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Special Report Roundtable - June 20

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NYC: I think they are wasting their time. I'm not a candidate, so they should get down to polling on people who are candidates. And we have a lot of them in this country. We even have two people from New York who are candidates for President of the United State. I'm not sure the state needs a third.


HUME: But Mike Bloomberg never quite said that he would not run for president. And, of course, he was speaking, of course, there about the Clinton and Giuliani campaigns being the other two from New York.

Some thoughts on Mike Bloomberg and his decision to leave the Republican Party from Mort Kondracke, executive editor of "Roll Call," Mara Liasson, national political correspondent, National Public Radio, and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.

Well, what to make of Mike Bloomberg? He is a very self confident guy. He's popular, his popularity ratings in the city of New York are higher than Giuliani's were, even though Giuliani is thought to have more to do with turning New York around. Bloomberg has kind of continued, I guess, in that spirit, or in that mold.

Think he wants to be president, Mort?

MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: Well, I think he is preparing the way, and I think that leaving the Republican Party was a step towards an independent candidacy.

But I don't think he runs if the candidates are Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani. I think he runs if Hillary Clinton goes away to the left, or if John Edwards, lefty populist, gets the nomination of the Democratic Party, and, say, the newly mint right winger Mitt Romney becomes the Republican nominee, and you have a lot of space in the middle.

And you have a lot of people who are moderates--47 percent of electorate claim to be moderate--leaving a lot of room, there, for people who were dissatisfied with a left wing Democrat and right wing Republican, and he comes up and doesn't run strictly as and anti-gun, pro-gay, pro- abortion candidate--

HUME: All of which he is,

KONDRACKE: All of which he is, but runs as a pragmatic problem solvers who will address the big issues that face the country.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. His image is of above partisan politics. He was a Democrat, he only became a republican so he could run. He is a problem solvers.

Now, I agree with Mort, third party candidates only prosper--they never win--but they only prosper if there is a void that they fill. And we don't know if there is going to be a void until after February 5th. I do think that he has--February 5th of next year, when we, presumably, will have nominees.

He does have the first and most important criteria for a third party candidate, however, which is he has billions and billions of dollars, and that's what it would take.

But I think this is all premature. It doesn't matter how he polls now, it only matters how he polls against two real nominees, and we don't know who those are yet.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, the poll numbers are low because he is really unknown.

HUME: Now that they've come up, let's take a look at them.

The latest FOX News national poll that included him shows that he is running at seven, and that's a big up-tick from six, I guess you could say that's 16 percent up, I don't know.

And as far as people's opinion of him, those that have an opinion of him, as you can see here, it's favorable by 23 to 14 over unfavorable. But can't say it never hurt heard of him, it accounts for 62 percent of the public.

So Charles, go ahead.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, you got to ask yourself what exactly he has he done? It was Giuliani who took the city in chaos, in crime, and turned it around. He saved it on 9/11. What Bloomberg has done is to govern for a few years and not screw it up.

That's as a good thing to do, but it's hardly reason to vote for him for the presidency. The reason he is running is because of one reason, he's very rich. And because of our insane campaign laws, everybody who isn't very, very rich has to go around spending 80 percent of their time on hands and knees, begging for money in very small increments, as allowed by the law, but if you are a plutocrat, like him, you don't have to do that. He could have an instant campaign overnight, and he could run without having to waste all that time with the fundraising.

But, you know, who is he going to appeal to? He says he was a Republican. He wasn't really. That was like a Liberian tanker, it doesn't go to Liberia, it doesn't come from Liberia, or owned by Liberians. He never was a Republican. He's a Democrat. And if he runs, I think he will hurt the Democrats.

HUME: Really?


HUME: A lot of people think it will hurt the Republicans.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, they are wrong and I'm right.

HUME: OK, I want to know what every else thinks on that score.

LIASSON: Well, it depends on who the democrat--as Mort said, if the democrat is viewed as too far to the left for the taste of moderate voters, then he hurts the Democrats.

HUME: Well, the democrat is likely to be an anti-war liberal who will probably campaign without any--

LIASSON: Well, Bloomberg is also anti-war. It's just that Bloomberg- -

HUME: So that would argue that what? He takes votes from the--

LIASSON: I think that he would take votes from a Republican candidate who was not moderate on social issues, that's what he offers as an alternative.

He also offers a kind of nonpartisan potentially non-divisive figure. But I don't think that he fits that bill very well--partially because nobody knows him, and also--

HUME: So you think it is unknowable at this point?

LIASSON: I thin it is just unknowable.

HUME: What do you think, Mort?

KONDRACKE: Well, again, he supported Joe Lieberman for the Senate, so he is not that anti-war. And I believe at the time, when everybody was talking about the surge, he was in favor of Bush's surge.

HUME: Where is he now?

KONDRACKE: I'm not exactly sure. I mean that is one of the things--

HUME: He hasn't updated his views?

KONDRACKE: Well, I have looked through everything that he has said lately, and I did not find it.

But as to what he has done in New York, I mean, he has taken on the teachers unions in New York, which is no small feat, and, you know, trying to eliminate teacher tenure, and so on, while increasing teacher salaries. That is something.

HUME: Next up with the panel, for the second type, the President has vetoed federal funds for embryonic stem-cell research. More on that next.



BUSH: I am vetoing the bill that Congress has sent.


BUSH: Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical. And it is not the only option before us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just one example of how the President puts ideology before science, politics before the needs of our families.


HUME: Senator Clinton's reaction was typical of many Democrats who felt that the President is simply pandering to his Republican, or to his conservative base by vetoing a measure that would provide federal funding for stem-cell research.

There is no ban, by the way, although it is often said that there is, on stem cell research, even embryonic stem cell research, there is simply a ban on federal funding thereof. And it seems little chance that the veto will be overridden, and so that ban on federal funding of that kind of research continues.

But what about the issue itself, and where does it go? Mort, to what degree has the science changed, and is the science changing in this area in terms of the possibilities that other kind of research could bring some of the same benefits?

KONDRACKE: Well, there are encouraging developments on the adult stem cell front that is derived from non-embryonic sources, including the latest one--there is a report that in animals, skin tissue has been brought back to its original embryonic, almost, state, and can be so-called pluripotent and develop any kind of tissue in the body.

And that is largely what the president in this Executive Order that he signed today was promoting, although not with any more money.

But, the director of the National Institute of Health said in Congressional testimony that science and the national interest suggests that both embryonic and adult stem cells should get equal funding. But this administration has devoted about 20 times as much funding to adult as to embryonic--

HUME: Because of what the president sees as a moral issue?

KONDRACKE: Yes. And the president had an alternative to doing what he did today, and that was to change the deadlines for, and allow more embryonic stem cell research to go forward. And it is complicated, but I can explain it later.

HUME: All right, let's not go there. Charles, I'm going to let you let you have a crack at this since this is an issue that you care about.

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, the president is serious about the moral objection he has, and that is that you don't destroy human embryos to produce stem cells. He has not banned all research on it or even federal assistance, he banned only the kind that actively destroys embryos. He allowed all the existing lines the fed had existed before his policy was announced in April of 2001. So there is a research supported by the federal government.

Look, I happen to disagree with the president. I would have allowed what the bill in the House and the Senate would have wanted, which was the use of discarded embryos from fertility clinics. However, I respect the president's position, unlike the Democrats, who attack it as if it is totally cynical.

Mrs. Clinton said today that "When I am president, I will lift the ban on stem-cell research." As you indicated there is no ban. In fact under her husband, there was a ban.

But Bush is the first president who actually funded embryonic stem- cell research. But he said only of the type which is morally defensible, and not other types.

LIASSON: In terms of the politics of this issue, I would say that at one point it was a big burning issue, it might have played a role in the Missouri Senate race, which went to the Democrats, but I think that now it has been overshadowed by a lot of other issues. Still very important to the Christian right, but it is possible science will make this issue moot, and it's also possible that it is just--there is not enough time in the president's term.

For more visit the FOX News Special Report web page.

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