Top Videos
Related Topics
2008 Polls NationalIowaNew HampshireGeneral Election
GOP | DemGOP | DemGOP | DemHead-to-Head

Send to a Friend | Print Article

Chuck Schumer, Newt Gingrich, Roundtable

Fox News Sunday

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace. More trouble for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, next on "Fox News Sunday."

Today, two very different views of America's future. We'll discuss Iraq, Iran, domestic policy and the race for the White House with two of the big thinkers in U.S. policy, Senator Charles Schumer and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Plus, Nancy Pelosi gets hammered for her trip to Syria. Did she make a foreign policy blunder or is she the victim of a political hit job? We'll poll our Sunday regulars, Brit Hume, Mara Liasson, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams.

And our Power Player of the Week, carving up Washington with his sharp wit, all right now on "Fox News Sunday."

Good morning and happy Easter from Fox News in Washington. Here's a quick check of the latest headlines. Attorney General Gonzales is at the center of a new story today about an embarrassing episode for the Bush White House.

The Washington Post reports in late 2004 Gonzales took charge of vetting the nomination of former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik to be secretary of homeland security.

Despite questions about Kerik's ethics, the president named him. One week later, Kerik withdrew his nomination under fire.

New Mexico Governor and presidential candidate Bill Richardson is in North Korea trying to recover the remains of U.S. servicemen killed in the Korean War. The trip is endorsed by the Bush administration.

And on this Easter Sunday, Pope Benedict appeared before tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's square. In his Easter message, the pope expressed concern over what he called the continual slaughter in Iraq as well as instability in Afghanistan.

And we're joined now by two of the best minds in American politics, Senator Charles Schumer, who joins us from his home state of New York, and here in studio, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Gentlemen, happy Easter and welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."


SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Happy holiday to all.

WALLACE: Let's start with the growing confrontation over the White House and Congressional Democrats over Iraq war spending.

Senator Schumer, you are going to, in the next few weeks, send the president a bill that attaches a timetable for withdrawal to $100 billion in spending for the troops. Now, we all know that the president is then going to veto it.

My question is what happens next. Having made your political point, will Democrats then strip the timetable from the bill and send the troops the money they need?

SCHUMER: Well, first, Chris, you're right, we have two goals throughout. One is to fully support our troops.

In this resolution that we will send the president, we are giving actually even a little more money for the troops than the president has requested. And nothing -- nothing -- will stand in our way of supporting the troops in every way.

But, second, at the same time, we believe very deeply that we need a change in strategy in Iraq. We are now basically policing a civil war. The age-old enmity between the Sunnis and the Shiites is displaying itself in Iraq, as everyone knew it would, and our troops are busy policing that civil war. That is nothing -- nothing -- that the American people...

WALLACE: But, Senator, my question...

SCHUMER: ... bargained for.

WALLACE: Because we have limited time, my question is will you -- when the president vetoes it, will you then strip the timetable out and just send a clean bill with just the spending?

SCHUMER: Look, the president's view is the only way you can support the troops is do exactly what he wants, to rubber-stamp what he wants. That is not what we will do.

Should he veto this bill, which means he will be vetoing the money for the troops, we will try to come up with a way, by talking with the White House, trying to compromise with the White House, that both supports the troops and yet changes the strategy in Iraq, which we feel is misguided.

And by the way, 70 percent of the American people feel it's misguided. If a change in strategy means not supporting the troops, then 70 percent of the American people don't support the troops.

WALLACE: Speaker Gingrich, some people compare this to the showdown that you had with President Clinton back in 1995 over the budget in which the government was shut down for 27 days.

Now, I think even you would admit that, at least politically, President Clinton whipped you in that confrontation.

The question I have is what are the dangers here, both for the president on the one hand and the new Democratic majority in Congress on the other?

GINGRICH: Well, Chris, I don't want to disappoint you, but first of all, we were the first re-elected Republican majority since 1928. I think we proved we were serious about balancing the budget, and I think that had a huge impact on spending.

But second, nobody was dying. There's a huge difference between a domestic fight over appropriations and a war in which young men and women are risking their lives.

Here we are on Easter Sunday with young men and women risking their lives for America, and it's interesting. You know, Abraham Lincoln opposed the Mexican War but voted for the money, made a very clear distinction in his speeches -- I disagree with the policy; I am going to make sure we have the money. And so he really distinguished it.

What I'm concerned about, and I'd be curious to get Senator Schumer's reaction, is what Senator Schumer just described was dramatically more reasonable than what Majority Leader Senator Reid said.

Reid said if the president vetoes this, he's going to bring up a bill to cut off all funding and require the troops to come home -- Senator Feingold's bill.

That would be a total disaster, and I would hope that Senator Schumer and others would convince him not to do that.

WALLACE: Senator Schumer?

SCHUMER: Well, I think you have to read the Reid-Feingold bill. First, it doesn't call for the pullout of all the troops.

It calls for continued funding even after March of 2008, which is a year from now, for three missions: Counterterrorism, which is what the original mission was to always be, protecting our forces, and retraining Iraqis.

And second, we are not going to leave the troops high and dry, plain and simple. Senator Reid has said that. I've said that. Every leader of the Democratic Party has said that.

But we are not going to abandon our quest to force the president basically to change his strategy. We should not be policing a civil war. We should be fighting counterterrorism.

If Al Qaida is setting up camps in Iraq, we're the first to say we should go take out those camps so what happened with Al Qaida camps in Afghanistan can't be repeated in Iraq.

That does not mean, however, that when the Sunnis and Shiites are busy fighting with each other that we should be policing it. And face the music. And everyone should. Let me make this point.

WALLACE: But we've got to bring in Speaker Gingrich here. GINGRICH: I mean, I think the -- where we disagree -- and I think you have every right to disagree over strategy. I think that's part of our American process.

SCHUMER: Thank you.

GINGRICH: If you go to General Petraeus or you go to General Abizaid, you go to General Mattis, you go to any of the senior military who have been very effective and understand this problem, what they'll say to you is that to do what you just described, they have to have the resources and they have to have the freedom to shift around and pursue.

Chasing down Al Qaida training camps requires intelligence. Intelligence requires the ability to protect people who give you information. Protecting people who give you information requires having a network across the country.

WALLACE: All right. Let's let Senator Schumer respond to that.

SCHUMER: Well, the bottom line is yes, we do need intelligence, and we have pretty good intelligence in Iraq. That does not take soldiers on Haifa Street basically as Sunnis and Shiites fight with one another.

And that's going to -- you know, whether we stay with more troops three months or three years, as soon as we leave, the Sunnis and Shiites are going to be fighting with one another.

And, Newt, you and I agree. I mean, your book and my book are similar on that strong need to fight terrorism. But that doesn't mean we go police every single civil war that's going on in the world. We don't have the resources and it's not our job to do that.

That's what we're doing in Iraq. The mission has changed without a broad discussion of policy for six years. We're doing that now in the Congress, and we're going to continue to do it.

WALLACE: Let's turn, if we can, to Speaker Pelosi's controversial trip to Syria this week.

Senator Schumer, it wasn't just Republicans who went after her. So did the mainstream media. Take a look at this, if you will. The Washington Post: Pratfall in Damascus. "Ms. Pelosi's attempt to establish a shadow presidency is not only counterproductive, it is foolish." USA Today, "Pelosi steps out of bounds on ill-conceived trip to Syria."

Senator Schumer, was Speaker Pelosi's trip a mistake?

SCHUMER: Well, let me say this. I mean, you have to make a decision when you want to talk to people you vehemently disagree with.

Let's look at North Korea for a minute as a prelude. Bill Clinton was talking to North Korea. They didn't have nuclear weapons. Colin Powell recommended that policy continue but was overruled by the president, the vice president and others.

We stopped talking to them. They now have nuclear weapons. And all of a sudden we are talking to them again and maybe talking them out of the nuclear weapons. The administration itself admitted not talking to North Korea was a mistake.

Now, Syria is in a unique position. It's a Sunni country, isolated, allied with Iran and they're in a very difficult position. It may -- I'm not saying it will, but it may be possible to wean them away from the Iranians and try and bring them back.

Now, to change your principles -- don't. Don't say, "Oh, it's OK for Syria to arm Hezbollah." I hate that they do that. Don't say that it's okay for Syria to let foreign fighters infiltrate across its border into Iraq.

But to simply talk to them -- I don't think that that necessarily causes a problem. And in some cases, it causes something good.

WALLACE: Let me bring in Speaker Gingrich.

Speaker, in fairness, when you were speaker, you made a number of foreign trips. You expressed opinions when you were overseas. So have other speakers. Is the outrage here basically political?

GINGRICH: Look, there's a huge difference, and I think Senator Schumer would agree. Every legislator should be encouraged to travel. Every legislator should go on fact-finding. Every legislator should learn about the world.

What I found amazing about Speaker Pelosi's visit to Damascus was, first of all, the exact opposite of what's happening with Governor Richardson.

Governor Richardson has been encouraged to go to North Korea by the Bush administration. Speaker Pelosi was publicly asked not to go to Damascus and rejected it.

Second, she claimed to be carrying a diplomatic message from the Israeli prime minister which the Israeli prime minister promptly disowned and said she got it wrong.

We do not want 535 secretaries of state running around the planet confusing dictators by letting them think that there are two or three or four or five Americas. I think it was a major mistake.

I wish she would just relax, say in the future she's going to go on trips in coordination with the executive branch. I think it's very important not to have two foreign policies. And I think it's very dangerous for America to do what Speaker Pelosi did.

WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, we looked at your record. And let's put up some of the instances.

During a trip to China in 1997, you told leaders there, "We will defend Taiwan, period," when U.S. policy on defending Taiwan was much vaguer than that. Just before a trip to Israel in 1998, you said, "I think it's wrong for the American secretary of state," Madeleine Albright, "to become the agent for the Palestinians."

In fact, weren't you far more provocative than Speaker Pelosi?

GINGRICH: Look, Speaker Pelosi can be very provocative in the U.S. What I said in China, by the way, was U.S. policy.

WALLACE: Well, not according to the Clinton administration, it wasn't.

GINGRICH: Well, President Clinton had just put U.S. aircraft carriers in the Straits of Taiwan. I mean, the American position has always been we do not recognize Taiwan as an independent country. We would protect Taiwan if there was a Chinese -- if the People's Republic invaded Taiwan.

And I think it was very important for the Chinese to understand that there was a unified agreement. They were being very aggressive at that time.

WALLACE: And what about saying that Madeleine Albright was an agent for the Palestinians?

GINGRICH: I think at the time she was taking steps that were very, very pro-Palestinian.

WALLACE: But you understand my point that it looks like there are two foreign policies.

GINGRICH: The one time that I said something that was too strong when I was outside the U.S. -- I didn't say anything in the U.S. That's part of the American political system.

The one time I said there was something wrong, I said publicly I'd made a mistake and I pulled back, because I do believe that you have to coordinate.

And I think that both Sandy Berger and President Clinton would tell you that we talked constantly about foreign policy and tried to work together on a whole range of issues on foreign policy.

WALLACE: Let's end this segment talking about Iran. Iran took 15 British naval personnel for two weeks, released them, paid no price for it. The U.N. Security Council did nothing. The European Union did nothing.

Senator Schumer, is there anything that the U.S. should do now, or should we just be happy that the sailors and marines were released?

SCHUMER: Well, of course we should be happy they were released, but, no, I think we should be ratcheting up the pressure on Iran economically. It's beginning to work.

We don't have the full cooperation of either the Russians or the Chinese. But I've always felt that Iran, which is a renegade nation -- we should tighten the economic noose on them. And we've done it to some extent, and it's working. It requires cooperation.

The U.S. alone -- we can't do it alone because Iran -- if they can trade with everybody else in the world, they'll get everything they need.

But by working in a more multilateral way, by trying to bring not only the Europeans, who I think are now on our side on this, but the Russians and the Chinese, you can squeeze Iran.

And according to the reports I've read, Chris, even though this economic boycott is not complete, it's having an effect.

WALLACE: But let me just bring in, because we are running out of time in this segment, Speaker Gingrich.

You know, you could argue that our allies, British allies, in this particular case were utterly feckless in this operation.

GINGRICH: Look, the West was humiliated. The British were humiliated. The Europeans were humiliated. The United Nations was humiliated.

You have an outlaw regime which began its career with the American hostage crisis in 1979. It has yet to learn that breaking the law -- and clearly, they broke international law in how they treated the British hostages, and they treated them illegally.

We should be actively seeking to replace that government by bringing every kind of non-military pressure to bear we can, to destabilize that government and help the people of Iran replace it with a moderate government.

WALLACE: Gentlemen, we have to take a break here. But when we come back, we'll turn to domestic issues, the battle over those fired U.S. attorneys, and will Congress and the president actually do some governing? Back in a moment.


WALLACE: And we're back now with Senator Charles Schumer and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Let's pick up with the controversy over the firing of those eight U.S. attorneys. Three top aides to Attorney General Gonzales have now resigned. Three top officials in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minneapolis have demoted themselves rather than work with the federal prosecutor there.

Speaker Gingrich, are you concerned about disarray in the Justice Department, and should the attorney general resign?

GINGRICH: You know, one of the weaknesses of this administration is that when it has a clear performance failure -- FEMA in New Orleans would be an example -- that it is not aggressive enough and direct enough with holding people accountable.

Let me draw this into two boxes. The president has every right to have the U.S. attorneys he wants. It is not a prerogative of the Senate or anyone else to question if he says he no longer pleases me, they're supposed to resign, period.

This is the most mishandled, artificial, self-created mess that I can remember in the years I've been active in public life. And it has to -- you know, the buck has to stop somewhere, and I'm assuming it's the attorney general and his immediate team.

And I think it is amazing that there's any doubt about the fact that they have totally mishandled this.

WALLACE: Now, you called this a performance failure.

GINGRICH: Absolutely.

WALLACE: By the attorney general?

GINGRICH: He's in charge of the department. I mean, whether it -- you know, how could you have so totally mishandled what was a slam dunk? All they had to say was the president has concluded he wants new people.

President Clinton replaced 93 U.S. attorneys in one decisive moment. Nobody jumped up and said he doesn't have the right to do it. They said it wasn't good policy, but nobody said, "Oh, this is a procedural problem." He replaced every single one. He reappointed only one of them.

WALLACE: All right. The obvious question: Should the attorney general step down?

GINGRICH: I cannot imagine how he is going to be effective for the rest of this administration. And they're now going to be involved -- thanks to our good friends in the Senate side, they're going to be involved in endless hearings, which is going to take up an immense amount of time and effort.

I think the country, in fact, would be much better served to have a new team at the Justice Department, across the board.

WALLACE: The attorney general would do a favor to the Justice Department and the president...

GINGRICH: Well, and his top assistant, who was the one who first totally misspoke, in fact, in a Senate testimony.

WALLACE: I don't know that I have anything to ask you, Senator Schumer, but let me...

SCHUMER: I think we should leave it at that.

WALLACE: But let me ask you, given the fact that the next big event is the attorney general's testimony on April 17th, is there anything he can do to save his job?

SCHUMER: Well, to my way of thinking, no. I mean, there are two separate issues here, Chris. One is whether the attorney general is capable of running this department. I've concluded he isn't. I've called for him to step down.

The recent revelations about Bernie Kerik -- and he was in charge of that vetting process -- is another reason that this attorney general should go.

And Newt has pointed it out both in his book and here -- you need competence in government. And the fact that the attorney general is the president's friend and was the president's counsel for years doesn't alone make him qualified to be attorney general.

And on issue after issue after issue he has bungled it. He has botched it. The U.S. attorneys is just the most recent example. But fundamentally, he's not up to the job and he should step down.

WALLACE: Senator Schumer, here on "Fox News Sunday" a couple of weeks ago, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, accused you of a conflict of interest in all of this. Let's take a look.


SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, R-PA.: Senator Schumer is leading the inquiry, and the day after we have testimony about Senator Domenici, he puts his name up on the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Senator, to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, why not either step down from the investigation in the Senate or step down as chair of the campaign committee?

SCHUMER: Well, you know, this is the kind of diversion that the administration and its allies always throw up when they come up with bad news, when they've made mistakes and when they've bungled it.

Our investigation -- and by the way, Senator Leahy is leading it. I'm head of the subcommittee that's involved, and certainly I've been a large part of it. But our investigation is focused alone on the executive branch, on the Justice Department, maybe the White House, if they were involved in these firings.

It is not involved with any legislator. That's up to the Ethics Committee. So there's no conflict whatsoever. And I will tell you something. If you attack the messenger, go shoot, you know, the person who's bringing the bad news, don't answer the questions -- that's what's gotten the administration in trouble over these last six years.

WALLACE: But, Senator, let me -- this is a fundraising e-mail that your Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent out. And let's put it up on the screen.

It says that Senator Domenici "has been less than forthcoming and has given his constituents every reason to question his honesty and his fitness to be a United States senator."

If I may just ask the question, sir, should you be investigating this case and then using it for political advantage?

SCHUMER: Well, let me say this. The DSCC has Web sites and puts out information -- it's not all positive -- about all 21 Republican senators who are up for re-election, just as the Republican Senate Campaign Committee puts it out against all 12 Democrats who are up for re-election.

There is no conflict whatsoever. We're not going to be diverted. We're not going to be deterred. And in fact, the gravity of this situation is shown by the fact that several Republicans have called for the attorney general to resign, that at our hearing last week with Kyle Sampson, such stalwart defenders of the administration like John Kyl and Jeff Sessions had real questions and trouble.

This isn't across the front pages of America because somebody concocted it. It's very real stuff, and we're going to get to the bottom of it.

WALLACE: Senator Schumer, let me raise another issue with you. Democrats in the House made a big deal when they came into power about passing their agenda, what they called Six for '06, in the first 100 hours of their legislative session. This week marks the first 100 days of the Democratic control of Congress and yet, largely because of inaction in the Senate, the Democratic Congress has failed to pass any of those measures and send them on to the president.

And that includes raising the minimum wage, negotiating lower drug prices, extending embryonic stem cell research.

Now that you've made your point, should Democrats stop passing resolution after resolution on Iraq and instead actually govern, one could argue, by passing your domestic agenda?

SCHUMER: Well, we're going to do both. Look, the number one...

WALLACE: But you haven't so far, sir.

SCHUMER: Well, in the next three weeks, we will be doing minimum wage, stem cell research, and drug prices. The Senate works more slowly. That's how the founding fathers set it up. We're supposed to be the so- called cooling saucer.

But you will see by the time we have the July 4th recess that the items you mentioned will be on the president's desk. I don't know if he'll veto them or not, but we will have them there. We can do both.

It is our job and mission to talk about Iraq...

WALLACE: Let me bring in...

SCHUMER: ... and change the mission, but it is also our job to pass legislation. We're doing both.

WALLACE: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Let me put in a good word for the Senate stopping things. The Democrats have passed the largest tax increase in history in their budget resolution.

The Democrats in the House have stripped workers of the right to vote in a secret ballot before being forced to join a union.

The Democrats in the House have given Samoa, with 53,000 people, the same vote in the community as a whole as the average American district with 700,000.

I would much rather have the Senate doing nothing than passing the kind of left-wing big government legislation that Speaker Pelosi is ramming through the House right now.

WALLACE: That may be the best backhanded compliment I've ever heard, Speaker Gingrich.

SCHUMER: Yes, exactly. I don't agree with his premise, but maybe I agree with his conclusion.

WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, let me conclude this with you. You caused something of a flap this week when you said that we should replace bilingual education with immersion intense courses in English -- and let's put it up, your words -- "so people can learn the common language of prosperity, not the language of living in the ghetto."

After a number of Latino groups criticized this as racist, you put up an apology on You Tube. Let's watch.


GINGRICH: [Speaks in Spanish]


WALLACE: I have to say it was interesting to watch. But in any case, why, if you want people to speak English, do you put your own biography in Spanish on your Web site?

GINGRICH: Let me be clear what I said. We have many, many languages in America. We have over 200 languages spoken in this country.

What I said was it's very important that people have intensive English education. It is very important that English be the official language of government.

And it's important that every person who comes to America have an opportunity to learn English as rapidly as possible, because English is the language of prosperity, and you have a much better chance of pursuing happiness if you learn English.

WALLACE: But the language of the ghetto?

GINGRICH: That was a reference, as a European historian, to people being trapped, and Clarence Page has a column about this this morning in the Chicago Tribune pointing out that it applies to many different groups.

I never referenced any single group. What I said was if you are trapped in an area and you cannot speak the common language of the whole country, you have a lesser life with a lower income. That's just factually true.

And I did the -- I have been studying Spanish, and I did that particular video to make sure that we weren't talking about fights between groups. We were talking about how do you bring people together to assimilate them into a common American citizenship.

WALLACE: So no apologies?

GINGRICH: I said I used the wrong word, but I wasn't attacking any group. I am specifically saying -- I think, by the way, most Latino parents and most Vietnamese parents, most Chinese-American parents -- people who come to America want their children to learn English because they want their children to some day own the company, not just work for the company.

WALLACE: I understand. But a lot of those Latino groups were very offended by what you said, sir.

GINGRICH: But if you look at their reactions both when I was on Univision and when we talked with them in a variety of other circumstances, I think people have accepted what I said, and people have said, "Now we're having a debate over do you learn English intensively or do you go through a system where you're still speaking your native tongue."

And I think in the long run, people will agree learning English intensively is the most effective future.

WALLACE: We have to leave it there.

Speaker Gingrich, Senator Schumer, thank you both for coming in and talking with us today.

Up next, our Sunday regulars on Speaker Pelosi's trip to the Middle East. What's really behind all the criticism? Our panel weighs in when we come back.



REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF.: We were very pleased with the reassurances we received from the president that he was ready to resume the peace process.


WALLACE: That was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after her controversial meeting with Syrian president Assad this week.

And it's time now for our Sunday gang, 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, as we pointed out to Speaker Gingrich, he engaged in diplomacy on foreign trips. So, notoriously, did former Democratic Speaker Jim Wright.

Brit, is what Nancy Pelosi did any different and any worse?

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS WASHINGTON MANAGING EDITOR: Well, each case is different. Those other examples you cited are evidence of the pitfalls of doing this. The speaker of the house is a very big person in American public life. I think Speaker Pelosi recognizes this but perhaps misunderstands where that large role should be played.

And she seems to have a somewhat tenuous grasp on the facts and details of policy and issues. And I think the result of that was that while she says she stated the Israeli position toward the Syrians correctly in her meeting with Assad, when she came out and stated it to the press, she got it wrong and that required a correction, and it was kind of an embarrassing moment for her and for the country, all of which could have been avoided had she taken the advice of the government supposed to be executing foreign policy, the branch of government supposed to be executing foreign policy, and not gone on the trip.

But she went anyway and this is what happened.


MARA LIASSON, NPR: Well, her going on the trip was the whole point. In other words, the Democrats might not be pursuing, as she says, a different foreign policy in terms of the substance of the issues and where they stand on the specific issues, but they believe in talking to Syria, and the administration does not.

I mean, that is the biggest difference, and that is what the trip was supposed to demonstrate, and she came out of that meeting saying that she was announcing this new willingness on the part of Syria to engage in the peace process with Israel and Israel's willingness, as if it was something new.

It turns out that Israel is only willing to do that if certain conditions are met, which Pelosi says she conveyed to Assad, but those conditions certainly aren't there yet.

So I think on that issue, she, you know, certainly misrepresented, for a moment at least, the position of the state of Israel. It sounds like she didn't depart from the administration's policy, but I think it caused some confusion and I think it hurt her, if not the administration's foreign policy.

WALLACE: Bill, let me ask you about that, because Speaker Pelosi says in her meeting with Assad, she reinforced the president's -- there is certainly the difference about talking or not talking, but she reinforced President Bush's positions on not supporting Hamas and Hezbollah, not allowing foreign fighters to cross the border into Iraq.

If she did that, what's wrong with it?

BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD: We don't know what she said in private, but we know what she said in public in Damascus after meeting with the Syrian president. She said the road to Damascus is the road to peace.

Is that an appropriate thing for an American political leader to say in the capital of a terror-sponsoring nation? The road to Damascus is the road by which arms go to terrorists in Iraq who are killing American soldiers.

The road to Damascus is the road by which arms go to Hezbollah and Hamas. The road to Damascus is not a road to peace.

So it's way beyond -- I think Brit and Mara are being much too nice to Speaker Pelosi. It's way beyond just fine, Bush doesn't think we should talk to Syria at that level. We have diplomatic relations with Syria.

Nancy Pelosi wanted to go there. What she said publicly in Syria is really a disgraceful kowtow to a terror-sponsoring dictator.

WALLACE: Now, before you hammer back at Bill, let me just say it's not just Bill Kristol who is hammering Pelosi. Washington Post said that she's trying to establish a shadow presidency. USA Today said that she's undermining American policy.

JUAN WILLIAMS, NPR: Well, undermining what policy? We don't talk to them. We do have diplomatic relations, but we don't engage Syria. We don't engage Assad in any kind of realistic discussion.

I think there's lots of anger in the world community toward Assad involving the assassination of the Lebanese leader, no doubt supporting Hezbollah and supporting insurgents going into Iraq.

Why we decide that we can effectively silence these people or deal with them by isolating them, I don't know, because obviously it's not working. So the idea is you go in there and you engage people in some realistic fashion.

HUME: There seems to be a failure on Juan's part, as well as on the speaker's part, to recognize that there is some history here.

And throughout much of the first term, President Bush's first term, there were assiduous efforts to engage Israel -- I mean to engage Syria. They failed. They got nowhere.

There's a long history of trips, and delegations, and secretaries of state and assistant secretaries of state going to Assad and trying to get something out of him. They've all failed.

So the policy of engagement has been tried. It didn't work. And now the administration is trying isolation as a counterpoint to that, as something different.

Along comes Nancy Pelosi, who decides well, she doesn't like that idea. She's going to go and, in effect, contradict the administration's policy by going and saying glowing things about the road to peace in Damascus and all of that. So that's the background and that's the history here.

WILLIAMS: You make it out as if Nancy Pelosi is a naif. She just wandered in, you know, like some Holly Golightly and involved herself in serious matters of state.

In fact, the Iraq Study Group has said it is a mistake to isolate Syria at this point. In fact, Frank Wolf, a loyal Republican, led a delegation over there. I don't understand it. Why would you insist on repeating failure, which is what this administration's policy has done?

WALLACE: Well, let's move on to Iran, because I really do want to talk about that.

The Iranians released 15 naval British personnel this week, Mara, after holding them for two weeks. What does this episode tell us, one, about the political landscape inside Iran, and two, about the West's ability to deal effectively with the regime in Tehran?

LIASSON: Well, I think it suggests to the West that it's going to be a lot harder to deal with the regime in Iran because they are kind of erratic and they, you know, often engage in bad behavior.

Look, I think what it says about what's happening inside Iran is that there are different factions and that they're often at war with each other. And clearly, the people who are with the revolutionary guards are quite aggressive and feel that this is the best way to approach the West.

Now, it's very possible that this was a good thing to do domestically for the leader of Iran, Ahmadinejad, because he got to stick his thumb in the eye of the West, and he got to claim that he got an apology, which, of course, the British say they didn't give him.

But I don't think that it helped Iran on the bigger picture in terms of the ongoing negotiations or confrontation about their nuclear program.

WALLACE: Bill, I mean, the thing that really struck me most -- and of course, we're all happy that the sailors and marines were released.

But here was Britain, after what seems to have been a clear act of just, you know, outlaw behavior -- they went to the U.N. They got a press release. They went to the European Union. They got nothing.

I mean, what message does that send to the Iranians?

KRISTOL: Well, in the, you know, once proud royal navy and royal marines -- their soldiers, you know, gratefully shook Ahmadinejad's hand, praised him, took his goody bags, went home. And now the British ministry of defense has said, "Fine, you can sell your stories."

They waived the normal military rules that you can't make money selling stories about what happens while you're in the military, while you're still in the military, And they're all selling their stories to British tabloids for hundreds of thousands of pounds.

It's a terrible sign of weakness on the part of Britain. It's a real humiliation for the British. And of course, the Europeans didn't stand by them either.

And it sent the signal to the worst forces in Iran to the degree there are splits in the Iranian government. It has strengthened the worst forces in Iran by making them think they can push the West around.

We came closer to war with Iran this week, because the only way to avoid war is to have the Iranians believe the West is tough enough to really threaten them with war and to tighten the economic pressure.

After the Germans refused to even help the British with any economic pressure, after the British refused now to do anything, after we've been very passive, we're closer to war with Iran if -- either war or an Iran with nuclear weapons.

WILLIAMS: Well, what was the alternative? To go in and strike them while the hostages were there?


WILLIAMS: See, I think that's an overreaction. I think that would have then prompted war. I don't think we want war.

KRISTOL: How about sanctions? How about not giving them trade credits while the hostages are there?

WILLIAMS: Absolutely. I think that's...

KRISTOL: How about (inaudible) the Iranian embassy out of London? How about not having private negotiations with an Iranian negotiator when they're illegally holding your hostages and breaking the Geneva Convention?

WILLIAMS: Well, that's up to the British. But you know, we're Americans. Let's talk about the American response. I don't want to provoke a war, but I agree with you. You need tough sanctions against an outlaw regime.

The problem is, internally for the moment, Ahmadinejad has strengthened himself with this action, and that's obviously not in our best interest.

WALLACE: Bill and Juan agree. I think we're going to end this segment on that happy note on this Easter Sunday.

We're going to take a quick break here, but coming up, our weekly You Decide '08 political round-up. The first quarter fundraising numbers are in. What have they done to the race for the White House? More with the panel when we return.


WALLACE: On this day in 1986, Clint Eastwood was voted mayor of Carmel, California. After keeping promises to build a library and tourist parking, Eastwood returned to being a full-time actor after his two-year term.

Stay tuned for more panel and our Power Player of the Week.



SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.: We had thousands of people all across the country who were donating $25 and $10 because they felt a sense that this is an opportunity, that we're in this moment in time where we've got this window where we might be able to take our country back.


WALLACE: That was Illinois Senator Barack Obama, who may have been the biggest winner this week as the fundraising totals for the first quarter were announced. And I know the panel wants to chew over this.

So let's talk about the Democrats first, and take a look. Senator Clinton raised $26 million. Senator Obama raised $25 million. And former Senator Edwards raised $14 million.

Brit, what does this tell us about the race for the Democratic nomination?

HUME: Well, they all have enough money to keep going, so that this isn't, you know, devastating to anybody.

Obama, though, is the one who made all the news for two reasons. One is the amount of money he raised, nearly as much as Senator Clinton, and the kind of money he raised -- very large base of donors, twice as large a number of contributors as Senator Clinton had, which probably means that most of those donors gave in sufficiently small quantities that he can go back to them again. That's a huge advantage.

So it looks like he's going to have all the money he needs and will be able to match anything that she spends all the way through. And it's a sign of support as well because of the numbers.

WALLACE: Let me ask you about a different angle of that, Mara. $25 million, 100,000 donors, twice as many as Clinton -- does that indicate to you at all that there may be some Clinton fatigue among Democrats?

LIASSON: Well, that's been the question. I mean, she has a very formidable fundraising network and a huge list, but it's old. And until we get the detailed numbers from her, we don't know how many of these donors are maxed out. We don't know how much of her money was given for the primary or given for the general.

The fact that 90 percent of his donations were in increments of $100 or less -- that tells you that they have a very long way to go before they're maxed out at the $4,600 for the primary and general that the law allows them to give.

The suspicion is that hers are much closer to being maxed out. And there are anecdotes out there of people who have given to the Clintons since 1992 over and over again. They're facing a lot of pressure from both Hillary and Bill to donate again, and there is some fatigue.

But look, let's not count her out. She has $10 million more to add to her coffers from her Senate campaign.

And also, just one other point about this field. The amount of money that the top three Democrats got is more than what the top three Republicans got, and that tells you a little bit about the excitement the Democrats have for their field.

WALLACE: Now let's talk about the Republicans, Bill Kristol, and let's put that up on the screen. Former Governor Romney led the pack with $21 million; Rudy Giuliani, $15 million; and Senator McCain with $12.5 million.

Bill, I think the big surprise here has to be McCain. And the question is how much trouble is he in.

KRISTOL: He's in some trouble. He got off to a slow start in fundraising. He hates fundraising. Romney is extremely good at it and deserves credit for doing very well at it.

They're all not going anywhere, though, and it remains a serious race, and McCain is going to give a major speech on Iraq, and then other speeches, and finally announce his candidacy formally at the end of this month.

So all three remain in the race, along with Fred Thompson and Newt Gingrich. I mean, the big story, I think, on both sides is the major candidates did well enough to be fine. They're going to be competitive.

No minor candidate surprise, and it does look like a three-way race on the Democratic side and four- or five-way race on the Republican side.

WALLACE: Juan, what strikes you about the Republican fundraising totals?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think you can't help but be struck by the success Mitt Romney had.

And yet it's a very slim base, kind of the opposite of what we saw with Obama -- very narrow, lots of money coming from his fellow Mormons and from some business interests, some of them tied to Massachusetts where he was governor. But that's very limited. And he's not showing at all in the polls.

With regard to McCain, I'm really surprised. I'm a big admirer of Senator McCain, his war record and the like, but he just seems to have -- I don't know, like a deflated balloon in this campaign -- just not there, not there in the fundraising, not there on the campaign trail.

Now he says he's going to reignite his fervor by giving a major speech in support of the war on Iraq? I think he's going down the wrong path. I don't understand it.

People prize him for his independence, and here he is now tying his tail to what looks to me like what's dragging down the Republican Party.

HUME: I disagree with you, Juan. I think that what McCain is doing now may be the most courageous thing he's done in either of his presidential races.

The war is unpopular. The surge of troops is under attack on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. The public doesn't like it, at least not yet. And John McCain is the most conspicuously in favor of it of any of the Republican candidates.

That, in my view, is a sign of -- that is courage, and that is going against the tide, and it will be interesting to see whether the mainstream media, which fell so in love with him when he seemed to be the maverick among Republicans back in 2000, changes its tune now where I think the mainstream media has, in effect, turned against him.

WALLACE: Let's go back to Romney, who we agree was the big winner, obviously, on the Republican side. He's had some problems in this first quarter, not on the money side, on the issues side, where he's gotten hammered for a number of -- he would say evolutions on issues involving social policy.

He got into another flap this week when he made this statement. Take a look.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I purchased a gun when I was a young man. I've been a hunter pretty much all my life.


WALLACE: But the Romney campaign later admitted that this lifelong hunter had, in fact, been on only two hunting trips in his life.

Romney fired back, however. He emphasized at the end of the week -- and, Bill, I'm saying this -- directing it to you because I know you love this story -- that, in fact, he, as a kid, used to shoot lots of rabbits, which I think you are particularly fond of on Easter Sunday.

KRISTOL: Yes. I don't know. The Romney campaign ended the week by emphasizing that he didn't shoot big game, he only shot bunny rabbits, you know, which maybe isn't the best story to have out there over the weekend. It's a little thing.

I mean, Romney had a very good quarter in fundraising, and didn't do much in the polls, and did trip himself up with various claims that turned out not quite to be true, as in this case -- I mean, unnecessary claims, and really odd, since he's an impressive man in so many other ways.

LIASSON: It's hard to reinvent yourself. I mean, it's hard.

KRISTOL: Well, but hunting has nothing to do with reinventing himself.

LIASSON: No, but he wants to show that he's a staunch advocate of the Second Amendment. He joined the NRA very recently. And he's gotten tripped up.

I think what's interesting is at the same time he was getting all bollixed up about how many bunny rabbits he's shot, you have got Rudy Giuliani, who is becoming more and more himself, actually, announcing that he's still for publicly funded abortions, which he's always been for, and his view of strict constructionist judges does not seem to be for him code for overturning Roe v. Wade.

KRISTOL: Rudy doesn't shoot bunny rabbits. Rudy personally strangles bunny rabbits. Rudy is a tough guy.

WALLACE: Let me put this up, because we have this clip from Rudy Giuliani this week. Let's run it.


RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm against abortion. I hate it. I wish there never was an abortion, and I would counsel a woman to have an adoption instead of an abortion, but ultimately I believe it's an individual right.


WALLACE: Juan, I must say I was surprised by that, because it seemed to me that Giuliani had kind of finessed the issue by saying, "Well, you know, I believe what I believe, but I'm going to appoint strict constructionists to the court."

This week, he started talking about abortion again as a constitutional right.

WILLIAMS: Well, and I think he's honest and says, "You know, we might have differences here, but let's look at common ground," as compared to Romney.

Romney is a guy -- and I pick up on what Mara was saying. Romney's a guy who was tough as governor of Massachusetts on assault weapons, and his joining the NRA is a recent move.

This is all, it seems to me, a rush over to the right for the primary. And when it comes to abortion, similarly, it's Romney who said, you know, he supported a woman's right to choose, but now he's saying, "Oh, no, can't do it," he's going to overturn Roe if he becomes president.

WALLACE: Brit, you get the final word on this.

HUME: Well, look. Giuliani on abortion -- I don't think there's anything particularly novel about what he said there. I think that's part of the same formulation he's used any number of times.

It is not incompatible in any sense with the idea of appointing strict constructionist judges. And he was asked about that, of course, and did that mean a judge who would overturn Roe vs. Wade.

He said, "Well, you wouldn't know," and that independent-minded judges might respect the doctrine of stare decisis, which is that those opinions should be left standing.

WALLACE: We've got to go. Thank you, panel. See you next week.

For more visit the FOX News Sunday web page.

Email Friend | Print | RSS | Add to | Add to Digg
Sponsored Links