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Special Report Roundtable - February 6

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRY REID (D-NV), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: We believe the American people feel members of the United States Senate should stand and be counted on how they feel about that. Any talk about the Gregg amendment is a distraction.

SEN. JUDD GREGG (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I find it almost incomprehensible that the Democratic leader doesn't want to vote on this language. It is not radical language, it is fairly reasonable language.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: Well, there you have it, late today the Republicans in the Senate went to the Democrats in the Senate and said, how about this? You only wanted two resolutions on Iraq, OK, we'll do two, we'll do the one you like, the Warner-Levin amendment and we'll do the Greg amendment instead of the McCain amendment.

Now, what is it about the Gregg amendment? You heard Senator Reid mentioning it earlier and you, of course, heard Gregg on the subject of its reason. So, if it's reasonable or if it's not or it's a distraction, what is it? Well Mort, what is it?

MORT KONDRACKE, ROLL CALL: Well it says, basically...

Oh, excuse me. I'm sorry, I need to introduce you. You're of course Mort. First, Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard; Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call, as you saw; and Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio -- FOX NEWS contributors, all. My apologies. Mort, go ahead.

KONDRACKE: Well, the Gregg resolution says that the president is in charge of the troops and he can put them wherever he wants. Secondly, that it's the duty of the Congress to support the troops and therefore there shouldn't be any fund cutoff of the troops.

HUME: So, why are Democrats resistant to having that voted on along with their resolution which states Congress is -- or the Senate, at least in this case, is disapproval of the troop surge?

KONDRACKE: Well, for two reasons, because their disapproval resolution would not get 60 votes, which is what it would take to pass and the Gregg resolution would. I think that it would be -- I think that they should both come up for a vote. It would be a very good snapshot of where the country is at the moment. You'd get a majority of votes for the war and a resolution, disapproving of the surge and you'd also get an overwhelming vote in favor of the supporting the troops. However, what the Democrats don't want to do is put themselves on record as saying we are not going to defund this war because down the line, believe me they are going to want to defund the war.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: And already, some parts of the Democratic Party, some members of the Senate want to defund it now. It's really -- all of this maneuvering is the kind of thing that would make the average Americans' eyes glaze over, but this is what an astute minority can do.

And weeks and weeks ago, the Republicans were talking about putting a resolution saying exactly this, you know, let's defund the war and see how many Democrats will vote for it or at least now it's the Gregg language. And this is what the Senate is about. Takes 60 votes to pass anything and if you don't have the 60 votes, you know, you're likely to perhaps have egg on your face.

However, this is going to go on and on and on and I think eventually they will come to some agreement and we will get votes on something.

FRED BARNES, WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, you're going to have to -- the agreements have -- is going to have to be that Democrats relent and allow a vote on Gregg. I don't know why they don't. I mean, they can't -- eventually, the mainstream media is going to have to admit that Democrats could easily have this debate they say Republicans are blocking. All they have to do is agree to let the Gregg amendment be voted on and both of them, the Gregg Amendment and the Warner-Levin amendment to be passed or not by 60 votes.

You know, one of the reasons the Democrats don't want the Gregg resolution is because it would cover actually, 10,000, at least 10,000 members of the surge that are already there in Iraq. You know, there was this brigade in Kuwait that's part of the surge, the increase in troops and it's already moved in Iraq, it's in the field in Iraq. And then there's -- there are other soldiers who are part of it whose time Iraq has been extended. So, there's some elements of the surge already there, if you pass the Gregg amendment you would have to break your word if you voted for it and then try to defund the soldiers over there.

But if -- look, the truth is that Mitch McConnell is a lot cleverer and smarter and able on the floor than Harry Reid is. And he's zinged him again today.

HUME: Is it true, really, that -- I mean is it fair to say that the minority, which of course, as we all know, at times if you're in the majority, it must feel, it sounds like the minority is running the place.

LIASSON: That's how the Republicans...

(CROSSTALK)

Look, Harry Reid is not bad at this either. I mean, let's give him his due.

HUME: Yeah, that's right.

LIASSON: I mean, this is what the minority in the Senate does and when it came to judicial filibusters, the Republicans said, oh, this is obstructionism and they ran a whole big P.R. campaign. Now that Republicans are blocking this, Democrats are running a P.R. campaign saying they don't want...

(CROSSTALK)

This is just the shoe is on the other foot syndrome.

HUME: But, isn't it fair to say that the Democrats, at least as the Republicans in this case, are blocking?

LIASSON: Well sure, but everybody is doing it for their own interests.

HUME: Well, of course they are.

LIASSON: I mean, that's what always happens.

BARNES: Look, the press reported that it was only the Republicans who were blocking this debate. The Democrats are blocking it as well by not allowing a vote on these other resolutions like the Gregg resolution.

KONDRACKE: They had a debate, half the day.

LIASSON: Yeah, they actually been debating this, yes.

KONDRACKE: There was no debate that was blocked. I mean, if anybody wants to know...

HUME: The only thing that was being voted on was a cloture (INAUDIBLE) petition, which is a measure to stop debate.

KONDRACKE: Yeah. Well...

HUME: Which the Democrats had -- were putting forth.

KONDRACKE: Exactly, but you know, what's going to happen is that the Republicans are going to bring up the Gregg language again and again and again and it's going to be voted on some time...

LIASSON: Just like the Democrats will bring up the Biden-Warner language.

BARNES: Yeah, but nobody objects to it being voted on. It's just Democrats who object to the Gregg language being voted on.

HUME: So, who wins in this?

BARNES: Well so far, McConnell, but you know, somebody's going -- somebody's going to have to give and I think it's the Democrats.

HUME: But when it's -- if they both get active on it, will there be kind of a draw?

LIASSON: Yeah, because there will be a vote of disapproval of the policy. And then there'll also be a vote not to defund the troops.

HUME: A larger...

LIASSON: I actually thing that might not be so bad for Democrats, politically. Why is it bad to vote...

KONDRACKE: Because when they get around to deciding that they want to defund the troops, then this will be played back to them and the flip- flop...

LIASSON: Yeah, not all of them want to defund the surge.

KONDRACKE: They voted for the troops before they voted against them.

LIASSON: Yeah, OK.

HUME: When we come back with our panel, what will Republican presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani, stand for and what will he have to explain? We'll look at his candidacy, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, HANNITY AND COLMES: You are then officially running to be the next president of the United States?

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FMR NEW YORK MAYOR: Well, we still have to formally announce it and do a few more things, but this is about as close as you're going to get. I mean, we did everything you have to do, I guess legally to do it, then you still have to make a formal announcement, do things like that.

HANNITY: Are you in it to win it?

GIULIANI: Gosh, yeah. I mean, that's the only reason to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: Well, that was a former mayor Rudy Giuliani on HANNITY AND COLMES on the FOX NEWS CHANNEL last night and everybody agrees that that takes him a little bit closer and that he's in it, as he suggested, in it to win it.

Let's take a quick look at an average of polls taken in the month of January in the presidential race and the Republican Party. As you can see Giuliani in this average where the -- which lowers the margin of error quite a bit, has a five point spread over his nearest rival, John McCain, who is -- has been sort of Washington's frontrunner for a long time.

Newt Gingrich clocks in and Mitt Romney below that. Newt Gingrich is farthest way, I would say, from announcing his candidacy.

But, let's talk about Giuliani for a moment. He now says that, yes, he still favors abortion rights, but he's for the ban on partial birth abortion because he says, there's the life of the mother exception. That's a change.

He has been pretty favorable toward gay rights, but now he says he's against gay marriage. Maybe he has been all along, I don't know. Is he in a position there, with stands like that, where he can appeal to the nominating element of the Republican Party which is pretty conservative?

LIASSON: That is the $60,000 -- or maybe now it's the $60 million question about Giuliani. Look, he said he's going to appoint conservative judges. I don't know if that really obviates all of the other positions he's taken with social conservatism. I think it's going to be hard. I mean, he's for partial birth abortion because it's a law already.

HUME: For the ban, you mean.

LIASSON: I mean, for the ban, yeah. And I think, this is the big question about him. One thing that is interesting is how open Republican primary voters are to his candidacy. Those numbers don't show a complete total ignorance of his positions. I mean, the fact that he is the hero of 9/11 goes a long way. Republicans are clearly unhappy with all the choices they had before and there's no natural conservative in the race.

HUME: Well, he sure fired up the faithful, too, with at that Republican convention in '04.

LIASSON: Right. So, the big question is can his national security credentials and just his leadership experience and style overcome these other things? In the end, I think it's going to be very, very hard.

KONDRACKE: Me too. You know, all of these litmus tests that used to be killers for conservatives, gay-rights and abortion and gun control, above all -- for the conservative base of the party to just throw all this over and say, well, he's a tough guy, he was an effective mayor and we'll forget about that, I think is a stretch. I mean, it's possible. He's very charming buy. He's a very, you know, he is a tough guy. He had a great record and there was a Gallup poll that indicated the people -- Republicans think that he would be a stronger leader than McCain, a better speaker, more, you know...

HUME: He probably is better speaker.

KONDRACKE: Yeah. All of that stuff. So, he's got some appeal. There's one point, though, the three times that he ran in New York State, he ran not only on the Republican line, but also on the liberal line. Now, that's going to take some explain to do, I think.

BARNES: I don't think so. Nobody's going to bother with that. I think people that care about what he's saying out on the stump, I don't think they're going to dwelling on what line he was on and what over lines he was on when he was running in New York.

KONDRACKE: Well, if you accept a Liberal Party nomination, that is in New York, that means something.

BARNES: The truth is, I think he has an excellent chance of winning the nomination. I wouldn't make him the frontrunner right now, I think the McCain still is. But people like him. There's a reason why his polls have stood up so well, it's not because voters are stupid and don't know about his social liberalism, which is there. But he's not running on it. He's running on these other things and he's not trying to stick his views on abortion and gay civil unions and so on down the throats of conservative voters who don't want that.

He's running on low taxes and what he did in New York. I think there are two striking things about Rudy Jolly -- Rudy Giuliani that no other candidate can match -- one, it's the whole 9/11 thing, where he was in a crisis and we saw how he performed. He performed extremely well. And secondly, it's New York City when he was mayor. You know, you can go to New York City and feel and see the difference that he made in that city as mayor. And I don't think you can say that about any mayor in any other city in the country.

HUME: And maybe not about many governors.

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