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Special Report Roundtable - May 25

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Governor Romney and Senator McCain clearly believe that the course that we're on in Iraq is working. I do not.

And if there was ever a reflection of that it's the fact that Senator McCain required a flak jacket, 10 armored Humvees, and two Apache attack helicopters, and 100 soldiers with rifles by his side, so he could stroll through the market in Baghdad a just few weeks ago, for a photo-op. That's the truth in Iraq.


BAIER: Well, that was Senator Barack Obama firing back after Senator John McCain, Republican, fired at both Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton for their votes on the war supplemental.

Here's what McCain said in a statement, quote, "This vote may win favor with MoveOn and the liberal primary voters, but it's the equivalent of waving a white flag to al Qaeda."

And now some analytical observations from Fred Barnes, executive editor of "The Weekly Standard", Juan Williams, senior correspondent of National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.

So Obama and Clinton, are they winners with this vote -- after this vote on the Iraq war supplemental, voting no?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think it helps them if either of them had gone the other way they would have been attacked by the left, and by the other. And after all, they're out to win the primary right now and the nomination of their party.

I think that it was damage control. It would have hurt them had they not. Is it going to hurt them in the general election? I think not. Because whatever happened now will probably not be remembered a year and a half from now.

And, secondly, what happened now this vote will be overshadowed by the vote that will come in September when the president asks for a second supplemental, in which a lot of Republicans are wary about. If the news out of Iraq is not good, the president will lose a lot of Republicans.

And you could have a situation under which they could actually have a two-thirds majority in either house, to override the president. And basically stop the war. So that would be a significant vote because it would have real effects in the real world.

The vote today was symbolic, a vote -- the same vote in November for Clinton or Obama could actually help stop the war and cause essentially a defeat, which would have dramatic effects a year later on November `08.

JUAN WILLIAMS, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, NPR: I believe that Mrs. Clinton said she would have voted differently if she thought that the bill had a chance, but she voted this way, I guess, just as a matter of making a statement. And I think that's what Obama did.

And, now, it's interesting, John Edwards is on the outside throwing rocks and saying basically, oh, if you really believe that this war should end, how dare you fund this war? And anybody has to vote no, and so people like Joe Biden, and Joe Biden did vote yes, And Joe Biden with all of his experience on Senate Foreign Relations I think positions himself here as a responsible moderate and someone who has lots of foreign policy experience, and is therefore different than the other candidates.

And so, in a way, what we're starting to see here is the potential for people to separate themselves out. Edwards, obviously is way over on the left in this discussion. He's the one who said that as far as he's concerned the war on terror is now just a bumper sticker.

BAIER: Senator Clinton said today that there were parts of that bill that she liked. I mean, she voted against the minimum wage hike.

FRED BARNES, "WEEKLY STANDARD": She liked the pork, particularly.

But, look, I think when you have a war this is a time that calls for courage by our political leaders. Now what would be courage in this case? Political courage is when you go against -- when you go against your electorate. And now the electorate right now, for Obama and Hillary Clinton is these at-large bodies of Democratic activists, represented by and all these other lefty groups and antiwar groups. That is the electorate for them now, because that group will have such a large influence in picking the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee.

So -- now wait at minute though. So, what did Obama and Hillary do? I think the courageous step would have been to go against that electorate and do what they promised to do in the first place, which is was vote to fund the troops. Instead they caved, into that group. And the one thing this was not was an act of courage on their parts. Quite the opposite.

BAIER: And we've said it for weeks, Charles, but the situation on the ground will determine what happens going forward. Let's say, miraculously, things turn around. Are Obama and Clinton on the outside looking in?

KRAUTHAMMER: Within their party, no. Because no one will believe it. Democrats won't believe anything that the administration says about the war. They have a separate reality. But would it effect -- if you get Petraeus to say that we are making progress -- and we are today in Anbar against Al Qaeda -- and if the Democrats vote to stop the war essentially before it's completed; and it has terrible effects as it probably would, that would hurt them in the general election. But that's a big "if," meaning if there's dramatic success in the surge, it's hard to see how you could see that by September.

WILLIAMS: I think in the calculus, though, I think the Democrats, the good news for the Democrats in this whole interaction is, they can say, you know what, the president, funded the troops, we support the troops. The conduct of the war, again, is on the president's desk. It's his responsibility. It's the Republicans' responsibility going forward towards 2008. I think that's the good news for the Democrats. They clearly do not have their fingerprints now on what goes forward.

BAIER: We'll leave it there. Up next, the Senate's top Republican says he's cautiously optimistic that the immigration bill will survive, but what do these FOX all-stars think? More on that after the break. Stay with us.



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I think that the far right and the far left don't like the bill. And I think that's pretty obvious from the phone calls that all of us are getting. But the surveys also indicate, as you suggest, that Americans are not satisfied with the status quo.


BAIER: OK, I think that it was supposed to continue there but there you heard Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who went on to say that he was cautiously optimistic about the chances for an immigration bill.

We're back with our panel.

So what about it? What are the chances, Fred?

BARNES: I think that they're better than 50/50 that it will pass the Senate. And the House, they're way below 50/50 over there. And I know that a White House official went to a leader in -- a House Republican leader and asked how many Republicans might you be able to round up to vote for a bill like the one that's in the Senate. And he said somewhere south of 20. That's not many. You know, that's out of over 200 Republican members.

And you know there's going to be a bunch of Democratic members who will oppose it. And the problem in the House, what you had in the Senate, and what gives it a chance of passing is the top leaders, and the most talented people in the Senate, are behind it, starting with Mitch McConnell, and Teddy Kennedy among the Democrats, Jon Kyl among the Republicans.

The smartest people, the most respected ones, and they put together a bill, which looks like it's going to get through. You don't have a Teddy Kennedy among the Democrats in the House. You don't have that kind of leadership. And then you have to guess today that the bill will die there.

BAIER: Jon Kyl, the Republican from Arizona, yesterday said that he has learned some new words from his constituents since supporting this bill.

Juan, we talk about the conservative pushback, but there's a big pushback on the Left, too.

WILLIAMS: The left, the pushback on the Left has come labor and some of the church groups; Some of the immigration groups that have tried to provide, you know, comfort and support for illegal immigrants in the country so far, especially the Catholic Church.

But I think that the unions really got beat back. They wanted to do away with the guest worker program and this week the guest worker program, although reduced was passed. So, that is now passed part of the deal. And I think that was a really -- a milestone in terms of the progress in the Senate. I think that's why it's likely to succeed in the Senate now.

And the push on the Left has to do with family unification, as opposed to this measuring of skills; people's education and skill level to get into the country and saying, wait a minute, what about the families, cousins, daughters and children who are over the age of 18 -- adult children?

The problem, I think, is more and more in the House as we have been discussing. And I suspect that once it gets to the House, the White House business interests come into much larger -- much stronger view than they have been so far.

BAIER: You know, the question for the Right, Charles, has been what about the border? Is it going to actually work? Will these triggers work? And they're not buying it so far.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, I'm not. And I've been skeptical about this for a long time. And I think it really is the key. When you look at the public opinion in the polls and you ask people, what is the real problem with immigration? It's not the lack of legalization, about a quarter say that's the most important issue. And three-quarters say the most important issue is the lack of control of the borders. And I think that really is where it has to start.

I would accept a lot of the provisions in the bill, including the legalization, and I like the guest worker program, but there's a lot of people who don't believe that these triggers. We've heard them over and over again. And unless you get the president and others keep giving people confidence that it's going to have an affect, I think it's going to fail.

And I agree with my colleagues here, I think that it passes the Senate, but it dies in the House.

BAIER: Quickly, Fred, Nancy Pelosi said she wanted 70 Republicans, the White House to deliver those. Will they deliver them?

BARNES: No. Hey, that isn't exactly leadership. No, they can't get anywhere near 70 Republicans. And, look, if she wants a bill, she's the House speaker, what is she calling on Republicans? She has 230 plus Democrats and it only takes 218 to pass a bill. Come on, where is her leadership? It's not there.

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