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Special Report Roundtable - Sep. 13

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


RUDY GIULIANI, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And we are going to ask the New York Times to allow us, tomorrow, to prints an ad that will obviously take the opposite view. We believe, unlike Hillary Clinton, that General Petraeus is telling the truth.

SEN HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: Both the General and the Ambassador were there implementing the president's policy. And I think we should remain focused on this president. And, frankly, I'm getting enough Republican support to force the president to change course.


HUME: We are sorry about the slightly dodgy quality of the Hillary Clinton tape there. That was done from an online interview done by Charlie Rose in which she was asked about the ad and declined, along with the other Democratic contenders, to condemn the now famous ad, which all of you have seen and which ran earlier this week on in The New York Times.

We learn also, now, from our colleagues at New York Post that says it paid $65,000. The New York Times says such an ad cost usually $181,000. The Times will not comment on what this steep discount is all about, saying, however, there is no political bias involved.

Some thoughts on all this now from Bill Sammon, Senior White House Correspondent for the Washington Examiner, Mara Liasson, National Political Correspondent for National Public Radio, and Mort Kondracke, the Executive Editor of Roll Call, FOX News contributors all.

This thing, this ad--I thought when it first came out that we might hear about it for a day or two. We're coming up on Friday tomorrow and it is still ricocheting around out there. What is going on here? Mara, what do you think?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is one of those ads, not unlike the ad that ran against Max Cleland, where his opponent showed a picture--

HUME: He was the Democratic Senator--

LIASSON: --the Democratic Senator from Georgia who was running for reelection, and there was an ad that showed his picture next to Usama bin- Laden picture. And the Democrats, and I think rightly so, were offended, and demanded retractions, and really roundly condemned it, and it was one of the most famous ads of that cycle.

I guess this ad is getting to be the same, way and I think it is very, very similar. It says that General Petraeus betrayed the country. It calls him "General Betray Us."

HUME: The Cleland ad didn't say that.

LIASSON: No, the Cleland ad didn't say that. But I am saying that it is the kind of thing when you are casting aspersion on someone's patriotism, either linking them to terrorists or saying that they betrayed the country.

And, with all due respect to Charlie Rose who asked the question and got the non-answer from Senator Clinton, he didn't really ask "Do you condemn this ad?" He asked a very general question "What do you think of it?" or "Do you think it is appropriate."

All of the candidates seem to be saying that they certainly don't think General Petraeus betrayed the country. But they have not actually been pressed, yet, at least as far as I have seen, on whether they would condemn the ad.

BILL SAMMON, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: The Republican candidates have been pressing them. You saw John McCain, Rudy Giuliani--

But if you are saying that publicly, do you denounce the ad, I think pressure is building on these Democratic candidates to one way or another, either embrace it or denounce it, and the problem is they can't do either. Because if they embrace the ad, they will be denounced by moderates, and, basically, most Americans, who actually think Petraeus is a standup guy.

And if they go the other way they will alienate their liberal base. They don't want--

HUME: How much of their liberal base really approves of what

SAMMON: is an increasingly influential power center within the Democratic part. The Democratic Party has been moving leftward as you know, and

You know, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and these folks actually have regular conference calls with the so-called net roots people, people like from who run the liberal blogs, and they are asserting greater influence on the Democratic Party.

So this is a real pickle for Hillary and these others because they can't afford to alienate the liberals, but then again can't afford to alienate the Democrats. They are simply hoping it is going to go away, and it is not going to go away.

LIASSON: Lucky for them it is happening in a primary and not a general.

KONDRACKE: Right. Nancy Pelosi said that she wished they had not used that kind of language. And there is a way they can all denounce the content of ad without denouncing

But, look, this was Hillary Clinton's opportunity--

SAMMON: Why don't they do it?

KONDRACKE: Because they don't want to offend

HUME: You just said they could do it without attacking

KONDRACKE: They can, but they haven't yet. And I suspect that if the pressure builds they will.

The John McCain blast at Hillary Clinton today was pretty devastating, that if you can't--if you are not tough enough to denounce this scurrilous kind of ad, then you are not tough enough to be president. That's a pretty damming indictment of her.

This was her opportunity for a sister soldier moment. When her husband, during the 1992 campaign, there was a black hip-hop artist who advocated killing white cops, and it became a national uproar. And Bill Clinton denounced her. Of course, Bill Clinton already had the nomination by that time.

LIASSON: That was totally different. It was, for all intense and purposes, the general election when he did that. This is a primary. I think this kind of thing will probably be revived by the Republicans after there is a Democratic nominee, and we will see what they say then.

SAMMON: But it has a bigger impact because this was supposed to be the week when Democrats triumphantly put an end the war. And they were thinking helper going to have the Status report from Petraeus and Crocker, and they were going to muster the votes, and September was going to be the time when they were going to make their move.

And it is deflated. It is falling apart. The Democrats--

HUME: But how much of that is because of Petraeus' testimony, and how much is because of this ad?

SAMMON: The ad is one element in distracting attention away from Bush's policy. It is giving political cover to the Republicans, because the Republicans can spend the week talking about this outrageous ad, and it sucks out the oxygen where you can't talk that much about the actual merits of Bush's policy, which is to perpetuate his Iraq policy--

KONDRACKE: I disagree with that.

Look, this was the Petraeus week, and it will be Bush week when we hear the speech tonight. But I think that Petraeus and the successes that Petraeus has had in Iraq buy Bush a lot of time, and buy him time in the next year to produce more successes or not produce more successes.

If he doesn't produce more successes then, as we get near the 2008 elections, then you will have more Republicans flaking off. But so far they are holding firm.

LIASSON: Yes. I think what the Petraeus testimony did is it changed the debate to how fast do you want to withdraw troops and what criteria do you want to use? And it has really shifted it away from this idea that we should withdraw right now.

HUME: All right, we are going to move on now--not dot org, however.

This question, should the president choose former Solicitor General Ted Olsen for the Attorney General? Senate Democrats say they won't have him. Stay tuned.


SEN. TRENT LOTT, (R) MISSISSIPPI: I'm willing to make a stand for Ted Olson. I still have the attitude presidents should pick their attorneys general and their judges. And if they met basic requirements, they should be confirmed.

HUME: Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid, the Majority Leader, says that he won't have Ted Olson. He wouldn't allow him to come to a vote if he were nominated to be Attorney General.

So who is Ted Olson? Well, he was the president's lawyer in the Supreme Court when the case of Bush versus core back in 2000. He was later named Solicitor General of the United States, which is the president lawyer in the Supreme Court, and, indeed, the government's lawyer in the Supreme Court.

He is a man who enjoys a lot of support and a lot of friendship here in Washington, but he is controversial for the reasons mentioned. And Harry Reid says he won't let it come to a vote.

So what is the president to do? Does this mean the president really needs to move on and nominate somebody else?

KONDRACKE: Well, it depends on whether the president wants to have a big fight with the Democrats, and probably not get his nominee, in which case he'll nominate Ted Olson. If he wants to get a nominee through then he would nominate Orrin Hatch, the Senator from Utah, who, presumably, could be confirmed in a minute by his colleagues.

LIASSON: Or a handful of other people.

KONDRACKE: Yes. Michael McCassy(ph), who is a former federal judge in New York, has received high marks from Chuck Schumer, and he could, presumably, get through as well.

LIASSON: I don't see the point of nominating someone who the Senate Majority Leader has said is not going to get through. Sometimes picking fights is a good idea--it rallies your base, it shows that you are not going to back down, but I don't really understand in the scheme of things why this is the fight--

HUME: What do you think, Bill?

SAMMON: Democrats are the ones who are picking a fight preemptively, saying we are going to block this guy. Ted Olson is a brilliant constitutional lawyer. The reason they don't like him is because he successfully argued Bush verse Gore, and they are bitter about that.

Now Ted Olson was married to Barbara Olson, who died in the 9/11 plane crash into the Pentagon, and she was--

HUME: She was a--

SAMMON: She was a partisan. She had just written a book against Hillary Clinton.

But I think that is the reason they don't like him, because they are both--they are partisans, but he is a brilliant constitutional lawyer, and he is eminently qualified.

LIASSON: He is qualified, he is brilliant. But he is more than just a lawyer in Bush versus Gore. He was involved in plenty of partisan activities against the Clintons. And I think that there is so much enmity to him on the part of Senate--

HUME: Do you get the sense that the president won't do it?

KONDRACKE: I don't know what the president wants in this case. I have no idea what he wants. If he wants a nominee, he can get a nominee. If he wants a fight, he can have a fight.

The Republicans raised the good point that the Democrats have said that they wanted Alberto Gonzales out of there because they wanted the Justice Department to begin functioning. So, now, whoever gets nominated is going to be grilled--except for Orrin Hatch, maybe--is going to be grilled, and is going to be--

HUME: Hatch has taken himself out of it.

KONDRACKE: Well, I'm not sure that he has. But in any event, whoever gets nominated is going to go up there and have demands put on him for paper or testimony--

HUME: To offer up other people and surrender documents, and so forth.


HUME: So there is going to be a fight anyway.

SAMMON: I think beating up on a 9-11 widower makes about as much sense as beating up on General Petraeus. When it was the 9-11 widows no one was allowed to talk about it. But here is a guy who lost his wife on 9-11 and they are going to beat him up. I think it makes no sense politically.

HUME: But he is remarried now, isn't he? Moved on?


KONDRACKE: I don't think you can make that case, Bill.

Look he is going to be represented as a hard line partisan, and it is going to be fought on that basis.

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