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Daschle & Ridge on "Fox News Sunday"

Fox News Sunday

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace and this is "Fox News Sunday."

The war on terror, trade, taxes and energy crisis. We'll tackle the top campaign issues as we continue our vice presidential auditions.

Today, we sit down with former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, co- chair of the Obama campaign, and former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, a McCain co-chair.

Then, Obama says no to public campaign financing. Will he be hurt by his flip-flop? How will McCain compete against Obama's fundraising machine? We'll ask our Sunday regulars -- Brit Hume, Mara Liasson, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams.

And our Power Player of the Week says Earth Day doesn't come just once a year, all right now on "Fox News Sunday."

And hello again from Fox News in Washington. Well, John McCain and Barack Obama went after each other this week over a range of foreign and domestic issues.

Joining us now to continue the debate are two national co-chairs of the campaigns who are both being seriously mentioned as possible running mates -- Former Democratic senator, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and, from Erie, Pennsylvania, the former Republican governor of that state and the first secretary of homeland security, Tom Ridge.

And, gentlemen, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."

DASCHLE: Thank you, Chris. It's good to be back.

WALLACE: Let's begin with...

RIDGE: Good morning, Chris.

Good morning, Senator.

DASCHLE: Good morning, Tom.

WALLACE: Let's begin with national security and the war in Iraq. The lead story in the New York Times yesterday assessed the situation on the ground this way, "Violence in all of Iraq is the lowest since March 2004. The two largest cities, Baghdad and Basra, are calmer than they have been for years. There is a sense that Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki's government has more political traction than any of its predecessors."

Senator Daschle, now that we are finally making progress in Iraq, why is Senator Obama still determined to get all of our troops out within 16 months? DASCHLE: Well, Chris, I think that's the whole question. Why do we need them if things are going this well?

But I think the real question is, is Iraq the central focus of what it is we need to do. What Barack has said is that we've got to fight the war on terror on a much more significant level of fronts.

We've got to be in Afghanistan more effectively. We've got to be sure that we're dealing with the war on terror where it really has generated the greatest degree of threat to the United States. That isn't Iraq. That is Afghanistan and it's worldwide.

So his whole effort has been to say, "Look, let's understand we've got to finish the job. And we've got to get out of Iraq a lot more carefully than we got in. But we really have to turn our attention to where we can do the most good." That's Afghanistan and the larger war on terror.

WALLACE: Governor Ridge, how do you respond to that, and is Senator McCain's commitment to winning in Iraq open-ended?

RIDGE: Well, first of all, I think we have to give credit where credit's due. Early on, my friend John said we don't have enough troops on the ground.

Ultimately, you need G.I.s and Marines. You need them to bring a level of stability so that the administration in Iraq can work. And it's beginning to demonstrate in a very meaningful way that that strategy is paying dividends. We still have a way to go.

But, clearly, the withdrawal that Senator Obama's talked about -- "As soon as I'm elected, I'm going to start bringing troops home" -- would not be in the long-term best interest of the Iraqi people, the region or the United States of America.

Can you imagine turning that country over to the terrorists? You turn a huge victory over to Al Qaida, the terrorists in Iran, and you create further destabilization in the region.

That's something we cannot afford to do, and that's why Senator Obama's policies are flawed from the get-go.

WALLACE: I'd like you to respond to that if you could, Senator Daschle. But also, specifically, Obama keeps talking about the fact that he's going to make a trip to Iraq sometime between now and the election.

What happens if he goes there and if General Petraeus, the author of the surge, and Iraqi politicians say to him, "Look, we have made gains," the gains the New York Times talked about, "and if we follow your path and pull our troops out, we're going to lose everything we fought so hard to gain?"

DASCHLE: Well, I doubt very much that General Petraeus would say that, Chris. And obviously, he will factor in whatever information he's provided. That's the whole idea behind the trip. But he is the commander in chief and he has made very clear that we've already spent more time in Iraq than we did in World War II. We've already spent more than $1 trillion. We've already lost thousands of lives and more thousands wounded.

We really have to begin to understand that this has to be an effort that we turn over to the Iraqis. Let them govern themselves. Make sure we have a much more effective multilateral presence, but above and beyond everything else, let's understand that the real threat is not Iraq.

The real threat is what we see in Afghanistan and around the world through the war on terror. And let's put our focus where it really has to be put.

WALLACE: Governor Ridge, come on in. But again, as part of your answer...

RIDGE: I do want to respond to that.

WALLACE: If I may, Governor, as part of your answer, I mean, at what point does Senator McCain say we do have to turn it over to the Iraqis?

RIDGE: Well, I think, again, that depends on the situation on the ground. As the New York Times is reporting, there's greater and greater stability.

The administration is taking greater and greater control of not only its diplomatic efforts overseas, its domestic efforts, but also its military and law enforcement.

The Maliki government was criticized a couple of months ago for taking a very aggressive posture going after some of these terrorists in some of these communities. That's exactly what we want them to do.

And make no mistake about it, this is a fundamental venue in the war against terror. Can you imagine turning this region over? You'd have terrorists supported by Iran, and you'd have one of the most abundant supplies of oil under their feet.

It is a central venue in this war against terror, and John has said -- and we all hope that the presence of Americans troops in future years is in a non-combat situation, providing the stability and the kind of support we provided Germany and South Korea for years and years.

WALLACE: McCain and Obama also fought this week about the Supreme Court's ruling on the constitutional right of terror detainees. Let's watch that exchange.


MCCAIN: He supports that decision to give those -- I understand Osama bin Laden, if he were captured, habeas corpus rights.



OBAMA: The fact that I want to abide by the United States Constitution, they say, shows that I'm trapped in a pre-9/11 mindset.


WALLACE: Governor Ridge, John McCain has been calling for years to shut down Guantanamo and move all those prisoners to U.S. soil.

Back as far as 2003, he was complaining that the Pentagon was far too slow in handling these terror suspects. So in fact, for all the rhetoric, doesn't he, like Obama, believe that these detainees should get their day in court?

RIDGE: Well, I think John has said consistently for the past couple of years we ought to close down Guantanamo.

That's separate and apart from giving these non-soldiers, these non- citizens, aliens, the same kind of protections you give Americans. And the fact of the matter is that the Supreme Court extended a right that previously was never extended to enemy combatants and even prisoners of war.

The opinion suggests that there's a certain deficiency within the process, the process by which Congress and the president of the United States created for them to determine -- to adjudicate whether or not they should be detained, and I suspect that, one, he's right. You've got to abide by the Supreme Court unless there's a political alternative.

And two, I think they have to move to a political alternative to find something different to dispose of these people held in Guantanamo, but that's separate and apart from closing down Guantanamo.

This is a flawed process. We extend a right to aliens, and we just need to go back and correct the process to adjudicate whether or not they should be detained and how long they should be detained. Where they should be detained -- we know it's not Guantanamo. It should be someplace else.

WALLACE: Senator Daschle, does Obama have no concerns about what happens when these terror detainees go into federal court for their habeas corpus ruling?

Do you give them classified information that led to their arrest? Do you take soldiers off the battlefield to come back to U.S. courts to testify, "You know, here's why I arrested this guy and sent him to Guantanamo?"

DASCHLE: Well, Chris, first of all, I think most people have been mystified by John McCain's flip-flop. It is an extension of the Bush third term, which is what we've said from the very beginning. But Barack Obama has said as clearly as anyone can he believes in our judicial process. He believes in our constitutional rights. And he understands that we haven't made one conviction so far.

Under the process this administration and John McCain now endorses, we haven't had one conviction.

WALLACE: But can you answer my...

DASCHLE: And we have lost

WALLACE: ... specific question about the...

DASCHLE: We have lost immense credibility around the world.

WALLACE: But can you answer my specific question about these detainee hearings? Do you give the defendants classified information that led to their arrest? Do you bring soldiers off the battlefield to come back and say, "Here's why I arrested this guy?"

DASCHLE: Well, that's a separate question from what the Supreme Court addressed this week.

WALLACE: But these are the kinds of things that come up in these habeas corpus hearings.

DASCHLE: Well, they come up, but that doesn't mean that the -- the central question is do you adhere to the Constitution.

Do you provide basic rights with regard to telling people what they're charged of and allowing them to defend themselves? Do you do that in a process like this?

The court today said yes -- this week, and I think they were absolutely right. Barack has said he supports that decision because he supports the application of constitutional principles to the people regardless of circumstances.

WALLACE: I want to turn to one more issue in this segment, and that is the debate over energy, and both candidates got into that this week. Let's watch.


MCCAIN: I certainly think that there are areas off our coast that should be opened to exploration and exploitation.



OBAMA: What he doesn't tell you is that George Bush's own Energy Department has said that this would have no impact on consumers until 2030.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WALLACE: Governor Ridge, if Senator McCain has decided to change his position and flip on offshore drilling, why not also drill in ANWR, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?

RIDGE: Well, first of all, let's put the whole question in perspective beyond both candidates. We're now talking -- I just drove by a gas station. Up here it was $4.30-something a gallon. That changes the nature of the debate.

And you add in the increased demand worldwide -- China, India and elsewhere. It's unacceptable. So we need a long-term answer because -- dramatic change in circumstances.

And John has said, "Look, we need nuclear, 45 by 2030. We need to drill offshore, give the states the right in the federal system to make that determination. Alternative fuels, conservation, clean coal technology."

John understands that you can't pay for heating bills at this level or sustain these gas prices for the ordinary family. We need a long-term solution. We have to start now. And conservation and windmills and ignoring the reality is not going to do it.

WALLACE: All right, but let me ask you, if it is such a crisis and because of that the senator has decided to end his long-held opposition to drilling along the coastlines of Florida and California, why not also drill in ANWR?

RIDGE: Well, my friend would give you a straightforward answer. Apparently he's seen the region, feels very strongly about the region up in Alaska and he said no.

We'll begin the process. We'll drill offshore. I'm not sure his feet are in cement on this if prices go to $10 a gallon and whatever.

But right now, he would prefer to see what these other measures that we would take -- drilling, nuclear, alternatives, conservation, clean coal technology -- before we really go into the pristine environment up in Alaska.

By the way, which we could do in a very protective, environmentally sensitive way, but John says today, "No, we won't do it. Let's go after these other alternatives first."

WALLACE: That's part of the answer I don't understand. He keeps saying that ANWR is pristine. Is ANWR, which is as we just showed a map, in the farthest northern reaches of Alaska that most of us will never see - - is that any more pristine than the coastlines and the sea life along California and Florida?

RIDGE: Well, I use the word pristine, and I guess we've all enjoyed the beautiful coast of Florida and California. But right now, my friend John has said, "Look, there are many, many different things we need to do in a very aggressive way."

He understands the implications for the individual families. He also understands we need a long-term solution. He's the only candidate that has this multidimensional long-term solution that includes nuclear, drilling, and all these other offensives in terms of going after additional fuel, given the incredible drain on existing supply because of the worldwide economy.

WALLACE: Let me bring in...

RIDGE: We have to do it now. And if he chooses not to drill in Alaska, so be it.

WALLACE: That's it. He decides.

Senator Daschle, Obama says -- talks about environmental damage from drilling offshore, but the fact is that a moratorium was put in effect in 1981. There's been a lot of technological advances since then.

We had Hurricane Katrina go through the heart of the Gulf of Mexico and ravage these oil rigs, and there were almost no oil spills. So what's he talking about?

DASCHLE: Well, Chris, first of all, we're surprised at yet another flip-flop on the part of John McCain here.

But the key here is what Barack said. We aren't going to produce a barrel of oil until 2030. We're not going to have the ability, first of all.

Secondly, we can't drill our way out of the problem. What we have to do is to provide the kind of commitment to conservation, the commitment to efficiency, the commitment to alternative fuels, the commitment to the ways that we know can be...

WALLACE: But let me just pick up...

DASCHLE: ... a real achievable result.

WALLACE: ... on that one point. You say -- and we had the quote of him where he said, "We can't do it until 2030." The fact -- let's say that's right, although some people say that that's exaggerated.

The fact is that we've been saying that for 30 years. If we had started drilling offshore 20 or 30 years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in. Isn't that precisely the mindset, when we keep saying, "Well, but this won't help us for 10 years?"

DASCHLE: There are thousands and thousands of federal land and other acreage that the oil companies have chosen for whatever reason not to use so far.

We haven't even depleted the opportunities that they have to drill in the areas where it is appropriate and where it is legal today. So until they've exhausted all those other possibilities, why would we go to someplace that has so little real value?

This another gas tax gimmick, Chris. This has nothing to do with meaningful production or meaningful supply. This has everything to do with another gimmick...

WALLACE: Governor Ridge, I've got to break in here. But when we come back, we'll talk -- take a look at Obama's decision to forgo public campaign financing, and we'll ask our guests where they stand in the "veepstakes."

Back with all of that in a moment.


WALLACE: And we're back now discussing the presidential campaign with Obama adviser Tom Daschle and McCain supporter Tom Ridge.

Before we turn to other issues, let's discuss the possibility that one or both of you will end up as your party's vice presidential nominee.

Senator Daschle, if Obama asks you, what will you say?

DASCHLE: I'd say Tom Ridge would make a great V.P. candidate, Chris.

WALLACE: For Barack Obama?

DASCHLE: No, no, no, for John McCain.

I'm not seeking the vice presidency. I've not talked to Barack about it. I don't expect to be asked. And I have no interest.

WALLACE: But that doesn't mean you'd say no.

DASCHLE: Well, obviously, you'd think about it. But as I say, I don't expect it, and I don't -- I'm not looking for it.

WALLACE: Let me ask you a question that applies to you and also applies to some of the other possible candidates.

For someone like Obama, who keeps talking about changing the way business is done in Washington, would it be a problem to pick you or any other, quote, Washington insider?

DASCHLE: It might. It might, and that's certainly going to be a factor that he'll be looking at. Who best suits the profile he's looking for and what is his chemistry with the candidate, how good a president would he make? And I think those are the key questions -- he or she make.

WALLACE: Governor Ridge, if McCain asks you, what will you say?

RIDGE: If he asks me, we'll have a private conversation and we'll decide whether or not we ought to tell you what we said.

I appreciate the question. I think it's very important, and I think the senator agrees with me, it's a very important choice for both parties. Both men are going to look at it very, very carefully. They have a deep bench, both sides of the aisle.

And when it becomes appropriate to talk about it, either from my perspective or Senator Daschle's, I guess we will. But for the time being, I'll leave that conversation up to my friend John.

WALLACE: Let me ask you, Governor, about one question, and it's sort of like Senator Daschle's. It's a generic question, but it does directly affect you as well.

Your biggest problem, according to the handicappers, is that you're pro-choice. Now, back in 1980, when Ronald Reagan picked George H.W. Bush, who was pro-choice, he said, "Look, I'll support the nominee of my party."

If McCain were to say to you, "I'd like you on the ticket," would you be willing to say on that issue of abortion, "I will follow the dictate of Senator McCain, the nominee of my party?"

RIDGE: Well, I believe what I believe, and I've had that point of view before I got into elected office. I've had it when I served, and I have it now.

And again, number one, we're not a one-issue party. Never have, never will be, although it's very important to our base. And it's very, very important to Senator McCain.

He feels very, very strongly about that issue, and that's why any conversation we have relative to that issue or the vice presidency is something that he and I have to discuss before I ever go down that path publicly.

WALLACE: But I just want to ask, because you said I believe what I believe, are you saying you would not be willing to make the pledge of support?

RIDGE: Well, I couldn't possibly -- I believe what I believe. I mean, I believe what I believe and have felt that way throughout my entire life.

Obviously, the vice president's job is to support once a decision is made, whether it's on social issues, economic issues or diplomatic issues, the position of the president of the United States.

But that doesn't mean that you don't share a belief that you've had your entire life. But again, those are really difficult and challenging questions when the vice president and the president disagree on a wide range of issues, but the vice president's job is to support the administration.

WALLACE: OK. Let's turn to something else. This week Obama reversed his pledge -- we've been talking about flip-flops -- reversed his pledge to seek public financing in the general election, Senator Daschle, and announced he will be the first candidate since Watergate to privately finance his general election campaign. That set off this exchange.


OBAMA: The public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken, and we face opponents who have become masters at gaming this broken system.



MCCAIN: He has completely reversed himself and gone back not on his word to me but the commitment that he made to the American people. That's disturbing.


WALLACE: Senator Daschle, didn't Obama show, for all his talk about principle, he's just another politician?

DASCHLE: Not at all, Chris. He has never said -- what he said was he wanted to preserve that option. That's what he said.

WALLACE: No, he said he would aggressively -- because he said it to me, "I would aggressively pursue a deal with the Republican nominee."

DASCHLE: Exactly. And they had meetings to talk about how we might resolve the dilemma of 527s and the dilemma of the outside groups that have been so instrumental in influencing elections in the last couple of years.

WALLACE: But the Democrats have spent -- do you know the Democrats...

DASCHLE: But I think, Chris, it's really important to emphasize he didn't break his word on this. And there is that assertion on the part of the campaign and some in the media. That is not right.

What Barack has done is created a new system of public financing. What he's done is...

RIDGE: Chris, Chris, the record is very, very clear here.

DASCHLE: Tom, if I could just finish, and then I'll give you plenty of time, Tom.

RIDGE: The record is very clear...

DASCHLE: What I just wanted to say is that he's got 1.5 million contributors. The average contribution is $88 -- three million contributions.

The whole idea behind public finance and this idea is to reduce the role of special interests and lobbyists. He's done exactly that.

WALLACE: Governor Ridge?

RIDGE: Well, first of all, I'm fascinated by the general approach that the senator takes and the Obama campaign takes.

They're willing to say one thing a year ago, two years ago, even a couple of months ago, and as circumstances change, immediately they go in another direction, whether it's I'm for NAFTA or I'm opposed to NAFTA, now I will reconsider my position, I was for -- supported Reverend Wright and now I'm going to leave his church.

But the public financing one is the biggest and most intriguing one of all. 2006, he says very, very clearly, "I support public financing." 2007, he actually signs a pledge.

On a national news television broadcast, he says, "I will work with John McCain so we can have a public financing arrangement that serves us both very, very well." And then in June of '08, he decides to take his own path.

He's not only broken a fundamental reform of the political system, but he's also broken his word both rhetorical and...

WALLACE: Well, let me just jump into this to ask one question, Senator Daschle. I mean, there's this talk about the 527s. Did you know that the Democratic 527s so far in this cycle have outspent the Republican 527s by more than 2-1?

It's like $120 million to $60 million. So I don't know where all this talk about Republican 527s come from.

DASCHLE: Well, I didn't say Republican. But I said 527s.

WALLACE: Well, I know, but...

DASCHLE: But what Barack has actually said was that he believes that 527s ought to be discouraged, and he's encouraged 527s...

WALLACE: But they're independent. There's no way the candidates can control them.

DASCHLE: They can't control them, but they can be discouraged. And a couple of 527s who have supported Barack have actually closed down as a result of his requests.

But as long as that's a factor, what good does it do to limit yourself on one side and be totally outspent, as John Kerry was, on the other four years ago? That is the problem. That's what he tried to...

RIDGE: The fact of the matter is that he will not be totally outspent. He made a rhetorical pledge, and he's done that a lot. He's a great, great and brilliant speaker.

He signed a pledge. He said on national news broadcasts, "I will sit down with John McCain and we will work out an arrangement where public financing works for both of us," and suddenly -- gone.

WALLACE: OK. Let me...


RIDGE: ... position on a fundamental reform within the political system. That goes to his credibility.

WALLACE: Gentlemen, we've got a couple of minutes left, and I want to go to one last area.

And in fact, you brought it up, Governor Ridge, and that's the issue of trade, where there's a big difference on NAFTA and other trade deals. Let's watch.


MCCAIN: Demanding unilateral changes and threatening to abrogate an agreement that has increased trade and prosperity is nothing more than retreating behind protectionist walls.



OBAMA: I believe in trade, and I think that, you know, under an Obama administration, we're going to have extraordinarily strong relations with Canada and Mexico.


WALLACE: Governor Ridge, is McCain telling the workers in your state of Pennsylvania that NAFTA has been a good deal for him and that as president he will push more trade deals like that?

RIDGE: I think Senator McCain is saying that our economic prosperity depends and demands our engagement around the rest of the world, that we need to understand that it is a global marketplace, that we need to provide our workers, small businesses, large businesses, the opportunity to compete successfully, and that the best way to do that on the international stage is to promote aggressive free trade around the world.

At the end of the day, that will enable us to sustain our standard of living over the long term and create family sustaining jobs.

WALLACE: So he's saying to the workers in Pennsylvania, some of whom may have lost their jobs to Mexico, "NAFTA was a good deal and you'll see more..."

RIDGE: Listen. You know, well, John understands very, very clearly that in this brutally competitive international marketplace, that there may be some ill-effects that affect some communities and some workers.

And clearly, that's why, in addition to promoting free trade, he has a very aggressive approach to deal with those who may lose their employment during the course of this international economic engagement. But make no mistake about it. You put up protectionist walls, you limit your ability to sell overseas. The long-term effect on jobs overall, not only in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania but around the country, is absolutely disastrous.

By the way, we've got a great facility here in Erie, Pennsylvania. General Electric builds our locomotives, the best in the world, and they sell them all over the world.

WALLACE: Enough of the commercial for Pennsylvania.

RIDGE: And they're glad they do.

WALLACE: Let me bring in Senator Daschle, and I apologize. We only have about a minute left. But hasn't Obama been all over the place on this issue?

DASCHLE: Not at all.

WALLACE: During the primaries, he was saying that he might opt out, that NAFTA had been a big mistake. Now he's saying, "Well, the rhetoric in the campaign got a little overheated, and I'm not going to do -- take actions unilaterally."

DASCHLE: Well, basically -- well, first of all, this is the best example I've seen this week, and it's only this week, that President Bush and John McCain are inseparable. This is the Bush-McCain economic policy at its worst, Chris.

What we're saying is simply this. We've got to enforce the trade agreements.

RIDGE: You know, Senator, you can keep trying that line all the way through this campaign.

DASCHLE: Tom, I gave you plenty of time.

RIDGE: But you know full well it's different.

DASCHLE: And I hope you'll give me a chance to respond.

First of all, I...

RIDGE: This morphing of Senator McCain into George Bush is wrong and...

WALLACE: Governor Ridge, Governor Ridge, first of all, we're running out of time. And we've got to give Senator Ridge the last period of time here.

Go ahead.

DASCHLE: Tom Daschle. But that's OK.

WALLACE: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

DASCHLE: That's all right. First of all, I think it's very important we enforce the agreements we have.

Secondly, John McCain doesn't get it when it comes to the importance of enforcing labor and environmental agreements and making sure that we insist on those.

And, third, it's critical that we put the kind of fairness into trade that we haven't had. There is nothing protectionist about that.

He wants to make sure that working people are cared for, are understood to be the important focus of trade in the future, and he'll do that as president.

WALLACE: Senator Daschle, Governor Ridge -- and I got them both right this time -- thank you both so much for coming in. Obviously, lots more to debate.

RIDGE: Thanks, Senator.

Thanks, Chris.

WALLACE: See you both again soon.

DASCHLE: My pleasure.

WALLACE: Up next, Obama decides not to take public campaign financing. Will his flip-flop help or hurt him?

And how will McCain deal with what looks like a big disadvantage in money? We'll ask our Sunday regulars when we come right back.



OBAMA: I would be very interested in pursuing public financing, because I think not every candidate is going to be able to do what I've done in this campaign, and I think it's important to think about future campaigns.


WALLACE: That was Barack Obama two months ago here on "Fox News Sunday" expressing his support for public campaign financing, which just this week he announced he'll forgo in the general election.

And it's time now for our Sunday regulars -- 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, Obama got roasted for his decision in the editorial page of some of the major newspapers in this country which had previously been praising him as an exemplar, an avatar, of the new politics.

Let's take a look at the editorial in the Washington Post. "Given Mr. Obama's earlier pledge to aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to accept public financing, his effort to cloak his broken promise in the smug mantle of selfless dedication to the public good is a little hard to take."

Brit, how badly will Obama be damaged by his flip-flop, and is it worth it to get all that extra money?

HUME: It's a flip-flop. It's worth it. And I say, by and large, good for him, for a couple of reasons.

One is that Obama really has proved that the limits necessary because of public financing, if you take it, do not merely screen out the evil influence of all the rich people in America, but they also make it impossible for a great many individual donors to make their voices heard through their contributions.

And Obama really has created a different form of financing, and it shows how unnecessary this whole public financing idea is.

If you're a popular candidate, and you make a grassroots effort, and you use the technology, you can raise all the money you need, and you don't even have to go to big oil, which is not necessarily a bad thing in itself, in my view, but -- so my sense about it -- it is a total and complete flip- flop, and there is an element of hypocrisy in it, and people can judge that as they want.

But if this contributes to the further erosion of confidence in this system, I say great.

LIASSON: Look, I think that it would have been very surprising if he hadn't have done this. And the interesting thing is how little flack he's getting from the left or from the kind of people who cared about reforming the system in this way.

I mean, winning is more important than principles in this case. I think it would have been a lot less disingenuous of him to have said why he was doing it.

The real reason is because he has this incredible resource and he's not going to give it up. He's not going to tie one hand behind his back. But to pretend that the reason he did it -- in his statement he talked about all these 527s lining up ready to smear him -- they're not. There's no evidence of them yet. I think they would like to get up and running, but they're not.

And also the fact is that he hasn't created a parallel universe. He has created something that's a counterbalance. He does have a lot of contributors who give him $200 or less. About half of his contributions come from them, not nearly as much as he suggests.

But he has a lot of big bundlers, and the thing that is being lost in this whole thing is the reason why people were for public financing, including Barack Obama, as he said to you, was because it had spending limits in it.

It's not because the money came from the government. It's because it had spending limits, and that is what Obama has effectively destroyed.

WALLACE: But isn't 84.1 -- or I think it's that -- million dollars enough to spend in the two months of September and October? Isn't that enough to get you elected president?

KRISTOL: Well, John McCain hopes it's enough because he's going to abide by the spending limits, and he's going to try to win the presidency with $85 million, which I think is doable. But it's probably better to have $200 million than $85 million. It's hard to know.

I think, generally speaking, pay T.V. in those last two months is not as important as in a Senate race or a House race where people don't know the candidates. Everyone's going to know John McCain and Barack Obama.

A huge majority of voters are going to see them on T.V. in debates. There's going to be a huge amount of press coverage. So I think Obama's money advantage is an advantage, but I don't -- it needn't be a decisive one over McCain.

WALLACE: What do you think of what Obama said, which are, one, I'd look at these bad 527s that are going to come kill me the way they went after John Kerry with the swiftboating in 2004, and also, in effect, I have public financing because I've got so many people giving me money?

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, to me, what strikes me is that he's got now, you know -- he's going to raise $300 million. It leaves McCain at a terrific spending disadvantage.

And so what you're looking at is advertising, you're looking at campaign structure, and all to the benefit of Senator Obama. But there's no getting away from the hypocrisy charge.

I think Brit Hume is going after this because he's all about breaking down the campaign finance system for big oil or rich people, or whatever. It's exactly contrary...


WILLIAMS: It's exactly contrary to the principles...

WALLACE: You like rich people, don't you?

WILLIAMS: He loves them.

HUME: I'd like to be one someday.

WILLIAMS: But it's exactly contrary to the ideals that Barack Obama said he was standing up for.

WALLACE: David Brooks, our colleague who's a columnist at the New York Times, wrote an interesting column this week, Brit, in which he said there are really two Barack Obamas.

He talked about "Dr. Barack," the principled do-gooder, and then "Fast Eddie" Obama, the cynical Chicago pol. There's a former alderman there named "Fast Eddie" Vrdolyak. Did we learn something about the real Barack Obama this week?

HUME: Well, there's nothing new here with this guy except an extraordinary personality, one of the most magnetic and compelling personalities we've seen in American politics ever. That is what is new.

He has a message of newness and change, but when you look at the issue positions he's taken over time, and you look at sort of the career he's had, it is utterly ordinary, garden-variety liberal, arguably the most liberal member of the United States Senate.

And in terms of ideas, has he got an idea that would draw people from both sides of the aisle, a big idea? No. Does he have any position -- serious, major positions that are at variance with the left wing of the Democratic party? Not really. This is one more example. Nothing new here. WALLACE: Mara, I want to go back to what Bill said, which is the question of how much -- if he is able to outraise and outspend McCain by 2-1, 3-1 -- and let's put up a commercial right here that he is now running this week, Obama in 18 states. Take a quick look at it.


OBAMA: I'm Barack Obama. America's a country of strong families and strong values. My life's been blessed by both.


WALLACE: As we continue running the ad, and it's filled with pictures of him and the whole -- you've got the whole point right there, that he has mainstream American values.

The interesting thing, Mara, is he's running that now in 18 battleground states, and not just states...

LIASSON: Not just battleground states.

WALLACE: Well, 18 states, I was going to say, not just states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, but Republican strongholds like Alaska.

LIASSON: And Montana.

WALLACE: And Montana and Indiana and North Carolina. He is going to expand the playing field.

LIASSON: That is what this money means. And that is why you're not going to hear any peeps out of Democrats who used to love the public financing system.

He can now speculate -- he doesn't have to really think that he has a chance of winning Georgia or some of these other states, but he can speculate there. He has no financial constraints.

He can force John McCain to defend states that he never -- a Republican should never have to defend. And he can really help Democrats down ballot. What he offers to the Democratic Party cannot be exaggerated.

I mean, he's going to have staff in 50 states. He's going to have this massive voter registration drive. He is going to -- look what he did for those special House elections in the south when they tried to nationalize them and run against him.

WALLACE: Don't you think, Bill, that was one of his arguments to the superdelegates when we were in this whole primary process, "Hey, look, this big money-making machine -- you know, a rising tide will lift all Democratic boats?"

KRISTOL: Well, and it could, and that ad is important for this reason. It is the move to the center. Obama ran on the left, as Brit said. He was a state senator on the left. He was a U.S. senator on the left.

Now he has an ad out -- what happened to hope and change? There's no hope and change in that ad. That ad is, "Hey, I'm Mr. Middle America, strong families, strong values, nothing to worry about with me."

This week he is going to support the compromise bill on eavesdropping that the left wing of the Democratic Party hates. A majority of House Democrats voted against it. Obama's going to vote for it.

WALLACE: And, Juan, does the move to the center work for Barack Obama?

WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah, it's what Barack Obama has to do. It's what Michelle Obama has to do. It's what the whole campaign has to do.

And actually, this week Obama is going to meet with Mrs. Clinton and talk about maybe joining in some of the fundraising apparatus, put more money in the pot.

Again, it's a different kind of election because the Democrats are going to have such a strong advantage in terms of finance for the first time, I think, in this generation.

WALLACE: "Fast Eddie" Obama. I love it.

All right, we need to take a break here, but coming up, was an Israeli air force exercise practice for an attack on Iran? We'll discuss that after the break.


WALLACE: On this day in 1944, President Roosevelt signed the G.I. bill into law. It provided returning members of the armed services with educational opportunities for their service in World War II.

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



BUSH: The free world has an obligation to work together in concert to prevent the Iranians from having the know-how to develop a nuclear weapon.


WALLACE: That was Mr. Bush this week on what may be his last trip to Europe as president, making one more push for tougher economic sanctions against Iran.

And we're back with Brit, Mara, Bill and Juan.

Well, with seven months left in the Bush administration, Brit, what do you think are the chances that more diplomacy and sanctions will stop Iran's move toward its nuclear program? And failing that, what do you think are the chances that President Bush will launch a military strike before he leaves office?

HUME: I think there's some real chance that the further efforts may hamper Iran but not stop Iran from going forward with this. Iran is bent on this.

The second thing I'd say about that is that I don't think there's much chance that this administration will go military in an approach to that.

The question really is -- the deeper question is whether Israel will and, if it does, how much support, help, whatever, the United States might lend to that. That's a somewhat different question. And I think that's an open question.


LIASSON: Well, first of all, I think it doesn't matter how much support or help the United States gives.

If Israel does make a strike, the United States is going to be blamed for it anyway, and I think there will be a certain amount of blowback. It could be pretty bad. I think that's what people are worried about if, in fact, there is a military strike.

I think it's unlikely that Iran will be deterred from its efforts by the time President Bush leaves office. I think the bigger question is what would Barack Obama do.

And in light of what Bill Kristol was just talking about, as he kind of marches back to the center, how is he going to kind of adjust and shift this promise to meet unconditionally for direct talks with some leader? Now we're not sure if it's Ahmadinejad. It might be somebody else.

You know, the U.N. Security Council has made preconditions in resolution after resolution. They'll say that we're going to give Iran all sorts of incentives if they suspend. Well, that is exactly the opposite of what Obama's Iran policy is at the moment. And it will be interesting to see how that...

WALLACE: Bill, I want to go back to President Bush, though. The core of the Bush doctrine, as stated in -- I guess it was his 2002 state of the union speech, is we will not allow the world's most dangerous regimes to get their hands on the world's most dangerous weapons.

Why would Mr. Bush leave office allowing Iran to go full speed ahead on its nuclear program and leave it up to the next president, especially if that president is Barack Obama?

KRISTOL: I think what the president would say is that he's going to leave the next president a strong diplomatic coalition with three U.N. Security Council resolutions behind it saying Iran cannot have -- that Iran's nuclear program is not legitimate, it's not a peaceful nuclear program, with sanctions, and depending on how fast you believe the Iranian program is going, with the next president having the opportunity to then take military action if possible.

And I think, honestly, if the president thought John McCain were going to be the next president, he would think it more appropriate to let the next president make that decision than do it on his way out.

I do wonder with Senator Obama -- if President Bush thinks Senator Obama is going to win, does he somehow think that -- does he worry that Obama won't follow through on that policy? Which is not just a Bush policy, you know. It's a policy of the U.N. Security Council.

WALLACE: So are you suggesting that he might, in fact, if Obama is going to win the election, either before or after the election, launch a military strike?

KRISTOL: I don't know. I mean, I think he would worry about it. On the other hand, you can't -- it's hard to make foreign policy based on guesses about election results.

I think Israel is worried, though. I mean, what signal goes to Ahmadinejad if Obama wins on a platform of unconditional negotiations and with an obvious reluctance to even talk about using military force?

And that's one of the ways in which electing someone like Obama -- and people are free to be for him for a million reasons, but it's just factually true that electing someone like him, with the policies he's articulated, I think increases the risk of enemies testing him in his first months in office and allies being worried that he'll be too weak.

And it's not just Israel using nuclear weapons -- using force against Iran. What do Saudi Arabia and Egypt think if they listen to Obama? Don't they have a temptation to think, "Gee, maybe we could use nuclear weapons if Obama becomes president?"

So I think Obama actually, from the point of view of the national interest, has some obligation, I think, to make clear that he will be tough on Iran and tough in some areas of the world. Otherwise, he increases the risk of other nations doing things we might not want them to do.

WALLACE: Well, let's talk about Israel, because it now turns out that earlier this month, Israel launched a major military exercise over the eastern Mediterranean that was widely read as kind of a rehearsal.

They went 900 miles out, which happens to be the distance from Israel also to the nuclear facilities, for instance, at Natanz in Iran.

Juan, what's your sense of what Israel is prepared to do? Are they going to act on their own, or are they just, by doing such a public display, trying to say to the world, "You better act because, if not, we will?"

WILLIAMS: I think Israel's capable of acting on their own. I think the former army chief said that because, in his opinion, sanctions had been ineffective, he thought that an attack was inevitable, because Israel would have to defend itself and then, of course, the U.S. will be brought in.

But I object strongly to this idea that somehow we would infantilize Senator Obama here on this panel, that he's somehow not tough on national defense. Any new president's going to be tested in some ways. But U.S. foreign policy with regard to Israel is fairly fixed. And Obama has made a point.

And I also think that he's made it very clear that with regard to Iran, there are preconditions to the talks. He does want them to take steps to step down from any kind of development of nuclear weapons in order to have a real discussion because guess what, the U.S. policy in Iraq, the U.S. policy in Afghanistan, has isolated the U.S. in terms of its ability to put pressure on Iran, and that's the problem.

You talk about this president going out and worrying about the next president. This president has worsened and weakened the U.S. position, the U.S. ability to take hard stands against Iran effectively and bring in allies and make those sanctions effective.

He shouldn't be worried about Obama. Obama should be worried about what Bush has done. HUME: You know, I think, Juan, you have it backwards on one point there, which is that Iran has been somehow enhanced and strengthened by what's happened around it.

Iran is in the process of suffering a very serious defeat in Iraq. The forces arrayed with Iran are losing now. Iran's allies and friends in places like Afghanistan are contending with American and other forces there as well. Things are back and forth in there.

But look at Iran. It's got American forces on its doorstep in two places. Its own economy is in terrible trouble. This is, in addition, a nation with, you know, huge crude oil supplies with virtually no refining capacity.

They are a vulnerable country with a very restive population that is not adverse to the United States of America.

WILLIAMS: I think by Israel's...

HUME: This is a classic case of I'd rather be us than them.

WILLIAMS: But I think by Israel's own estimate, Iran is stronger than at any time since the '79 revolution, in addition to which they've got -- you know what? The prime ally that Iraq has is Iran in so many ways.

And don't forget, don't forget here, that the U.S. has military forces on the ground in the wrong places if we are to truly...

HUME: You'd like to have them in Iran?

WILLIAMS: Well, I'm saying then Iran has to consider that. They don't at the moment.

WALLACE: Gentlemen, we're going to have to leave it there. See you all next week.

Time now for some mail, and you had a lot to say about high prices at the gas pump.

Donna from South Beloit, Illinois writes, "If America has the technology and laws to drill and refine oil in an environmentally friendly way, and environmentalists refuse to allow us to do it here, aren't environmentalists partly to blame for high prices and oil pollution?"

But Terry from Santa Fe offers another approach. "Americans are at long last beginning to conserve in response to prices. This is going to change everything for the better, including the reduction of greenhouse gases."

Be sure to let us know your thoughts by emailing us at

Up next, our Power Player of the Week.


WALLACE: Earth Day has become the biggest non-religious holiday in the world, with more than one billion people involved. But what do the organizers do the rest of the year? Just ask our Power Player of the Week.


ROGERS: Everybody's listening right now, which gives us an opportunity to talk about lots of different solutions.

WALLACE: Kathleen Rogers is head of the Earth Day Network, an organization that grew out of the annual event to push environmental issues year round.


ROGERS: But you're here for something really serious, and that's climate change.


WALLACE: And she's talking about how the painful spike in gas prices has made people pay more attention to the problem.

ROGERS: People are looking for ways both to solve the crisis globally as well as ways that they can save money in their homes or in their businesses.

WALLACE: While the country debates long-term solutions, her focus is on what people can do now, such as conserving energy and cutting utility costs in new buildings.

ROGERS: Whether it's about energy savings or protecting your children from toxics, obesity, asthma, respiratory illnesses, we have a very broad definition of environment, which if you look in the dictionary, it's what surrounds you.

WALLACE: Which brings us to Cool Globes, some 40 one-ton works of art they've put up around the Botanic Garden in Washington, each offering environmental solutions, like this one on recycling.

ROGERS: Unfortunately, it's so attractive that people can't keep their hands off of it. So we keep a garbage bag below the globe so when people pull off the pieces, they can put it in to recycle.

WALLACE: Or another one on the cost of transportation.

ROGERS: It's a huge globe with hundreds of little cars all over it, placed in sort of interesting places, so -- it's not supposed to be a touch-and-learn exhibit, but it's turning out that way.

WALLACE: The Earth Day Network is planning to put more globes in New York and the West Coast, then auction them off to raise money to make every school green within a generation. Rogers says when you put in natural lighting and take out toxic chemicals, bad carpeting and unhealthy air systems, the results are dramatic.

ROGERS: Children learn better, have better test scores, have less tooth decay, actually grow taller.

WALLACE: And is there a connection between lighting and tooth decay?

ROGERS: Yeah, it's Vitamin D, and it has a huge impact.

WALLACE: Kathleen Rogers started at a law firm helping corporations get around regulations. But in 1991, she joined the environmental movement.

ROGERS: I think I've always been both an optimist and a little bit of a do-gooder, and I certainly have been more comfortable since I've crossed over.

WALLACE: But she's always aware of the economic part of the equation.

You seem very determined to be practical and pocketbook oriented.

ROGERS: I pay the same costs that everybody does in this country, and I'm watching them rise. I mean, climate change is not going to be painless if we're going to solve the problem. I don't think we'll be successful if we're not practical.

WALLACE: What does she do personally?

ROGERS: I turn off my lights when I can. I don't waste my water when I'm brushing my teeth. I drive a Prius most of the time, unless my husband takes it. I'm always cognizant of what it takes to be a good environmentalist. And like all people, I peak and valley on these issues, so I'm certainly not perfect.


WALLACE: As for the campaign, Rogers says John McCain has shown some courage in taking on his own party over the environment, but she says she's not satisfied with either his plan or Obama's.

And that's it for today. Have a great week, and we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."

For more visit the FOX News Sunday web page.

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