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Special Report Roundtable - February 19

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nobody would have believed this crowd right here in South Carolina. Just like they wouldn't have believed the announcement we had in Springfield, Illinois, because they would have said it cannot happen, but it was happening.


HUME: That was Barack Obama in South Carolina over the last couple of days, and he was saying that 20 years ago -- that would have back in the campaign of 1987 and 1988, that nothing like the excitement that he generated in South Carolina had occurred.

Of course, Jesse Jackson won the primary in South Carolina, Democratic primary in 1988, and his candidacy had received considerable excitement four years earlier when he ran into Mondale, what turned out to be a Mondale-Hart race and he stirred up quite an excitement at the Democratic convention, as well. So, there was questioned about Barack Obama's either memory or his knowledge.

Some thoughts on all this now from Fred Barnes, the executive editor of the Weekly Standard; Juan Williams, senior correspondent of National Public Radio; and the syndicated columnist, Charles Krauthammer -- FOX NEWS contributors all.

Does it matter that Barack Obama seem to have a kind of a faulty or partial memory of the history of African-Americans of presidential races?

FRED BARNES, WEEKLY STANDARD: Yeah, I don't really think did, Brit. I mean, his campaign is so different from Jesse Jackson's. Jesse Jackson had no chance of winning the nomination -- the Democratic presidential nomination.

HUME: But he caused a lot of excitement.

BARNES: Jesse Jackson, he did, but it was almost entirely in the black community. Obama's biggest support, right now, is among with Liberals. It's a completely different campaign now. I mean, he's an African-American, he's not running as an African-American. Obviously, I think, at the end of the day, in the primaries, he'll pick up a large chunk of the African-American vote, which is about half the vote in the Democratic primary in South Carolina, and he'll benefit from that, but it's just a complete -- I think, a completely different candidacy.

I mean, his support at that Columbia, South Carolina rally was about 50 percent white, 50 percent of black. I don't think Jesse Jackson got crowds like that.

JUAN WILLIAMS, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: I don't think there's any way, but you know it's interesting; he has to be very careful in terms of how he handles that history, because that history is real. We're not making up stuff when we say that Jesse Jackson had a stunning impact in South Carolina and won. But the think is that it was...

HUME: And I was -- I remember that, I covered that. I was on his campaign.

WILLIAMS: I was there as well, and I got to tell you, it was quite a crusade and for black voters down in South Carolina, you know, which is the home of Clairton (ph) County, Brown versus Board of Education and all the rest -- it was an unprecedented kind of fervor, the idea that suddenly there was a black person running for president...

HUME: But Fred's point is that it was nearly -- it was restricted to a great extent to the African-American community...

WILLIAMS: That's the key point. I think Fred's on the money here, that there's no doubt about it. What you're seeing now with Obama is his support is rooted in the white community -- a young white people, (INAUDIBLE) college crowds are just going bananas for him, and that was not taking place for Jesse Jackson. In fact, you know, we think back, Al Sharpton had posted all his hopes on South Carolina, and Al Sharpton didn't do very well in South Carolina, at all.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, but it's a small misstep, but I think it is a misstep in tone. Technically he's right. If he was referring to the racial composition of the crowd, yes, this was new, but there is the element of the excitement of a crowd and the impact it made, and it looks as if it's a bit of a slight to the people who came before him. And obviously, it was on the shoulders of Jackson, and even if you like, Al Sharpton, the oppositional, ethnic, racial, in a way sectarian, if you like, candidates, on which Obama is riding. And it's a whole new age.

The reason, for example, why Sharpton is rather glum and disappointed whenever he talks about Obama, Sharpton's day is over. It reached a day, in the country, where we've transcended that kind of sectarian, narrow candidacy, and we saw it in -- a few years ago with the Colin Powell. Had he run, he would have had that same national impact. If you had a -- Condoleezza Rice who was running, it would be the same way. We are now at a stage where the national candidate -- at that stage didn't exist 20 years ago, and that's the big difference.

WILLIAMS: I think it's a huge difference and it so telling that in South Carolina you got two state senators, Brit, Darrell Jackson and Robert Ford, who both have come out in support of Hillary Clinton. The really telling comment came from state Senator Ford who said if you have a black man at the top of the Democratic ticket, there's no way that any Democrats' going to win it. They're going to lose the Senate, the House, they're going to lose everything.

HUME: And he wasn't just talking about the South Carolina Senate race, he was talking about the national Senate.

WILLIAMS: The United States Senate.

KRAUTHAMMER: They're going to lose their shirts.

WILLIAMS: They're going to lose everything, Charles. So this is what he said, and since then, he has been furiously backling (ph) because Obama came out and said, oh there are people who said you shouldn't sit at the lunch counter, said you shouldn't ride in the from of the bus and he fits in with that model. But I think it tells you something about old line black politics and their resistance to Obama.

BARNES: That's just bad analysis -- that's what I thought, bad political analysis. I mean, Obama can win the Democratic nomination, he can win the presidency. I don't think he's going to be the next president, but he has a shot -- a real shot. But Jesse Jackson never did.

HUME: All right, well let's pose this question. If he were to fail, either in the primaries or in a general election, what would the principal reason be? Would it be the experience issue or would it be the race issue?

BARNES: No, it would be the power of the Hillary Clinton campaign issue.

HUME: OK, that takes care of the primary, but assume he surmounted that and got into a general election, which is what I think Ford was talking about -- Robert Ford...

BARNES: Well, he's also much, much more liberal than the country. We have a center-right country, and he's pretty far to the left.

WILLIAMS: And on the whole issue of experience, he's 45-years-old, you could say that Governor Bush, now President Bush, didn't have foreign policy experience, but I think we're at a different point in American history.

KRAUTHAMMER: It would be inexperience in a wartime and politics to the left of the country. He would lose on the basis. On race...

HUME: But race would not be the factor that he would lose?

KRAUTHAMMER: There are a finite number of Americans who will not support an African-American in the presidency. There are also...

HUME: Are they larger than the number of people who would never vote for Hillary?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, but there's also a number of people who would want to support a black candidate in order to have something happen in the country which would be historically important, and I'm one of them. So, which number is larger? I'm not sure, but I think it's near enough that it would be a wash.

HUME: Charles Krauthammer has just come out for Barack Obama.



He might not be the one. Condi Rice is my candidate.

HUME: When we come back with our panel, where will Senate Democrats turn now after their failure of their non-binding resolution on the Iraqi troop surge -- Iraq troop surge? We'll discuss that next.



SEN JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Our majority leader, the senator from Nevada, called the Senate into session on Saturday and let me tell you what we voted on -- so that we could debate a cloture vote to cut off debate on a motion to proceed to another cloture vote to cut off debate about a meaningless resolution. That was your tax dollars of work, my friends, last Saturday.


HUME: Well, that was John McCain ridiculing the actions of Senate Democrats and also perhaps explaining why he hadn't bothered to show up for that vote on Saturday in which Democrats tried, once again, to advance the sense of the Congress resolution disapproving of the Iraq troop surge President Bush is putting forth and Republicans blocked it, at the same time Democrats refused to allow Republicans to vote on a resolution that they're introducing which forswears any attempt to cut off funds.

So, where does this debate now stand? Senator Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committees, seems cool to the idea that John Murtha is proposing over in the House. Democrat John Murtha is proposing where you would set such standards for the troops, and if they weren't perfectly equipped you couldn't put them in the field, and he believes that that would be a subtle way of, in effect, cutting the funds to the troops.

Levin seems to think that the idea would be to amend the approval - - the authorization the president got to go to war in Iraq by limiting the mission.

What is going to happen here?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think they're going to try, by Levin's standards, to limit the mission. I don't think cutting the funding...

HUME: That's not -- that would have -- that would be subject to a veto, wouldn't it?

WILLIAMS: No -- well, yeah, the president -- but then the president would have to veto funding, so that's the trap...

HUME: In other words, they've attached that to the funding...

WILLIAM: Exactly, so it would be a trap for the president, and therefore the whole issue would be exactly what are the limits that you place on the function of the U.S. military there, and Levin is saying go after al Qaeda, protect U.S. assets in the field, and train Iraqi forces, but do not get involved in a civil war. And I think that's what's gaining momentum.

HUME: How would you ever draw the line on that -- the battle field?

KRAUTHAMMER: If you look at what Levin has talked about, he wants to reauthorize the use of force with a new resolution, but it would exclude combat missions. Think about that. Use of force, but it doesn't allow combat. It's an oxymoron; it's intended to make it impossible to conduct the war. Imagine, you'd have to have lawyers around General Petraeus in Baghdad every time he sends out a troop on patrol to decide if it's in a legal support function or if it's an illegal combat mission.

Look, some Democrats think the war is lost. If you think that, the honorable answer is to end the war and Congress has the power to cut off the funds tomorrow. What the Democrats are doing instead is to make the war unwinnable.

Levin would do it with a ridiculous amendment which would authorize force but not combat, and Murtha, in the House, would do it by, as he said, making it impossible for Petraeus to have the troop reinforcements and the command authority to win. So, if you want to end the war, end it, but don't make it unwinnable, which is what various Democratic amendments and propositions are all about.

BARNES: Yeah but Charles, what you don't understand is that cutting the funding is very unpopular...

KRAUTHAMMER: That's why they're doing it.

BARNES: Yeah, I know that, that's why -- I mean, the public's against the war, but they don't want to cut off the funds for troops there or for troops who might get there. They don't want to cut off that funding so now Democrats are involved in self-inflicted flailing about to come up with some other way. You have the Murtha way, which is actually putting a condition on funding, in other words, you can only fund troops that meet certain tests, and then this idea of Levin to change the war resolution and no doubt there'll be in another swatch of ideas coming out there as well. It ought to be the Democrats...


HUME: Is it clear to you, though, that Murtha -- that Levin is insufficiently unenthusiastic about the Murtha idea to suggest that the Murtha idea, while it might get out of the House, would not get through the Senate, would probably not end up part of the funding bill that goes to the president.

BARRENS: Indeed, because it's too close to actual defunding. And it's -- as Levin said, I guess on FOX NEWS Sunday, yesterday, that you can't get that, you can't -- you wouldn't be able to get a cutoff funding, and this is close to it. And so politically, that makes sense for him. But I think it does make the Democrats look ridiculous. This flailing about for some way to get out of Iraq to impose defeat on Iraq.

WILLIAMS: I don't think it's about imposing defeat. I think you have to acknowledge and Charles doesn't want to do this either -- it's not Democrats that are saying the war can't be won, it's circumstance, it's history, it's al Maliki not cooperating with our efforts -- the U.S. efforts to try...

BARNES: He is now, of course.

WILLIAMS: Al Maliki has not been a faithful steward, and we're trying to work with him, because people know that if you don't work with him, then what are you talking about. You're talking about, then, forcing him out and the U.S. permanently occupying Iraq. So, what we're doing is, here, the Democrats -- the United States is going in there and making the last gasp effort to...

HUME: Juan, you...

WILLIAMS: It's unwinnable because of the situation on the ground, not Democrats.

HUME: You done something you accused me of doing the other. You've run out the clock. That's the last word.

For more visit the FOX News Special Report web page.

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