Panel on Bipartisanship and the Candidates

Panel on Bipartisanship and the Candidates

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - October 23, 2008


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When it comes time to reach across the aisle and work with members of both parties to get things done for the American people, my opponent can't name a single occasion in which he fought against his party's leadership to get something done for the country.

OBAMA: I support charter schools and pay for performance for teachers. It doesn't make me popular with the teachers union. I support clean coal technology. It doesn't make me popular with environmentalists.

So I have a history of reaching across the aisle.


HUME: Well, it was a big deal earlier in the campaign for Barack Obama. In fact, one of the phrases attached to him by his admirers was that he was "post-partisan." And he talked a lot about reaching across the aisle and ending the poisonous atmosphere in Washington.

Talk of that has subsided. Those examples you heard him cite are about the only ones he does cite, and, of course, they are not about reaching across the aisle. They are about allegedly offending interest groups within his own party.

The question I have is, is this idea of bipartisanship simply gone away in this campaign?

KRAUTHAMMER: It certainly has in Obama's case.

When he was running against the other Democrats in the first half of the year, between let's say Iowa and Berlin, and he had to distinguish himself from others with whom he had no real difference in substance, he was the transcendent uniter, the guy who was on the magic carpet tour soaring above ordinary politics.

It worked, and at the time he was going to be a man who would transcend race and region and class and party. That was all part of his appeal.

All of a sudden, as you say, it's disappeared. Why? Two reasons. A, it's a McCain issue. He knows in fighting against McCain, McCain has the real stuff. He's lived it. He has done it. All of these examples Obama brought up are trivial and insubstantial.

Generally speaking, in Illinois and in the Senate, he has been a party man. So why raise an issue that is actually McCain's strength?

Secondly, he doesn't need bipartisanship. There is a wave breaking here, and the Congress will be heavily Democratic. It's conceivable that there is 60 Democrats or almost. He is not going to need any Republicans, so he can be as partisan as he wants.

So it is not an issue he needs, and it's not an issue he's strong on.

LIASSON: I think this issue is so interesting because Barack Obama has a post-partisan aura or a post-partisan persona, but he doesn't have a post-partisan or bipartisan record.

Right now I think Democrats used to extol people, people who were usually Republican who reached across the aisle, but right now they're in a very partisan mood. Look at how readily they accepted Obama's throwing over the public's funding for a campaign. You didn't hear a whimper out of Democrats for that. He has busted all the records.

HUME: Private money, yes. If it were a Republican with all this prize-

LIASSON: And he's raising big money from big donors, you know. About a quarter of his money comes from under $200.

NPR has a poll that's coming out tomorrow morning that asks a very interesting question. They said would you rather have a Republican president be a check on the Democratic congress or Democratic president.

Republican president won by quite a big margin. But when we asked the question again, would you rather have Barack Obama working with a Democratic Congress or John McCain as a check on it, of course, Obama edged out McCain by a very small margin.

So people are still in the mood for this. But I just think that that is not what this campaign is being waged on. There's no doubt that McCain has this all over Obama, but it doesn't seem to be what's moving voters.

BARNES: Look, Obama was not only the most liberal senator in 2007, he was the fourth most partisan. In other words, the average senator I think he votes with his party about 84 percent, something like that, and he was at 96 percent voting with Democrats.

He raised this thing. He has no record of being bipartisan at all in any serious way, but it sounded good for a while. And now he has dropped it I think for the reason Charles said. Democrats think they will be able to ram everything through. They don't need Republicans.

HUME: I understand that. That seems to scare the public to some extent, as Mara cited.

So should McCain make more of an issue of that, of Obama as a guy who will give in to the Congress, and the Congress will give in to him?

BARNES: I think that's a good issue. But we never see much strategic voting. In other words, people who might like Obama, but when they hear it would be one party rule in Washington, they will vote for McCain. You know, people usually vote for the candidate they like.

LIASSON: And that works when a president is trying to get a Congress of his own party.

I think this might be a little bit different. It is not so easy throwing over your beloved local congressman.

KRAUTHAMMER: People like divided government in the abstract, but in the booth, I don't think it makes a dime's worth of difference.

HUME: So you think it would be useless for him to raise it?

KRAUTHAMMER: It's worth raising because what has he got?

BARNES: It's worth linking Obama to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid because they're unpopular.

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FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


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