gingrich, Roundtable

Fox News Sunday

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace. Hillary Clinton announces she's running for president -- next, on "Fox News Sunday."

Tough words from a bipartisan Senate resolution opposing President Bush's new Iraq policy. We'll talk about the war and what Congress will do about it with the Senate's top man on national security, Joe Biden, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Carl Levin, head of the Armed Services Committee.

House Democrats tout 100 hours of success since taking power, but will any of the legislation ever become law? We'll ask the architect of the '94 Republican revolution, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.



SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.: After six years of George Bush, it is time to renew the promise of America.


WALLACE: ... Hillary Clinton says she's in to win. We'll survey the dramatic new landscape for the presidential race with our Sunday regulars: Brit Hume, Mara Liasson, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams.

And our power player of the week: the life and laughs of Art Buchwald.

All right now on "Fox News Sunday."

And good morning again from Fox News in Washington. Here's a quick check of the latest headlines.

Senator Hillary Clinton announced plans Saturday to run for president. She is the only former first lady ever to seek her own term in the White House. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, Kansas Senator Sam Brownback also announced his candidacy.

In Iraq, at least 19 U.S. service members were killed in combat operations Saturday, 12 of them in a helicopter crash. It's the highest one-day death total in two years.

And on the political front, followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are ending their boycott of parliament.

Well, joining us now are the Senate's two leaders on national security: from Delaware, Joe Biden, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee; and from Michigan, Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

Gentlemen, before we get to Iraq, let's start with the news that Hillary Clinton is officially now running for president. Senator Biden, you're also a candidate. With her vast fundraising and campaign organization, with her grassroots support, does she blow away the rest of the Democratic field?

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: Oh, I think she's incredibly formidable and has got to be the frontrunner and the odds-on pick right now. But this is a marathon; there's a long way to go.

WALLACE: Is the nomination hers to lose? In effect, do you basically have to just hang in there and hope that she makes a mistake?

BIDEN: No, I don't think so.

WALLACE: Do you want to elaborate on that, sir?

BIDEN: Not really. I think, look, listen, we're a lifetime away. Hillary Clinton is going to have to make her best case. And there's a lot of us out there that are known but in a sense not known, and we're going to make our best case. And I don't think Hillary's best case versus mine or Barack's or anybody else's necessarily trumps us.

WALLACE: Senator Levin, let me ask you something that I hear from a lot of Democrats, that Senator Clinton can win the nomination, but that she has too much baggage to be elected president.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: Oh, I don't think that's true. I think that we have a lot of candidates there that are able to not only win the nomination but also win the election.

I think there's a Democratic tide that is running in this country for good reasons. I think six years of the Bush administration have given people a lot of reasons to look for Democratic alternatives.

And it's now up to us to really show what those alternatives are in the next two years in Congress, now controlled by Democrats. And I'm very confident that the strongest candidate will emerge, but we don't know who that Democrat is yet.

WALLACE: All right, let's turn to Iraq.

Senator Levin, there is now, at this point, a scramble in the Senate to pass some resolution opposing the president's new troop increase in Iraq. The resolution that you and Senator Biden have co- authored says that it is not in the national interest to escalate the U.S. military presence in Iraq.

But the fact is that, in recent days, there has been a bit of good news from Iraq. We've seen people loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr arrested. The Iraqis are reportedly sending more troops into Baghdad. And we now have this draft constitutional amendment that would provide for a compromise, the federal government doling out oil revenues.

Senator Levin, aren't you rushing to write off a policy that, in fact, at least has a chance of succeeding? LEVIN: Well, this policy has been a failure right from the beginning. It was poorly thought out. It was poorly implemented. And deepening military involvement now is not the answer.

Perhaps these recent events may prove that it's not a deepening in military involvement that is need. It is a political solution which is needed in Iraq. There is no way to end this violence without it.

These recent events, it seems to me, prove that you can make some political progress perhaps without deepening military involvement by the United States.

But I'll tell you, Chris, even the prime minister of Iraq has acknowledged that it is the failure of the political leaders in Iraq that are the cause of this violence, and without their coming together, there is no end to it.

So what we've got to do is keep the pressure on the Iraqis to reach a political settlement and not deepen our military involvement, which adds targets but doesn't add much in the way of pressure.

As a matter of fact, it takes the Iraqis off the hook in terms of putting pressure on them, because it tells them, somehow or other, that our adding forces is a way to solve their political problems when it really isn't. Only they can solve it.

WALLACE: Last week, Vice President Cheney was here on "Fox News Sunday," and he said a resolution like the one that the two of you are introducing sends exactly the wrong message. Let's watch.


VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: We simply go back and revalidate the strategy that Osama bin Laden has been following from day one: that if you kill enough Americans, you can force them to quit, that we don't have the stomach for the fight.


WALLACE: Senator Biden, I know that this is not your intent, but, in fact, wouldn't your resolution send a message that would embolden our enemy and discourage our troops in the field?

BIDEN: Absolutely not. And not only does Carl Levin and Joe Biden and Senator Hagel and Senator Snow, but the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Iraqi Study Group, every single person out there that is of any consequence knows the vice president doesn't know what he's talking about.

I can't be more blunt than that. He has yet to be right one single time on Iraq. Name me one single time he's been correct.

It's about time we stopped listening to that ideological rhetoric and that "bin Laden" and the rest. Bin Laden isn't the issue here. Bin Laden will become the issue. The issue is there's a civil war, Chris. I said way back in November last year, speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations, I said, "Does anyone support using American troops to fight a civil war? I don't, and I don't think the American people do. But if we fail to force a political consensus, that's exactly what we will have."

That's what we have. That's what the president has to deal with. And he's doing it the exact wrong way. And he's not listening to his military. He's not listening to his old secretaries of state. He's not listening to his old friends. He's not listening to anybody but Cheney, and Cheney is dead-wrong.

WALLACE: All right. Senator Levin, we talk about the criticism from the right. You're also getting hit from the left, from people who say, "Look, if you're against this troop increase, then you shouldn't just do a sense-of-the-Senate resolution; you should stop it."

Let's take a look at Senator Chris Dodd, who's also running for president and wants to put a cap on U.S. troops. Here it is.


SEN. CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, D-CONN.: This is not a time for senators, in my view, to simply declare our individual opposition to this plan. It is time that we accept our obligations and offer meaningful action to stop this proposal.


WALLACE: Senator Levin, if you really believe that this is the wrong policy, to send 20,000 more American service men and women into Iraq, why not take hard action to stop it?

LEVIN: It will be a very powerful message if a bipartisan majority of the Congress say that they disagree with the increased military involvement in Iraq. It's so powerful that the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has said that they're going to filibuster against this bipartisan resolution -- two Democrats, two Republicans.

So the power of this resolution is a first step to urge the president not to deepen our military involvement, not to escalate this matter. That is a first step. If the president does not take heed to that step, at that point, you then consider another step.

But the worst thing we can do is to vote on something which is critical of the current policy and lose it, because if we lose that vote, the president will use the defeat of a resolution as support for his policy.

The public doesn't support his policy. A majority of the Congress doesn't support his policy. And we've got to keep a majority of the Congress -- or put a majority of the Congress in a position where they can vote against the president's policy, because that is the way in which we will begin to turn the ship around that is leading us in the wrong direction in Iraq. WALLACE: Senator Biden, let me ask you a couple of quick questions, sort of housekeeping. There are about a half-dozen resolutions currently being offered to oppose the president's plan.

As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, do you plan to work out some compromise so you can avoid sending a muddled message to the president?

BIDEN: No, I don't think there's any muddled message here. There's an overwhelming bipartisan opposition to escalating the worth, overwhelming consensus that we should de-escalate the war -- bipartisan.

The fact of the matter is, the quickest way to effect the change -- and it's going to take five months for this escalation to fully be put in place. We have time in that -- the quickest thing we can do is make it clear to the president he doesn't have any support.

We will bring up other resolutions...

WALLACE: But then how do you decide, sir -- if I may, how do you decide which of these resolutions is going to get voted on and which isn't? Are they all going to get to the Senate floor?

BIDEN: Oh, I think they'll all get a chance to get voted on -- basically all of them. And I think we'll have some discussion.

For example, I'm not for capping for a simple reason: It maintains the status quo. I don't want a cap; I want to reduce. Capping goes out there and says the status quo is just fine, number one.

Number two, if we're really going to do something about this, which if, in fact, we can't dissuade the president by showing him he has no support, then I think we have to change the authorization for the use of force and make it directly deal with this straight up. Capping and limiting funds are constitutionally able to be done, but they will not get the job done.

And I think we should be talking -- I've drafted; I'm not going to introduce it right now -- an authorization for the use of force that renders the last one null and void.

We're in a civil war now. Saddam's gone. There are no weapons of mass destruction. And we should be instructing the president of what the limitations on his use of force in the region are if he does not -- if he does not -- begin to move in the area of consensus, "consensus" meaning, "Mr. President, no more troops, begin to reduce troops in order to get a political settlement. A political settlement has to deal with oil and has to deal with local control. Mr. President, get about it."

WALLACE: Let's turn to a couple of other trouble spots, and we have about three minutes left here.

Senator Levin, your colleague, Jay Rockefeller, chairman of Senate Intelligence, says that he's worried that the president is building a case against Iran very similar to the case that he built before invading Iraq.

One, do you think that this president intends to use force against Iran? And does he have the legal authority to do so?

LEVIN: Well, I think that he wants to keep the military option on the table.

Some of his rhetoric goes beyond that, which is too bad. Some of the recent rhetoric goes beyond simply keeping the military option on the table, and it suggests that he has the authority and is going to move into Iran relative to trying to stop Iranian support for Iraq. That was clarified later on by his chairman of the Joint Chiefs and by his secretary of defense, saying, "No, no, he did not mean that he's going to move into Iran in order to stop things from coming into Iraq to support the insurgents," that that's not necessary.

But I think some of his rhetoric has been very loose and plays into the hands of the fanatics in Iran. We ought to tone down the rhetoric, keep our strength, keep an option on the table, speak a little more softly, carry the big stick but tone down the rhetoric which plays right into the hands of the fanatics in Iran.

WALLACE: And, finally, Senator Biden, China, which showed this week that it has the capacity to launch missiles and take out satellites in space -- how provocative an action? And what do we need to do about it?

BIDEN: I think it is provocative. I think we have many options to deal with it.

We accomplished that goal 25 years ago. It was a kinetic kill, as they call it. It did not use lasers. There are ways to blunt that.

But one of the things we have to talk about is whether or not the, sort of, ideological base notion about how we deal with space and weapons in space and the use of weapons from space is something that is a path we should continue to follow.

This is basically -- this administration's policy has been the Rumsfeld proposal prior to him coming in as secretary, and it radically changed our view of how we're going to use space.

I think it's worth us beginning to consider it, but I don't think we should be overly worried about this at this point. We have ways to deal with that ability that they've demonstrated they possess that will put us in a position where we still have clear eyes in space.

But the other side of that is, though, this is not the direction we want to go, in escalating competition in space. And we should be talking about it.

WALLACE: Senator Biden, Senator Levin, we're going to have to leave it there. We want to thank you both so much for coming in this morning and talking to us. BIDEN: Thank you very much.

LEVIN: Thanks, Chris.

WALLACE: Up next, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on the Democrats now in control of Congress. Back in a moment.


WALLACE: And joining us now, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Speaker, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."


WALLACE: You said the other day that the president went about halfway to where he needs to go in Iraq, and you also said that his new plan has only a one-in-five chance of succeeding.

If that's true, if you really believe that he has only taken a halfway measure and that the chances for success are relatively slim, one in five, aren't Senators Biden and Levin correct in trying to block sending these troops in?

GINGRICH: Well, I think the question that they have to ask is, how important is victory in Iraq when you look at Iran, you look at Syria, you look at the threat to Israel, you look at the way in which the terrorists will respond to an American defeat?

And if, in fact, the president's plan is inadequate, they have one answer, which is to accept defeat and find a way to avoid the problem. I would argue that, in fact, we need to dig in and think through in a serious way what do we have to do.

And I think it would surprise most Americans to know that about 80 percent of what we have to do isn't about troops. It's about the absolute failure of the American bureaucracies to function.

We're about 10 percent of the way into effective intelligence reform. We aren't even 10 percent of the way into reforming the State Department. We have nonfunctional relations with the Justice Department, the Treasury Department, the Agriculture Department, the Commerce Department...

WALLACE: But is that...

GINGRICH: It's amazing.

WALLACE: ... why we're losing the war in Iraq right now?

GINGRICH: It's a significant part of it. When you have 50, 60 and 70 percent unemployment among young males and all of the economic instruments in the United States are incompetent -- I mean, people talk about the Iraqi government being incompetent. I would argue that the non-combat components of the American system are fully as broken in their ability to deliver every day.

And what General Petraeus is going to discover when he gets there is that his ability to get decisions made, to get decisions implemented, to be directly effective, is going to be stunningly limited for a country which has now been fighting this war for four years.

WALLACE: Well, let me pick up on that, because one of the other things you said is that the real problem is the intensity of the decision- making in Washington and that this president has to be and has not so far been commander in chief every day.

Explain what you mean.

GINGRICH: I think the president ought to have a deputy chief of staff reporting directly to him, and the second briefing he gets every morning after the intelligence brief should be a briefing on what Admiral Fallon is going to need, what General Petraeus is going to need, and the president should be issuing orders.

What happens today is this interagency process, which all the bureaucracies love. And they get in a room together, and the secretary of state is comfortable and the second of defense is comfortable and the director of national intelligence is comfortable. And they all get together and they chat, and nothing happens.

I mean, I've been studying this now inside the system, year after year, and it is startling how bad it is.

And it's not new information. I first wrote on this in 1984. The system has been consistently broken.

The first report I got from General Thurmond after Panama in 1990 was the interagency system is broken. The first report I got from General Hartzog after Haiti in 1994 was the interagency process is broken.

Well, now what it means is, if you say to a local sheik somewhere, "I really want to help you and work with you," he's going to check it out and say, "Well, can this guy deliver or not? Is anything going to happen or not?"

And it is pathetic how bad our large non-combat bureaucracies are. I include parts of the Defense Department in that.

WALLACE: OK, but this brings me back to my point. If, 46 months into this war, four years into this war, it's pathetic, it's broken, the chances for success are only one in five, and you'd have no reason to believe the president is going to change this in the course of the next year -- I mean, he didn't announce any of the changes you're talking about -- don't the Democrats have a point when they say you shouldn't send 20,000 more troops in? GINGRICH: Look, absolutely they have a point. And if the Democrats were prepared to explain the cost of defeat in Iraq, what will happen to the Iranians dominating the Persian Gulf, what the threat to Israel will be if the United States looks dramatically weaker and the Iranians decide they can use nuclear weapons -- if the Democrats are prepared to argue the consequences of defeat.

I'm arguing we had better restructure the American system so it works, because we're in a long-term war. I mean, we're in a war where northwest Pakistan is gradually getting worse and worse. We're in a war where the Afghan government is under pressure. We're in a war where we had somebody picked up in Illinois, an American citizen who wanted to buy hand grenades to go have his own personal jihad in a Christmas mall.

I mean, people need to understand Iraq is a campaign. It's like Guadalcanal or Sicily in the Second World War. It's a piece of a bigger story.

WALLACE: Do you tell the president or somebody high up in the White House this?

GINGRICH: I tell people as high as I get a chance to.


GINGRICH: They take notes.

I mean, look, these are sincere people. It's very hard to believe when you're in these large bureaucracies and everything works all day -- the coffee is delivered, the staff is nice, the PowerPoint briefing looks good -- it's hard to believe how broken it is. And then when you interview majors, lieutenant colonels, colonels, generals, and you say, "What didn't work?", it is startling how consistent the answers are.

WALLACE: All right. Let's turn to the domestic side. You know something about winning control of the House, and you know something about taking over as speaker.

How do you think Nancy Pelosi has done in her so-called first 100 hours?

GINGRICH: Listen, I wish I'd gotten the press she got. I mean, I think she has had a very good run.

First of all, every Republican should respect what Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emmanuel have done. I mean, they put together a campaign team. They recruited people who are fairly centrist. They learned a big lesson out of being too far to the left. Now, whether or not they can govern this way we'll see. But they certainly deserve a lot of respect for how they put together the '06 campaign.

Second, I thought the picture of her with all of her grandchildren was just charming. I mean, why would you not think this is a nice person surrounded by her loving family? And I would say that they've had a reasonably good start. Now, they've been typically Democrat in that they had to have a tax increase as part of the first 100 hours. They have a very strange idea next week about empowering American Samoa and Guam and the Virgin Islands to equal Alaska, Wyoming and Montana in voting in the committee of the whole, which I think just will backfire a little bit on them.

And there's talk that she's going to take power away from John Dingell, who's chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and create a brand-new committee chaired by Ed Markey so they can have a liberal-enough committee.

Those kind of things I think are long-term signs of a potential weakness, but I give her very good credit for the opening round.

WALLACE: I was going to say, in these first six proposals, are you impressed by her discipline to at least appear to be governing from the center?

GINGRICH: I think it's smart. I mean, again...

WALLACE: And do you believe that she's going to be able to keep that up, keep that discipline?

GINGRICH: Well, we'll find out if she can keep it up.

But I would have to say that the Republicans are going to be going to their retreat this week to think about the future. They had better be planning -- it's a little bit like looking at the Super Bowl. They had better be planning to be up against a first-class opponent who is going to be doing everything she can to keep power. And if they're going to win it back, they're going to win it back; she's not going to hand it to them.

WALLACE: All right, let's talk some politics. With Senator Clinton now officially in the race, how do you assess the Democratic field?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I think you have to give Barack Obama a tremendous amount of credit. And I think he forced Senator Clinton's hand by weeks. I mean, he has gained ground so rapidly that I think she sort of thought she had to remind her friends she was around.

Now, she's still -- I don't care what anyone else says -- she and her husband are the most formidable pair of politicians in America. He is the smartest politician in America. She is a hard-working, disciplined person. She has won the Senate race in New York twice by very large margins.

She is ahead in every poll. She can raise far more resources than any other Democrat, probably raise more resources than all the other Democrats combined. And you'd have to say, given those assets, that she has a six- out-of-10 chance or better of being the Democratic nominee. WALLACE: Let's talk a little bit about Newt Gingrich. You continue to say that you won't decide whether you're going to run for president until this coming September.

Aren't you, in effect, admitting that your only chance is for all of the frontrunners in the field -- McCain and Romney and Giuliani -- to stumble and that then you can emerge?

GINGRICH: Well, I mean, I'm admitting it in a totally different way, which is to say if one of those three seals it off -- and they're all good people, and if one of them ends up being clearly the nominee, then there's no reason for me to run anyway, because they would've been clearly the nominee.

WALLACE: Well, they wouldn't necessarily have sealed it off, but if you were running right now, they might not.

GINGRICH: No, but I am very happy. We've launched a program called American Solutions. We're launching a movement that looks at all 511,000 elected officers in the country, from 17,000 school boards, 3,300 counties, 14,000 state legislators.

I think we need a huge amount of change in this country. And if, at Labor Day, the best way I can help the movement keep growing is to run for president, I'll seriously consider it.

But if, at the same time, we can keep these ideas moving forward very aggressively without running for president, then I want to keep the ideas moving forward.

I don't think the problem in American politics today is either consultants, money or ambition. I think the problem in American politics and government today is we don't have solutions equal to the size of our problems.

WALLACE: But you sound as if you think about running for president as a last resort, not as a first resort.

GINGRICH: Exactly. I mean, nobody's ever said it quite that way, but you're right.

I believe that, as a citizen, that if I can provide solutions, if I can develop new ideas -- and we're going to share these with all the candidates in both parties. If we can, as we have with the Center for Health Transformation, develop an entire generation of new ideas on health care, if we can do that on energy, on education, on national security, on immigration, that I've served as a citizen in a very effective way.

If, in that process, it becomes necessary to run, then I'll run. But I -- and I know this sounds naive, but the Contract with America preceded winning; it didn't follow it.

WALLACE: Last resort, not first resort.

GINGRICH: Last resort. WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, thank you so much. Always interesting. Please come back, sir.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

WALLACE: Up next, now that it's official, our Sunday regulars weigh in on Hillary Clinton's historic run for president. What does it mean for the race for the Democratic nomination? We'll be right back.



SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.: So let's talk. Let's chat. Let's start a dialogue about your ideas and mine, because the conversation in Washington has been just a little one-sided lately, don't you think?


WALLACE: That was Hillary Clinton announcing she'll form an exploratory committee to lay the groundwork for her campaign for president in 2008.

And it's time now for our Sunday regulars, Brit Hume, Washington managing editor of Fox News, and Fox News contributors Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and Juan Williams, also from National Public Radio.

Well, there was Hillary Clinton looking cozy in her living room couch talking about having a chat with the American people.

Brit, what do you make of her candidacy and what do you make of the way she decided to open it?

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS WASHINGTON MANAGING EDITOR: Well, it was an interesting way to open it. Actually, it fit the paradigm, if that's what it is, that Barack Obama used, with a Web statement, which I gather is, you know, the way to go now and, I suppose, particularly among Democrats.

The statement was fine. And she looked fine, and she looked comfortable, and she looked more approachable, perhaps, than in some settings in which we've seen her. She's got $14 million, which is pretty good for somebody who's just starting an exploratory committee.

The question is it's so early. I think it's very difficult to read this. It may be that, you know, she's just going to have it, and she's on her way, and these $14 million, and Democrats basically love her, and she's working her way around to a position on the war that Democrats can all accept, and she'll just coast to this.

On the other hand, it seems to me at least as possible that this thing will kind of go poof after a while and it won't work, that people don't warm to her, perhaps. I don't know. I mean, I feel fascinated.

WALLACE: Well, Mara, do you know?

MARA LIASSON, NPR: Yesterday in her video statement, she said I have a feeling this is going to be very interesting. And I think that's the understatement of the year. But no, I don't think she's going to go poof. That would be hard to imagine.

I think this will be a spirited race, though. I think she starts absolutely as the frontrunner, more money, more support, more experience, just -- the Clintons have, you know, deep roots in the party.

There is an eagerness on the part of some Democrats for an alternative to her. They think she can't win because she's too polarizing. But I think that video was the first blast in the effort to convince people that that's not true. She's warm. She's engaging.

I thought she came across as a lot more approachable, as Brit said, than her public image sometimes would suggest.

WALLACE: You've been watching her a long time, Mara.


WALLACE: Do you think that over the course of a campaign, in heated conversations and back and forth, that she can sell that, the cozy momma?

LIASSON: Well, that's a really good question and a couple questions about that. Number one, you've got Barack Obama, who now, in the polls at least, is her most formidable rival. He issued a statement yesterday that he doesn't consider the other candidates to be competitors -- not enemies, just competitors...

HUME: Oh, please.

LIASSON: ... he considers them to be allies. Now, that suggests that this race is not going to get bitter or partisan.

I don't know what kind of love-fest you're going to have in the Democratic primary, but that's kind of an interesting notion.

The other thing she said yesterday is she wants online video chats with people. She clearly wants to preserve some kind of level of intimacy and warmth in a campaign where she is going to be followed by more than, I predict, 100 press people at all times, just like Barack Obama is, and I just don't know how she goes into living rooms in New Hampshire and kind of has it happen on a logistical level.

But it's going to be a great race. These are strong, interesting, historic candidates on the Democratic side -- Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton -- we're going to have Bill Richardson get in today. I think it's going to be great.

WALLACE: Bill, let's talk about this, because she does certainly start out as the frontrunner in all the polls.

But if you look in the state polls -- and of course, in the beginning, that's all that's going to matter -- Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada -- John Edwards runs very strongly against her in Iowa, Barack Obama early on doing very well against her in New Hampshire.

Just how invincible is she?

BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD: Oh, not at all. Frontrunners lose sometimes. Muskie lost in 1972. He was a centrist candidate, a frontrunner very much like Hillary Clinton, lost to George McGovern, who rode an anti-war wave.

There are obvious candidates -- Obama, Al Gore -- who have been consistently against the Iraq war. Senator Clinton hasn't been. Her standing in the polls is decent for a frontrunner. But I think you're right, in Iowa and New Hampshire, not particularly strong.

And I think she's got real vulnerabilities. And she went earlier than she wanted to. You know, that's the big story, I think, of what happened. She had hoped to put this off for two, three, four more months, I think.

If you're the frontrunner, you like to stay back, let other people waste some money, you know, stay there in the polls without exposing yourself. And obviously the pressure of especially what Obama's been able to do in the last couple of months caused her to announce much earlier than she expected.

JUAN WILLIAMS, NPR: Well, I mean, to me, it's -- you know, what's interesting is everybody knows who Hillary Clinton is. There's no secrets there.

You spoke of baggage, Chris. I mean, when you compare the ideas -- I think it's like 41 percent in the last Washington Post poll that -- you know, her approval rating. But It's 100 percent that know Hillary Clinton.

So what is that disconnect? What is going on there? And why is it that Hillary Clinton, even though she far outpaces Barack Obama, John Edwards and the like -- why is it that people still have the strong emotional response? Is it about Bill Clinton? I think it is.

I think it's about Bill Clinton. I think it's about what happened in the scandals. I think it goes back to the health care controversy early on when she was given authority, and the sense that she lives in a bubble and is very, you know, sort of intellectual, limited group of people that have influence over her.

Now, on the other hand, I think, you know, when it comes to Iraq, she has been running a moderate course, and so some who are on the left in the Democratic Party actually see her as too political, too soft on Iraq, too soft on President Bush. But that might be the reason that she could actually get elected.

HUME: You know, it occurs to me that you may be right, Juan, about the reason why she's seen as so polarizing, but I don't think it's just because of her husband. I think even when her husband was president and people had their own feelings about him that they had, in many cases, even more intense feelings about her.

There is a feeling among those who do not like her that this is a cold, calculating woman who has a deep ideological agenda that she may never -- that one may never find out about, and that this effort she's making now to seem warm and approachable is much needed even for people who would support her positions because she seems distant and cold and much more threatening to a lot of people than her husband ever did.

WALLACE: Mara, let me bring Senator Obama into the mix, because we forget in the rush of news that it was this week that he announced that he is also running for president on his Web site. Let's take a look at a clip from his announcement.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.: We have to change our politics and come together around our common interests and concerns as Americans.


WALLACE: Is that his best shot to say that he is an agent of change, although he's been in Washington for two years, that he basically represents a new politics from outside Washington?

LIASSON: Well, clearly, that's how he's going to run. Now, other people have run as the messenger of new politics. He's going to have to put some meat on those bones. I mean, what exactly does that mean?

He says he wants to rise above the bitter partisanship and be a unifying force, and he certainly has the personal story and the political style to do that, but he has to explain exactly what it means.

Mrs. Clinton has a very detailed, deep grasp of policy, and he's going to have to match her because his experience or lack thereof is going to be one of his biggest vulnerabilities.

Also, just to point out, in terms of the -- in the video Web site announcement wars, I mean, he could have used a little more lighting in that room, too. It looked like he was talking from the bottom of a coffee can. But I think that he...

HUME: It looked better on the Web.

LIASSON: It looked better on the Web, right. But I do think -- look. What he has done in the Democratic Party is really not to be ignored. He is the buzz candidate.

He has generated more excitement than any other candidate coming out of the gate in a very, very, very long time. So he is a very formidable rival. He is a vessel of hope for a lot of people, and we'll see what he can do with that.

WALLACE: Juan, for all the fascination -- and there obviously is fascination with Obama and Clinton -- let's speak realistically. How much of an obstacle to run in the year 2007 and then '08 as either a woman or an African American -- do you really believe the country is ready to elect either as president?

WILLIAMS: Boy, I tell you, you stumped me, Chris, because my sense is that I think a woman has a better chance. A white woman has a better chance. I think white women, obviously, if you look around the country -- Nancy Pelosi...

WALLACE: Well, they're a majority, among other things.

WILLIAMS: Yes. I mean, I think they're more accepted in corporate America, more accepted in the media.

When you talk about things like experience, I mean, Hillary Clinton's had a term in the Senate, now starting her second. But I don't think it's that much greater in terms of foreign policy experience than Barack Obama.

HUME: I don't agree.

WILLIAMS: And I think in terms of Obama and race, I still think that there's -- and don't forget the idea that, you know, comes from a father who was a Muslim and all that.

I mean, I think that given we're at war with Muslim extremists, that presents a problem, and I think there's a lot of -- for all the openness to Obama and the whole idea of a fresh new start, I think race continues to be an issue.

HUME: I think race is an asset to Barack Obama. If Barack Obama was a white guy, he would be kind of an ordinary newcomer to the U.S. Senate. I think people are fascinated by and inspired by his story, and it's one of the things that's propelling him.

And I think most Americans, the overwhelming majority of Americans, deeply want to see African Americans get ahead in this country and they are proud of those that do.

And for Barack Obama, a lot of people would be impelled, I think, to vote for him for president, all other things being equal, in part because he's black. I think it's an asset.

WALLACE: All right. We need to take a break here.

But coming up, Democrats get ready to confront the president over his new Iraq policy. We'll examine the fallout right after this.


WALLACE: On this day in 1976, the first supersonic Concorde took off with commercial passengers. The Concorde flew at twice the speed of sound, cutting trans-Atlantic travel time by more than half. Stay tuned for more from our panel and our Power Player of the Week.



REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF.: The president knows that because the troops are in harm's way that we won't cut off the resources. That's why he's moving so quickly to put them in harm's way.


WALLACE: Some sharp comments on Friday from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the president's plan to send troops into Iraq.

And we're back now with Brit, Mara, Bill and Juan. Well, that was just part of Speaker Pelosi's attack. She said the president has dug a hole so deep that he can't see the light. She called it a stark blunder, and a White House spokesman responded by calling her remarks poisonous.

Bill Kristol, who's winning this argument, and does it really matter?

KRISTOL: It does matter, obviously. We need some domestic support to continue to prosecute the war. I think the Democrats have been winning in the short-term and are about to lose, because they have adopted the position either in a non-binding way, as with Joe Biden, or in a binding way, as with Hillary Clinton and others, that 140,000 troops in Iraq -- we support the soldiers, but now we're sending over a new commander. He wants an additional five brigades in Baghdad. He thinks it can make a difference. Sorry, no reinforcements.

I think if the Republicans are aggressive -- if the president's aggressive in framing this debate, and Republicans on the Hill, led by Senator McCain, are aggressive, they can really ask the American people what is the Democratic position here.

Do you leave the troops there to fight a war we're gradually losing and don't send the reinforcements that might give us a chance to turn it around? I think it's an untenable position the Democrats are in, and I think the president can now rally a decent chunk of the country to support his policy.

WILLIAMS: That's very optimistic. But I do think that the big story continues to be Republican dissent to the Republican president on the war and Iraq and the idea that there is a consensus forming about what a Democratic plan might be.

You see in these resolutions a suggestion that what the troops should be doing is fighting foreign fighters coming in, the so-called insurgents, protecting the U.S. in terms of making sure the oil lines stay in place, and forcing al-Maliki and the Iraqis to have some kind of compromise, so that they would have a sense that the U.S. is not going to be there forever.

And that requires setting some sort of time line. That's becoming the compromise. In addition, I guess, Hillary Clinton wants to throw in that we should escalate not in Iraq but in Afghanistan and make sure that we win that war.

HUME: There's only one thing that matters here, only one. And that is how well this new plan works. If it works effectively, violence in Baghdad is noticeably reduced and the militias are brought under some control, then all the people from Chuck Hagel, to Hillary Clinton, to everyone else -- Nancy Pelosi -- who are complaining about it are going to look foolish.

If it doesn't work, they'll win. WILLIAMS: Well, how long do you give it before we make that judgment, Mr. Hume?

HUME: I think it's got to be something within the next, you know -- by fall, we certainly should have -- things should look different. If they don't...

WALLACE: Boy, I don't get a sense from listening to Biden and Levin that they're going to give it to them.

HUME: No, but they don't -- what can they really do? I mean, what can they really do? Those troops are going in there. The president has the funds to put them there. They're going to cut the funds off and make them bring them out? I don't think that's going to happen.

I think the president will have a chance to prosecute this conflict in the way that he has chosen to do for a period of time, probably up to a year, and of course, he isn't going to want to keep prosecuting it that way if it isn't working anyway. So you know, I think the only thing that matters is does this work.

And all this political talk in Washington could backfire against those who are saying these things one way or the other.

LIASSON: Yes. Look, I agree with Brit that the president's best chance to regain popular support, obviously, is to show some success in Iraq. But in the short-term, the dilemma for the Democrats is just how far to take this.

I think they're with the country if they're just passing resolutions opposing the president's plan or disapproving of it. Now, Joseph Biden said earlier they're not going to go to cutting off funding. He said it wouldn't even be practical.

But if they do go to that step, to talk about cutting off funding, then they're, in essence, micro-managing the war and taking responsibility for what happens.

WALLACE: Well, let me ask you about that, Bill, because this has gotten -- this week particularly -- all tied up in 2008 Democratic politics, because you had Biden talking about non-binding resolutions, send a message.

John Edwards, who is not in Congress and doesn't have to vote, said no, no, no, messages aren't enough, you've got to take action.

And then this week we saw Dodd and Clinton and Obama all putting out their ideas, which was to put a real cap on the number of troops the president can send, which I know you think is just a terrible idea.

KRISTOL: They're leapfrogging each other in the degrees of irresponsibility they're willing to advocate, and I really think people are being too sort of complacent and forgiving almost of the Democrats. Oh, it's politics, of course. One of them has a non-binding resolution and the other one has a cap. It's all totally irresponsible. It's just unbelievable.

The president's sending over a new commander. He's sending over troops. And the Democratic Congress, either in a pseudo-binding way or non-binding way, is saying it won't work, forget it, you troops, you're going over there on a pointless mission.

Iraqis who might side with us -- forget it, we're going to pull the plug. It's so irresponsible that they can't just be quiet for six months or nine months and say the president's made a decision, we're not going to change that decision, we're not going to cut off funds and insist on the troops coming back, so let's give it a chance to work.

You really wonder, do they want it to work or not? I really wonder that. I hate to say this about the Democrats. They're people I know personally and I respect some of them. Do they want this to succeed or not?

WILLIAMS: I think everybody wants it to succeed who believes in the idea that we are over there and our people are at stake -- I don't think there's any question.

I think that's sort of a rhetorical tool on your part. But your analysis seems to me to be totally ahistorical. It's as if mistakes haven't been made repeatedly, as if people don't feel as if they've been misled down this path, that there has been tremendous support for this president and for this war effort, and it come to naught. It's come to a bad place.

Yesterday was the deadliest day, I think, in two years -- 19 Americans killed, Bill.

HUME: Juan...

WILLIAMS: There's something going on here you might pay attention to as opposed to just the pure politics of if you don't support this president, you don't really want us to win.

KRISTOL: What are the Democrats doing that would change the 19 Americans who were killed yesterday? Nothing. Zero, except no reinforcements, you guys are on your own. That's what they're saying.

WILLIAMS: Well, if you believe -- you think reinforcements are going to make some radical change -- no.

KRISTOL: Yes, I think they...

WILLIAMS: I think what Americans are saying...

KRISTOL: ... I think they would help.

WILLIAMS: I think what people are saying is it's time to re- deploy, look at new strategies, look at political compromise. HUME: Juan...

WILLIAMS: That's what's not being done by this administration.

HUME: Juan, serious people recognize one thing, and we are short of serious people nowadays, which is that wars get into bad places and even winning conflicts do.

And you talk about an ahistorical view. It strikes me that the view that you're espousing is very much that. You look at any major war that's been fought over a period of time, and the winning side has had terrible moments and stretches of time when it appears victory might not be possible.

And the question then becomes what do you do at times like that. The president at least has changed his approach, is bringing in more troops, and the plan at least on paper has some apparent potential to work.

What you have from the Democrats is the idea, as Nancy Pelosi put it, this isn't a war to be won -- now, you claim they want success. This isn't a war to be won, she says.

WILLIAMS: I think they do.

HUME: She says it is a conflict to be resolved, and their answer is retreat. You call it redeployment. It's a euphemism, Juan. It's retreat.

WILLIAMS: You've run out the clock, but we'll come back to it next week, I'm sure.

WALLACE: You know what? I bet you're right. I bet we will. Yes, a conversation to be continued. Thank you all, panel. See you next week.

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