Panel on the Candidates' Housing Fight

Panel on the Candidates' Housing Fight

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - August 22, 2008


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of his biggest fundraisers helped him buy his million dollar mansion, purchasing part of the property he couldn't afford. From Obama, Rezko got political favors, including $14 million from taxpayers. Now he's a convicted felon facing jail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Call it "country club economics." How many houses does he own? John McCain says he can't even remember anymore.

Well, it's seven. No wonder McCain just said the fundamentals of our economy are strong, and anyone making less than $5 million a year is middle class.

Maybe McCain thinks this economy is working for folks like him, but how are things going for you?


BAIER: Two different ads there hitting the airwaves. This all has to do with this back and forth over a question John McCain was asked, how many houses do you and Mrs. McCain own? He did not have an answer right away, and that has spurred this back and forth. You saw Tony Rezko being mentioned by the McCain ad.

Now, today Barack Obama was asked about this charge of John McCain being elitist. Take a listen to this interview.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For John McCain to suggest that I am somehow elitist, which he has said-

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you did say, by the way, you made $4 million.

OBAMA: Well, over the last two years. John McCain has been living like this for the last 25.


BAIER: When they made the money.

We're back with the panel. Some analytical observations about all of this from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of "The Weekly Standard," Nina Easton, "Washington Bureau Chief of "Fortune" Magazine, and Mort Kondrake, Executive Editor of "Roll Call," Fox News contributors all.

Fred, you were laughing at that answer.

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I don't think that softens a lot. It was $4 million over two years he said, not one year.

And for Obama to say he is not an elitist is silly, because of course he is. He was a law school professor and he lives in Hyde Park, one of these, you know, hoity-toity, heavily academic suburbs of Chicago.

On the other hand, in the ads, the Obama ad is certainly a lot better, and grabs on a point, a clear point that I think people understand than the Rezko ad that the McCain people did.

The McCain people, if I were in their shoes, I'd drop the subject. You don't need to go back and forth on this. This is not something that is going to help McCain. I don't think it's hurting him much, but the longer it goes, it might.

BAIER: Nina, could the Democrats overreach on this one? Could they go too far, or no?

NINA EASTON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Absolutely not. I think this was a gift that will keep on giving for them for one reason, and that's that when people see John McCain, they tend to think of him as Vietnam vet and so on, an senator. They don't think of him as a wealthy man.

And Cindy McCain is a very wealthy woman, and you saw the news all day.

This was very smart of the Obama campaign, by the way, is to keep off the VP announcement all day today so that you could play this over and over again, but we now know about Cindy McCain had a condominium, a multi- million dollar condominium in San Diego he, and didn't like sharing it with her kids, so she bought another multi-million dollar condominium.

BAIER: So he's married to a rich woman, and that somehow is a negative on him?

EASTON: It will hurt him. First of all, the economy is the number one issue, as we all know. It's bad economic times. People are feeling the strain, and it hurts him, because it defines him as a wealthy man, and he wasn't defined like that before.

MORT KONDRAKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "ROLL CALL": Look, I think that this ought to kill the elitism issue. Face it-they're both elitists in their own way. He is an intellectual elitist, and McCain is an economic elitist. I mean, he is traveling with the rich. He he's been traveling with the rich for a long time.

What they ought to do is forget about character identification or assassination or whatever it is that elitism is all about and start concentrating on policy, for heaven's sake.

I hate to be a wonk about this, but one candidate or the other--both candidates ought to be arguing about which of their economic philosophies is better for ordinary people.

And I think Obama has a pretty strong case that continuing, basically, the Bush trickle-down economics--trickle-down economics has not worked for the average person in the past eight years, and repeating it without better adjustment in some way is not going to work for the ordinary American in the next eight years.

I think that is a dynamite argument for Obama.


BAIER: McCain is an elitist, with his history, it's tough to pin that on John McCain.

KONDRAKE: He doesn't look like an elitist, he doesn't act like an elitist. He just is very rich--maybe by marriage.

BARNES: The notion that somehow people say "John McCain is rich, I'm against him now"? Utter nonsense!

EASTON: No, no, wait, wait, wait. Can I answer that? It feeds into the whole problem that McCain is having on the economy, his gaffe starting back with, you know, I don't know much about the economy. It is part and parcel of a larger package. So it does hurt him.

BARNES: McCain has a problem on the economy because the economy is sour. In fact, though, when he says it's fundamentally sound, it is obviously fundamentally sound because of all the hits it has taken, no recession.

BAIER: Here is another issue coming up as we head to Denver--Hillary Clinton and her role there. At a speech in Florida last night she said "I need a president who will work with me, who will be there for the people I care about, that I get up and fight for every single day."

She went on to say that is Senator Obama.

Today she had this to say.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: I have always said that I will do whatever I can because I feel so strongly in making sure that we elect Senator Obama our next president.


BAIER: Mort, Major Garrett said some of the speculation out there is that this VP announcement hasn't come because this they're trying to take some of the sting out of the Clintons' first two days controlling the story in Denver. What do you think of that theory?

KONDRAKE: Look, the announcement has got to come before Saturday when he appears in Springfield. If it doesn't happen then, people are going to start--

BAIER: They waited this long--

KONDRAKE: Look, I think that the waiting has built up suspense. It's demonstrated incredible discipline on the part of the Obama campaign to keep this from leaking. And a little bit of it is a game and maybe played over the top a little bit, but, nonetheless, I think it has been pretty effective. And everybody is going to be watching on Saturday.

EASTON: And it showed also, it revealed all of us on cable TV playing along with this game that they have set up for us, because all day long, breathlessly waiting, any minute it's going to happen, any minute there is going to be announcement.

The effect of that is that there are more people calling in to give the Obama campaign their cell phone number because that's how they're going to communicate this. So the media bought into this whole get out the vote effort by the Obama campaign.

BARNES: If you think hat that will affect the outcome of this election in even the tiniest way, you're nuts, because it's not at all.

What is happening here, the only think is they dragged out the announcement and so some reporters are irritated because they thought it was going to come early. Does the average person care whether it's Saturday or Sunday or whether it's tonight or whether it's right after this show? No, not at all.

BAIER: And what about the Hillary Clinton/Bill Clinton storyline in Denver?

BARNES: There is only one story right now that people are interested in Denver, and that is the Tuesday night speech by Hillary Clinton. That's the big story.

Now, after she gives it, we may forget about it, and then we'll go to the veep speech and the Obama speech. Right now, it's the Hillary one, though.

For more visit the FOX News Special Report web page.

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


Follow Real Clear Politics

Latest On Twitter