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Special Report Roundtable - February 13

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: In the next 60 days, we expect North Korea to shut down and seal the Pyongyang nuclear facilities for the purpose of abandonment. The IAEA will return to the country to conduct all necessary monitoring and verification.

The DPRK will also discuss a list of all programs including the plutonium extracted from fuel rods. These programs will also be abandoned.

JOHN BOLTON, FMR AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I'm afraid North Korea has won. Once again they've made a hollow promise, and they're going to get tangible economic benefits as a consequence of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: So this deal gets some criticism from the right, from John Bolton, who fears that North Korea will get the large amounts of oil -- fuel oil that it has been promised, and will then renege on its promises to undo the nuclear program.

Some thoughts on this deal now from Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard; Mort Kondracke, same job at Roll Call; and Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio -- all are FOX NEWS contributors.

So, what about this? To hear Secretary Rice lay it out, if the North follows up on this, this is kind of what you want. Democrats are complaining, for reasons I'm not as clear on, as I was about what John Bolton is saying. What about it -- Fred.

FRED BARNES, WEEKLY STANDARD: Well look, I think there's one thing that is different here from the deal that the Clinton administration made in 1994 that was violated by the North Koreans and that is the Chinese.

The North Koreans where free -- and this is why President Bush was smart never to go on one-on-one talks and do another agreement with the North Koreans, because they would be free to break it. Now, they're not quite as free with the Chinese in there, now, and the Chinese -- this is the thing I heard from people in the administration that the Chinese now have a different perspective, they are viewing the North Koreans differently, they are viewing them as an albatross around China as it emerges as an important notation -- a much more important nation in the world. And so they've decided to begin a crackdown.

If the Chinese weren't there, if the U.S. had just done this deal with the North Koreans, it would be a complete waste, but with the Chinese there, the North Koreans are going be very, very wary of violating this deal, I think.

MORT KONDRACKE, ROLL CALL: Yeah, there's another difference from the 1994 deal. This time we're not only -- that time we supplied not only fuel oil, but also two nuclear reactors. This -- if followed through on, and that's a big if, this means the total denuclearization of North Korea, which is a -- would be a major accomplishment.

And Fred's right, I mean, the key difference here and why the Democrats are wrong when they say, "oh, Bush could have had this a long time ago," I mean, the Chinese and Japanese were indispensable to this happening.

When North Koreans tested a missile and then had a nuclear test, that really turned to the Chinese around. I mean, it was a humiliation to the Chinese.

HUME: Because China had warned against doing it.

KONDRACKE: Because China -- and, as I understand it, China actually cut North Korea's oil supplies off for a month, which certainly got their attention. Meanwhile, the Japanese changed the name of their self-defense forced to defense force, and liked themselves up with the United States missile defense system and stuff, and things were changing, and I thing that's what pressured everybody into disagreement.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Yeah, there's no doubt that the -- it seemed more urgent this time then it did when the Clinton administration was negotiating with North Korea and that these rewards for the North Koreans are laid out in steps. They're not going to get the second one unless they do the first one.

But, you know, John Bolton is afraid this going to end up the exact same way as the first agreement. He and the Democrats can both be right. I mean, they think this is a good thing, it just should have happened earlier.

But we'll see. And I guess, if the North Koreans start cheating, there is verification in here, and they won't be able to go forward.

HUME: What does this do to the -- if anything, to rebut the critics who have said as recently as that poor guy we mentioned earlier who had written a piece that now publishes that said, you know, this is a failure of serious engagement with Pyongyang, and so forth and that it basically said that this whole system of negotiating the way we've done in this, has been a failure? Does this...

LIASSON: Yeah, I mean look, this is multilateral diplomacy, which is what Democrats have asked the Bush administration to do.

HUME: In other areas.

LIASSON: In other areas. Now, in this era, when it looked like they weren't getting anywhere, the Democratic critics of the administration were saying you should talk directly to North Korea. Turns out maybe that wasn't necessary in this case.

KONDRACKE: You know, the difference is, I think this is a vindication not just of multilateral diplomacy, but coercive diplomacy. In other words, the Chinese were turning the ratchet on North Korea and made them come to terms. And the United States -- you know, what the Democrats want to do is talk to everybody, as though talking will solve problems, and you'd not -- you would not have to have any will hurt in the problems and you don't have to have any levers in the process. And if the agreement falls apart or the other side cheats, you've done something wrong. You haven't given enough.

You know, some conservatives never want to have a deal with anybody. I mean, John Bolton is saying that the only answer here is to destroy -- is to undermine the North Korean government and then have a peaceful reunification of the peninsula. It might be a not peaceful reunification. So, I mean, coercive diplomacy, I think this is very Reaganesque, if it could be applied to Iran, that would be great, if we could find the levers, but that's the answer, I think.

BARNES: Look, the critics, particularly Democratic critics, if they can't recognize the difference between a treaty between the U.S. and North Korea and a treaty involving the Chinese, the Japanese, the South Koreans, and the U.S., and the Russians with the North Koreans, then they're being untruthful.

HUME: Yeah, you'd thing that based on their record on other issues that they would embrace this as the absolute model. And maybe some of them eventually will. In the meantime, next up, we're going to talk about the former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, who is -- wants to be president. He has entered the race for the Republican nomination. We'll talk about his chances next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How is the American family made stronger? With marriage before children, with a mother and father in the life of every child. With health care that's affordable and portable. With schools that succeed, with taxes that are lower, and with leaders who strive to demonstrate enduring values and morality. This was my agenda I pursued as governor of Massachusetts, and it's the agenda I'll pursue if I'm elected your president. I appreciate you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: A formal entry into the presidential race by Mitt Romney, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts. Let's get a sense, perhaps of the climb he faces as he tries to be the No. 1 man in the Republican field. Let's look at the latest FOX NEWS poll opinion of Mitt Romney.

You'll see that favorable is 11 percent --we're trying to get this up on the screen, but in the meantime I will read it to you. "Favorable" 11 percent, "unfavorable" 22 percent -- there it is. "Can't say" 24, 43 "never heard of."

Now the hard number there, that you can say oh boy twice as many people are "unfavorable," now that's not the number that would bother you if you're a candidate, it's the "never heard" 43 and "can't say" 24. That means 67 percent of the people in the country really don't know anything about the guy.

So, that's where he stands, and he's well behind the other candidates in the field as well. And yeah, let's take a look at the vote in the Republican primaries.

See that, Romney's at three. Giuliani is, you know, much farther along. McCain and Gingrich, a lot of that is name recognition, but name recognition matters in politics.

And on the question of his religion, he's a Mormon, as many of you know and that likelihood of voting for a presidential candidate if the were a Christian coalition, "less likely" 24 percent, Mormon, "more likely" nine percent, "less likely" 32 percent, Muslim, Atheist, and Scientologist finish after that, but that's not a favorable number, at least at the moment.

So, questions about Mitt Romney abound, a lot of people who have gotten a close look at him have been impresses with him. What about him -- Mara.

LIASSON: Well, you know, it's interesting that his poll numbers really are - there's a disconnection between all those numbers you read and the then kind of buzz that surround him. He actually is considered to be, for people who think that Giuliani in the end will not be able to win a Republican nomination because of his liberal social views, he is considered to be the main rival by many, to John McCain.

And he's gotten -- he's played the inside game very well, raised a lot of money, he could self-finance if he wanted to...

(CROSSTALK)

Dennis Hastert, John Maynard, he has tremendous congressional -- which is kind of interesting, every two years when House Republicans are in trouble, the want John McCain to campaign for them, but there isn't a lot of love lost between House Republicans and John McCain.

In any event, he's got that. And he's been going around the country kind of trying to scoop up the social conservatives to make himself the true conservative alternative to McCain, who is -- you still would have to say, is the frontrunner. And I think the question is going to be will his, kind of, late conversion to pro-life, anti-stem cells, anti-gay marriage be acceptable to a broad swath of Republican primary voters, not just the social conservatives that he's won over?

KONDRACKE: Yeah, thought his announcement speech, today, had echoes of Barack Obama. It was, you know, people are tired of petty politics and bickering and bombast and all that, we need to change Washington by somebody from the outside.

On the other hand, he also said that what we need is a manager, somebody who can run things.

HUME: Well, he's done that.

KONDRACKE: Yeah, and he has and he said, "We don't want somebody who's never managed anything bigger than a corner store -- hasn't even managed a corner store" and I think that was a dig at McCain probably, and...

HUME: Not at Giuliani.

KONDRACKE: Not at Giuliani. And he has run something. I mean, he took this Bain investment firm, which basically specialized in turnarounds, and made a half a billion dollars.

HUME: Well, the other thing he did, of course is, he took that (INAUDIBLE) from the Salt Lake City Olympics in '02, which was a regular mess and got that straightened out.

KONDRACKE: Yeah, and so, I mean, in those terms, I think he's a lot of pluses going for him, and today he was emphasizing, in any way he could, conservatism, you know, family, god, low taxes, all that stuff.

BARNES: I think I'm hanging around with Mort too much because of visions of Barack Obama -- likeness as scathing as it is.

KONDRACKE: Fleeting.

BARNES: No, it didn't, I thought of it too, and something wrong there. In any case, you know, he's running, each party now has the anti- wash (ph) and a candidate, Barack Obama in the Democrats...

HUME: Although he's more of a creature of Washington...

LIASSON: Romney's way too establishment, I mean, to ever be a true outsider, I think.

HUME: Well how about Obama?

(CROSSTALK)

LIASSON: Well, yeah, Obama, I thought you...

(CROSSTALK)

BARNES: Look, Ronald Reagan ran for reelection as the anti-wash in a candidate in 1984 when he was president, so you can do it, he did it amazingly well.

Look, I think that all these polls that you emphasize, Brit, I think they be nothing. I think he starts out on an equal footing, with an equal chance, with Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. They're a lot better known. The easiest number to deal with is the 43 percent who don't know him. They will now in January...

HUME: Of next year.

BARNES: In Iowa and New Hampshire -- they'll darn well know who he is and they'll know him very well.

HUME: Now, will he have plenty -- he won't be in danger of having his candidacy collapse if it doesn't catch fire, he'll have plenty of money, will he or not?

LIASSON: He could write a check...

HUME: Well, I understand that, I'm just -- you know, some guys don't like to do that.

LIASSON: Well, then that's the question. But you know...

HUME: Quickly.

LIASSON: You know, I just differ with Mort, I don't think the country wants a manager, they want someone who can keep us safe and lead us.

For more visit the FOX News Special Report web page.

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