Interview with Rush Limbaugh

Interview with Rush Limbaugh

By Fox News Sunday - November 1, 2009

WALLACE: I'm Chris Wallace and this is "FOX News Sunday."

Rush Limbaugh speaks out -- the king of conservative talk radio on President Obama... (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: What has he done for and to the country?


WALLACE: ... on the state of the GOP...


WALLACE: Why aren't people turning to the Republicans?


WALLACE: ... And on himself.


WALLACE: What did you learn from drug rehab?


WALLACE: Rush Limbaugh in a "FOX News Sunday" exclusive.

Then, big governors' races Tuesday on Virginia and New Jersey. Carl Cameron has the latest from both battleground states, while Major Garrett looks at what the election means for the Obama White House.

And House Democrats commit to health care reform with a government option. We'll ask our Sunday group -- Brit, Mara, Bill and Juan -- if it will become law, all right now on "FOX News Sunday."

And hello again from Fox News in Washington. There's news out of Afghanistan. Abdullah Abdullah, the main challenger to President Karzai in next week's runoff has dropped out, saying Karzai refused to reform the election process to prevent more massive fraud. We'll have more on that story later.

Now to our interview with Rush Limbaugh. Whether you love him or can't stand him, he is a major player on the American political scene. For three hours a day, five days a week, he tells listeners exactly what he thinks on more than 600 radio stations across the country.

We traveled to Palm Beach this week where Rush does his show for a rare interview discussing everything from politics to whether he's really worth that huge amount of money he makes.


WALLACE: Rush, welcome to "FOX News Sunday."

LIMBAUGH: Thank you. Appreciate it.

WALLACE: This week it will be one year since Barack Obama was elected president. In that time, what has he done for and to the country? LIMBAUGH: I think it's all to. I don't think there's any for. I'm -- Chris, I'm -- I'm really, really worried. We've never seen this kind of radical leadership at such a high level of power in the -- in the country.

I believe that the economy is under siege, is being destroyed. Anybody with any economic literacy would not do one thing this administration's done to try to revitalize the private sector. They're destroying it.

And I have to think that it may be on purpose, because this is just outrageous, what is happening -- a denial of liberty, an attack on freedom.

I mean, just -- just a couple days ago, they talked about these 650,000 jobs that they've created or saved. There's no such thing as a saved job. Besides that, they've destroyed jobs. They've lost 3.3 million jobs in this country since Obama's stimulus plan, and it's going to get worse.

WALLACE: But -- but wait a minute. How about save the country from a financial abyss, 3.5 percent growth in the third quarter in GDP?

LIMBAUGH: There wasn't any growth in the private sector. That 3.5 percent came from two things -- government spending on "Cash for Clunkers" -- they just moved fourth quarter auto sales into the third quarter -- and the first-time home buyer thing.

GDP equals CIG -- that is, consumers, the investment of business, and government. And it's all G. It's all government. There is no private sector growth. There were no new jobs being created. We're losing them.

WALLACE: How about kept the country safe for nine months?

LIMBAUGH: I don't know how safe we are. Iran is nuking up. Everything that we've asked them to do they are forgetting. They're not going to move their plutonium, their enriched plutonium -- uranium out of the country like they said so.

We can't make up our minds what we're going to do in Afghanistan. We're dithering there. I don't -- I don't think we're any better off in any way it could be measured.

WALLACE: You have now taken to calling Mr. Obama "the man-child president."


WALLACE: What does that mean?

LIMBAUGH: Just -- he's (inaudible) he's a child. I think he's -- he's got a -- a five-minute career. He was in the Senate for 150 days. He was a community organizer in Chicago for however number of years. He really has no experience running anything. He's very young. I think he's got an out-of-this-world ego. He's very narcissistic. And he's able to focus all attention on him all the time. That -- that description is simply a way to cut through the noise and say he's immature, inexperienced, in over his head.

WALLACE: Let's talk about a couple of the big issues the president is dealing with now -- first of all, Afghanistan. You suggest that he is taking all of this time to decide what to do in Afghanistan to keep his left-wing base on board for health care reform.

LIMBAUGH: Well, it's partly that, but I also don't think he cares much about it. I think once...

WALLACE: Well, come on.

LIMBAUGH: No, I -- no, see, this is -- I know this is going to sound controversial, but I don't think he cares that -- if he -- Chris, if he cared about -- we've got soldiers and their families worrying about what we're going to do. The general on the ground said we need some more troops.

The policy that he implemented in March he now doesn't like and is trying to figure out how best to make everybody happy here politically on his side of the aisle and also for his image. Democrats have a tendency to be seen as weak on defense, so he's battling with that.

But again, if he cared about victory -- remember, he said about Afghanistan victory is not something he's comfortable with, the concept. It reminds him of the Japanese surrendering on the USS Missouri. It made him very uncomfortable.

He wants to manage this rather than achieve victory. He says these things. I don't know if people actually listen and have them register when he does.

WALLACE: But you say you don't know that he really cares. Do you at least give him credit for going to Dover, Delaware to honor the remains of soldiers, dead soldiers, who came back from Afghanistan?

LIMBAUGH: You know, see, the politically correct thing to say here would be, "Oh, yes, I am very impressed that President Obama decided to go show his concern for the remains, troops who've given their lives for freedom in this country."

It was a photo op. It was a photo op precisely because he's having big-time trouble on this whole Afghanistan dithering situation. He found one family that would allow photos to be taken. None of the others did.

And of course, when you have a sycophantic media following you around, able to promote and amplify whatever you want, then he can create the impression that he has all this great concern, but the -- Bush did this... WALLACE: Well, no...

LIMBAUGH: ... but no cameras.

WALLACE: I don't know that he ever went to Dover, Delaware.

LIMBAUGH: No, he went to see the families.

WALLACE: Yes, he certainly went to see the families.

LIMBAUGH: But he didn't make photo ops out of it. The...

WALLACE: Well, but the argument would be that it was political of Bush not to be seen with the coffins because he was trying to hide it, hide the cost of war from the American people.

LIMBAUGH: Well, I have the benefit of knowing George Bush a little bit, and I -- I -- I've seen him cry talking about missions that he's ordered. I think he has a great, profound, deep respect for the families of all military personnel, and those who have died...

WALLACE: But I don't disagree with that...

LIMBAUGH: ... and I -- he's not going to use them.

WALLACE: But you don't think that Barack Obama has a profound respect for our soldiers and the families that are giving the sacrifice?

LIMBAUGH: Chris, throughout the Iraq war, it was Barack Obama and the Democrat Party which actively sought the defeat of the U.S. military. They convened hearings and accused General Petraeus of lying. They said the surge would not work.

Harry Reid stands up, waves the white flag -- this war is lost. Jack Murtha is out saying our Marines at Haditha are guilty of rape. John Kerry is accusing our Marines of committing terrorism acts by going into the homes of Iraqis at midnight in the dark terrorizing, looking for Al Qaida or whoever was there.

Yeah. I mean, look. I hate to be honest with you here, but I do question their commitment to national security. I question their commitment to the U.S. military. They'll put their political survival and their political power being gained over anything else. They'll use anybody and throw anybody away in order to achieve it.

WALLACE: You also say that the president should give the generals, the commanders on the ground, as many troops as they need to win.

But a staunch conservative like George Will says, "Look, this -- Afghanistan has been a dysfunctional country. It's a corrupt country," and that we can beat the Taliban and beat Al Qaida without this huge commitment of new troops.

LIMBAUGH: Well, I don't know that. I don't -- I don't have the benefit of knowledge that George Will has, so I trust the experts, and to me they're the people in the U.S. military.

But these are -- these are -- you know, the surge in Iraq -- same thing. We went -- it worked. The Democrats were the ones opposed to it. They said it would fail, it wouldn't work. And by all measure it did.

Now the basic same theories are being suggested for Afghanistan and -- I don't know. The thing that bothers me about this is we're there. You know, it's -- whether we should have gone or what we've done heretofore is now irrelevant. There's only one thing to do, win. you know, what about Afghanistan? Easy. We win, they lose.

WALLACE: Let's turn to health care reform.


WALLACE: You have made no secret of the fact you oppose the public option, government-run health insurance to compete with private insurers. With tens of millions of Americans still uninsured, do you think that the government has any moral obligation to find some way to cover them?

LIMBAUGH: There is a way to insure the uninsured without doing any of what we're doing. If that were the objective, then I'd be full for it.

This is not about insuring the uninsured. This is not about health care. This is about stealing one-sixth of the U.S. private sector and putting it under the control of federal government.

And when they get this health care bill, if they do, that's the easiest, fastest way for them to be able to regulate every aspect of human behavior, because it will all have some related cost to health care -- what you drive, what you eat, where you live, what you do.

And there'll be penalties for violating regulations. It's going to be the biggest snatch of freedom and liberty that has yet occurred in this country.

WALLACE: And in 30 seconds, how do you insure the insured without this big overhaul?

LIMBAUGH: Well, I've run the numbers, and the real number of uninsured that want insurance is 12 million. Take some of the unspent stimulus. We have 85 percent of the stimulus unspent. Take some of it. For 35 to $40 billion a year, you could insure those people, not $2 trillion, not 1.4 -- if that's the objective, do it now.

WALLACE: Do you think the individual mandate is constitutional? Do you think...

LIMBAUGH: No, I don't think the...

WALLACE: ... do you think the government has the right...

LIMBAUGH: No. WALLACE: ... to tell people, "You're going to get health insurance, and if you don't get it, you're going to pay a penalty?"

LIMBAUGH: I do not think it's constitutional. Chris, this -- this is -- these are dark days for the country. This is deadly serious stuff. This is a total attempt to remake the country as founded and constituted. And it -- it worries me greatly.

WALLACE: We asked our viewers for some questions.

LIMBAUGH: I love Fox viewers. I love them.

WALLACE: Well, George Heplin (ph) sent this, "If President Obama would agree to an interview, what would be your first question?"

LIMBAUGH: Why are you doing this? Why? What in -- what -- what do you not like about this country that makes you want to inflict this kind of damage on it?

WALLACE: Lucille Golman sent this question, "Did you vote for John McCain in the 2008 presidential election?"


WALLACE: Really?

LIMBAUGH: Of course.

WALLACE: But you've been so critical of John McCain .

LIMBAUGH: Yes, but you weigh the two. I don't think -- there are a lot of people, Chris, that are saying there's no difference in two parties. I know a lot of people think that, and they're -- and they really, really believe it.

But I don't know of any Republican who would try to take over one-sixth of the U.S. economy. I don't know one Republican who would put forth this -- this irresponsible cap and trade bill. I don't know one Republican who would actually do that as something he initiated.

WALLACE: Let's talk about the state of the GOP. A recent Fox News poll found that the approval rating for the president has dropped to 49 percent, but meanwhile, only 25 percent of people approve of congressional Republicans.

As voters have growing doubts about the president and his policies, why aren't they turning to the opposition? Is there something that the -- that the Republican Party lacks in the way of a positive, affirmative agenda?

LIMBAUGH: The Republican Party needs to learn something. If it goes country club blue-blood moderate, it's going to lose. If it goes Reagan conservative and commits to it, it's going to win landslides.

WALLACE: To press my question, why aren't people turning to the Republicans? LIMBAUGH: Well, right -- right now there's no central Republican leader to turn to, and there's no central Republican message. The Republican messages is sort of muddied. What do they stand for? Right now it's opposition to Obama.

WALLACE: And is that enough?

LIMBAUGH: Well, it may be in 2010. I mean, I -- I actually do think that there's going to be a revolt against the Democrat Party and against Obama, even if voters in 2010 have nothing to vote for.

WALLACE: So do you think that the Republican Party -- do you see it as a big-tent party or small-tent party?

LIMBAUGH: Big tent.

WALLACE: But -- but you sound like you're kind of saying to the moderates, the -- particularly on social issues, "If we lose you, too bad."

LIMBAUGH: Well, I look at -- when I say big tent, I look at the United States of America, so I -- I -- I'm an American. I love this country. I want everybody in it to do well.

The conservative message is not, "OK, Hispanics, we have this plan for you. Women, we have this plan for you." That's what the Republican Party's trying to do, and emulate group politics. And the history is that -- you know, why be Democrat lite? Let them handle that.

Let's go after the big tent that is the country, and let's go get every person in this country -- I don't care what their race is, what their gender is, what their sexual orientation.

If they are told that there is somebody that's going to lead this country or party that is actually going to strengthen them, give them the tools, get out of their way and let them make this country work, the Republican Party can attract a majority like they haven't seen since the ‘80s.

WALLACE: In the Time Magazine article about Glenn Beck recently...

LIMBAUGH: Oh, yeah.

WALLACE: ... they write just as you found your place as the triumphant champion of the age of Reagan, that Beck is tapping into the fear and anger on the right today.

Is that why you think he's struck such a chord, because he taps into the fear and the anger of the conservatives today?

LIMBAUGH: There is a lot of fear. There's a -- there's a tremendous amount of fear in the country over what is happening in Washington to individual liberty and freedom. He may well have tapped into that. The anger -- I think that's -- that's sometimes overplayed, because it's become a cliche for the left to say angry white men as a way of denigrating conservative energy and ideology. But there's no question there's a lot of anger. And if -- and if he's tapped into that, I wouldn't be surprised.

WALLACE: When you look at Glenn Beck and you see this explosion, what do you feel?

LIMBAUGH: Well, I'm kind of -- I'm kind of proud.

WALLACE: No envy, no competition?

LIMBAUGH: No, no, no, no, no. I mean, my radio audience is astronomically high. I'm -- look it, in 1988 there was nobody doing what I'm doing. Nobody. You had -- CNN was the only cable network, and you had the three networks and the newspapers.

And now look. Now look what's out -- all of this conservative media, conservative talk radio, television, Fox News, the conservative blogosphere. I mean, I -- in one way, I could -- I could -- if I wanted to have my ego to be as big as Obama's is, I could say, "Look what I created."

So any success out there on my side, conservative media -- damn, if it's going to help us get this country back, bring more in.

WALLACE: Let's talk about you. You said recently, "I actually thank God for my addiction to pain pills because I learned more about myself in rehab than I would have ever learned otherwise." What did you learn from drug rehab?

LIMBAUGH: One of the -- one of the things that I'd always had trouble with in my life was trying to be what other people expected me to be or wanted me to be, in my personal life, because I wanted to be liked.

And everybody's raised to want to be liked and to want to be loved. Nobody wants to grow up being hated. Now, interestingly, my radio career -- I don't care. You know, I -- I figured that out. It was a tough thing, Chris, to learn to take as a measure of success being hated, you know, by 20 or 30 percent of the country. I mean, that -- because nobody's raised for that.

But in my personal life, what I -- the thing I learned most was that the only way to have real intimacy with people, real solid relationships, is to be who you are. That will attract the kind of people worthy of having intimate relationships with, good friendships with.

WALLACE: And without putting you on the couch, are you saying that the addiction came from some sense of personal inadequacy? LIMBAUGH: Oh, of course. Yeah. It -- I wasn't good enough. I was masking unhappiness elsewhere, not dealing with the real reasons I was unhappy in my personal life. I had -- I had never experienced the kind of euphoria that I got from a pain pill.

I think the only time that I really -- with all the success I've had, the only time I've had the kind of euphoria is when I made the high school football team as a sophomore. I was never prouder of myself.

But all my career achievements did not create that for me, because it's -- you've got to maintain it every day. It's not something you earn and that it lasts forever. And I don't look back. I don't stop and think about what I've accomplished because there's always tomorrow, so I don't have time for the euphoria. I don't have time for that.

Man, am I -- it's -- I'm too busy trying to meet everybody's expectations tomorrow. So the pain pills came along and they masked all these feelings of inadequacy that I had. Now, after just seven weeks of this place in Arizona, I have zero feelings of inadequacy.

It has not been replaced by an irresponsible ego. It's just a confidence in who I am.

WALLACE: You signed a new contract last year -- eight years, reportedly $400 million.

LIMBAUGH: Reportedly, right.

WALLACE: So I'll -- I'll go to the horse's mouth. True?

LIMBAUGH: It could be true. You know, I'm a -- a guy who earns a percentage of what I generate every year. There are some guarantees, but I'll tell -- the $400 million is not guaranteed. I have to earn that. So far...

WALLACE: But you could earn $400 million.

LIMBAUGH: I could. I'm ahead of schedule, in fact.

WALLACE: And don't get me wrong.


WALLACE: I think you're a great broadcaster. How can you possibly be worth that kind of money?

LIMBAUGH: Very simply. Value is determined by what somebody will pay you to do what you do. I'm probably worth more. I'm not complaining. Do not -- do not misunderstood.

But you know, this whole question -- see, because I'm a capitalist. You're worth whatever you can get. You're worth whatever your value is, and that's determined by what somebody's willing to pay you for it. And the only reason I get that money is because the people who invest in me get results beyond their expectations.

WALLACE: All right. You believe in the free market.


WALLACE: Let's talk about the NFL and the decision to drop you as a possible owner. What about the argument, "Look, this is a bunch of billionaire owners sitting around and saying, ‘Rush Limbaugh isn't good for business?'" Is that the free market?

LIMBAUGH: Yeah, but that didn't happen. It never was allowed to get to that point. My name was leaked as being part of a group. Roger Goodell, the commissioner, goes out and cites a six-year-old quote from -- that I made about Donovan McNabb, got it all wrong.

Jim Irsay of the -- I call him hearsay because he's repeating things that weren't true -- the owner of the Indianapolis Colts, joins the chorus. I never got -- I never got past first base. I mean, we...

WALLACE: So what do you think that was about? What do you think happened?

LIMBAUGH: Well, I think it's actually about the fact that the NFL is about to lose its current collective bargaining agreement with the players.

And guess who happens to be the new executive director of the players association? A guy named DeMaurice Smith, who is Obama. He's part of his transition team. He has -- he has suggested that the Congress, the White House, might get involved in stop a player-owner lockout.

So I -- I think -- and he got involved in this, too, you know. He was out participating in the spreading of quotes I didn't say, warning Goodell and the owners what might -- I think this was a warning shot across the bow, saying to the NFL, "Look, we're going to be close to running this league, not you. We don't want this guy here."

And I think -- I don't -- I don't really take this personally, but I do think it was a bunch of cowardice all the way around.

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WALLACE: Let's do a lightning round -- quick questions, quick answers.

LIMBAUGH: All right.

WALLACE: You started talking about Vice President Biden this week, and you said to your producers, "Now, get the bleep button, because I may go over the line," and then you censored yourself. So I'll ask you, what do you think of Joe Biden?

LIMBAUGH: Pompous, a bit of a windbag and wrong. WALLACE: About?

LIMBAUGH: Pretty much everything. I mean, he was a guy in July who says, "Well, we -- we guessed wrong on the stimulus jobs." We guessed wrong. Anybody with a brain could have told you the stimulus plan wasn't going to work. I mean, he's a walking comedy of errors.

WALLACE: Sarah Palin -- you say that you admire her backbone. Do you really think she's ready to be president?

LIMBAUGH: Well, yes, I do. See, I am a -- one thing I do not do is follow conventional wisdom, and the conventional wisdom of Sarah Palin is she's not smart enough, she needs to bone up on the issues, she's a little unsophisticated, she -- Alaska, where's that? -- doesn't have the pedigree.

I've seen -- she's the only thing that provided any kind of a spark for the Republican Party. This is not an endorsement, but I do have profound respect for Sarah Palin .

There are not very many politicians who have been through what she's through -- been put through and still able to smile and be ebullient and upbeat. I mean, this woman, I think, is pretty tough.

WALLACE: Finally, some politics. You predict a possible blood bath for Democrats in 2010.

LIMBAUGH: I really do. I know that there is an eruption waiting to happen at the ballot box. I know that a majority of the people in this country are opposed to every single major agenda item that Obama has proposed and is trying to get passed.

The mainstream media doesn't do it, doesn't know it. They think they need a visa to go to Missouri. You know, they -- they're not in touch with what's happening out -- and in fact, if they find out that there's this kind of angst, they look at the voters with contempt -- "Well, you're not sophisticated to understand how brilliant Obama is and how magical his agenda" -- they don't want any part of it.

And it's going to be bigger than anybody thinks, especially -- especially -- if health care gets passed, and if they get cap and trade, and they start going down this global warming fiasco track and get something passed on that. There will be a revolt at the polls.

WALLACE: If you had to bet now, does Barack Obama win re- election in 2012?

LIMBAUGH: If I had to bet now, he will not.

WALLACE: Have you got a name of somebody who's going to beat him...


WALLACE: ... can beat him?

LIMBAUGH: No. I have no clue about that.

WALLACE: If he does win, how is Rush Limbaugh going to handle seven more years of Barack Obama ?

LIMBAUGH: You know, I'm glad you asked me that, because one of the questions I always get is, "Rush, isn't Obama -- aren't these Democrats in power good for your business?" The way I go about my business, I'm out to get the highest ratings I get every day.

I'm going to attract the largest audience I can regardless the news. It's my -- it's my talent that draws the crowd. The news is incidental to it. No. I'm worried, seriously worried, about the future of the country.

I would never put my personal success in front of what I think is something that's disastrous for the country.

WALLACE: And seven more years of Barack Obama would...

LIMBAUGH: Well, it would be painful. It would literally be painful. This is -- every day you get up and there's a new potential threat to liberty and freedom being launched by this man and his administration.

And it's kind of -- be -- I mean, I -- some days I'm in -- I'm in radio and some days I feel like I'm in the trenches in a war -- no bullets being fired, but trenches in a war. I mean, it's really -- it's really intense when -- you know, I love this country.

To have this kind of passion, and my -- you know, I want -- Paul Revere. I want as many people to hear what I think the problems are, because I believe the people of this country eventually will make it -- make it work and get what they want. I do believe in the Democratic process and the vote.

WALLACE: Rush, thank you.

LIMBAUGH: Thank you, Chris.


WALLACE: There's much more of our interview with Rush Limbaugh, including what he thinks about this Tuesday's elections, and you can watch it by going to our blog,

Up next, will this week's two governors' races and a special election for Congress be a referendum on President Obama? Some answers when we come right back.


WALLACE: The center of the political universe this Tuesday is governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey, and a special congressional election in upstate New York.

Joining us now from the statehouse in Richmond, Virginia is Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron.

Carl, what's the latest?

CAMERON: Hi, Chris. Well, from New York, the word is that the Republican has bowed out of the race in order to let the right unify behind the New York State Conservative Party candidate and keep the 23rd Congressional District of New York out of Democratic hands.

Longtime state assembly woman Dede Scozzafava, pro-choice and pro-gay marriage, dropped out just three days before the election. She was trailing New York State Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman, who has been strongly backed by the Tea Party movement and various conservative notables around the country.

So to make sure that Democrat Bill Owens could not pull off an upset in this very red congressional district by dividing the right, Scozzafava bailed out. That will likely assure a win for Hoffman.

And then there's New Jersey, where incumbent Democratic governor Jon Corzine is in trouble. Democrats are counting on the president to help get out the liberal vote and save Corzine's re-election.

Republican former U.S. attorney Chris Christie led the polls for months. But in recent weeks, independent candidate Chris Daggett got some traction in the polls, which seemed to help Corzine get back in contention. An average of the most recent surveys shows that this one is a virtual dead heat.

That is not the case in Virginia. Old Dominion is shaping up like a Republican blowout. GOP candidate Bob McDonnell has had a double-digit lead in the polls for weeks, and Democrat Creigh Deeds has been unable to energize Democrats, some of whom, even in the White House, have all but given up on Virginia this time around.

New Jersey's looking like a nail-biter, Chris. But Republicans and even some Democrats acknowledge that it looks like New York's 23rd and Virginia could be cause for celebration for Republicans Tuesday night. Chris?

WALLACE: Carl Cameron reporting from Virginia.

Carl, thanks for that.

WALLACE: While Barack Obama 's name is not on the ballot, political experts will analyze the results for what they may tell us about public support for the president. For more on that, we turn to Fox News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett.

Major, how much does the Obama team think it has riding on this election?

GARRETT: Well, Chris, I asked Robert Gibbs, the press secretary for the president, that on Friday. He said the White House will take the long view for Tuesday's elections.

Well, whenever you have three elections the White House was deeply involved in, and the White House is taking the long view, you can't say the White House is optimistic going into Tuesday's voting. And indeed, it's not.

Let's go to New Jersey. Carl Cameron's adequately summarized that race. One thing to keep an eye on there -- the unaffiliated voters there. There are 2.4 million unaffiliated voters in New Jersey, compared to 1.8 million Democrats and about a million Republicans.

Right now, Chris Christie, the Republican, is running 51-29 ahead of Governor Corzine. If unaffiliated voters break for Chris Christie, move away from the Democrat, that could be a bad sign for Obama because he, of course, attracted lots of party loyalists, Democrats and then-unaffiliated voters in 2008.

In Virginia, the White House would say the less said about that race, the better. They don't believe Creigh Deeds has run a good campaign, and they blame his problems there for distancing himself early from the Obama White House.

Up in New York 23, White House officials also concede privately that Doug Hoffman, that conservative, is going to win there, and their plan to thwart Republicans by taking away the incumbent Republican there, John McHugh, luring him as army secretary to open up that seat for possible Democrat victory, is not going to work out.

So it could be a long and not-so-happy night for the Obama White House come Tuesday.


WALLACE: Major Garrett reporting from the White House and the rain.

Major, thanks for that.

GARRETT: You got it.

WALLACE: And be sure to tune in to America's election headquarters on Tuesday night starting at 6:00 p.m. for all the results.

Coming up, House Democrats tout their health care reform bill. Our panel weighs in on the 20-pound tower of legislation when we come right back.



PELOSI: We are about to deliver on the promise of making affordable quality health care available for all Americans.



BOEHNER: Now, tell me how -- how we're going to fix our health care system with 1,990 pages of bureaucracy.


WALLACE: Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican leader John Boehner previewing the battle set to take place this week in the House over the Democrats' new health care reform bill.

And it's time now for our Sunday regulars -- Brit Hume, Fox News senior political analyst, and contributors Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and Juan Williams, also from National Public Radio.

So House Democrats unveiled the health care bill that they're going to bring to the floor this week and there's already a disagreement about price. Let's put up some numbers.

Democrats say the total price tag is $894 billion. That's under President Obama's ceiling. But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the real price tag is $1.05 trillion.

So, Brit, does this compromise bill that Nancy Pelosi put up -- does it resolve the differences between liberal Democrats and moderate Democrats? And will it have enough support to get through the House?

HUME: Well, we'll see. It will be close. She will need to release a lot of her more moderate members to vote no. She can afford to lose, I think, about 40 of them if she holds everybody else and still pass the bill.

I'm not sure she quite has the votes yet, but you have to figure with the kind of leverage that the speaker can apply that she will have them. But even so, I think it will be very close.

There's at least a chance it could fail in the House, at which point they'll have to go back and start tinkering with the bill, and watering it down and so forth, perhaps get the cost down. And of course, as we know, the Senate on the other side is another story entirely.

LIASSON: I think it would be stunning if she doesn't get this through the House. This is the House of Representatives where all the rules favor the majority. And she already changed the bill a lot to appeal to the moderate Democrats.

The public option that's in the House bill now is not the Medicare-style public option that liberal Democrats favored. It is a public option, but it allows the rates that hospitals and doctors are reimbursed to be negotiated, not pegged to Medicare.

So she already moved to the right, and I can't -- she would have really miscalculated if she did that and still couldn't get enough Democrats. I think this will pass in the House, but I do think the final bill that finally comes out of conference, assuming we get something from the Senate, is going to look quite different.

WALLACE: Bill, you've never liked the Democratic health care plan in its various iterations, and you especially don't like this version. In fact, you say it combines the most unpopular Democratic and Republican proposals in the last generation.

KRISTOL: Right. It's got -- excuse me. It's got the Medicare cuts that almost doomed the Gingrich revolution in 1995. The Pelosi Medicare cuts dwarf the Gingrich Medicare cuts of 1995.

And it's got tax hikes, the tax hikes which the Clinton -- the Democratic Congress passed on a party-line vote in 1993, and it cost them the Congress in 1994.

And Nancy Pelosi has pulled off a great feat. You called it a compromise bill. It's like a compromise between awful and horrendous, you know? She's combined tax hikes and Medicare cuts in the same bill, in a bill that does nothing to improve the average American's health care or to improve the cost of the average American's health insurance.

It's an amazing feat that she's done, and now she's pushing this bill, this huge government takeover of the health care system, at the moment when we have an experiment, sort of an ongoing experiment, in government health care, the swine flu epidemic -- an emergency, the president called it.

If you like how the government's run swine flu, with lines, and queues, and promises that haven't come through in terms of having the vaccines available -- if you like the government's swine flu program, you'll love "Pelosicare."

WALLACE: Let me -- before you go, Juan, I just want to ask you a follow-up on that, Bill. Do you believe -- I mean, I -- it's a -- it's a good debating point for your side, but do you believe that the frustration that people are feeling with the swine flu vaccine, and the fact that they're not able to get it the way they thought they were going to be able to -- do you think that could actually hurt the move for health care reform?

KRISTOL: Yeah, they -- they're not getting it the way they were told they were going to...


KRISTOL: ... be able to by the Obama administration. Yes, I think it could. It could be one of those moments where it sort of crystallizes in a vivid set of scenes on the local evening news each night, a vivid set of experiences for actual -- you know, pregnant moms who -- I know a couple who have been waiting on line for two hours and then told, "Sorry, we've run out. You can't get shots for yourself or for your two little toddlers and, you know, go take your chances at" -- it makes vivid what government-run health care will be like.

WALLACE: Bill Kristol is on the side of pregnant moms and little toddlers.

WILLIAMS: Well, you can't beat that.

WALLACE: No, exactly.

WILLIAMS: Mothers and apple pie and baseball. But I must say that there's a huge difference between Hurricane Katrina and government failure, and what we're seeing here in terms of the delivery of the vaccine.

This is a matter of private manufacturers not living up to promises, problems in terms of delivery system. So that's something that you could say, "You know what? The Obama administration might have foreseen it. They might have done a better job of preparing for it."

But I don't think most Americans are blaming the Obama administration for this as they blamed -- that they said that President Bush's administration failed to properly understand or pay attention to what FEMA was not doing with regard to helping Americans with Katrina.

But coming back to the health care debate, I don't think it has any impact on the health care debate. I don't think anybody is connecting the two, except people who want to just be obstructionist, and don't want anything to happen, and like the status quo, and don't want to help Americans get health care insurance, which is Bill Kristol.

KRISTOL: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER) WALLACE: Brit, some people are now saying that all the fuss over the public option is greatly overplayed, that the CBO in its scoring of this says only 6 million people are going to end up on the public option and that this government-run health care insurance, in fact, may have higher premiums than private insurers.

Have we all been guilty of overplaying the significance of the public option in this?

HUME: It's possible, but there's -- the argument that suggests that the public option will eventually drive private insurance out of the market is -- is a reasonable argument in the sense that the government, with the power of taxation behind it, can force the prices for those premiums down as low as the government wants and as low as Congress wants and ultimately can make it so cheap that employers will -- will push people on to it, and people will be attracted to it because of cost. That doesn't mean it will work very well.

There's one other point here, Chris, that's worth making. Bill mentioned the Medicare cuts, the proposed Medicare cuts, which are designed as a way to pay for this program to the tune of nearly half a trillion dollars.

No one in their right mind who's followed Congress over the past quarter century and beyond believes such cuts will ever happen, which means that this bill is a -- for all the talk about deficit neutrality, is almost certainly not deficit neutral and will add massively to the deficit at a time when the public, for the first time in quite a while, is really very worried about the deficit.

So either way you slice that, it's a problem. If you believe the Medicare cuts are going to happen, a lot of seniors are going to rebel against that, and maybe others as well. And if you don't believe it, the people who are worried about the deficit -- and there are a lot more of them than there used to be -- will be upset as well.

WALLACE: Finally, Mara, you know, it's interesting about the public option. Maybe it's overplayed; maybe it isn't overplayed. It's also -- there's a real question of what people think of it, because the poll numbers are all over the place.

Your sense -- is the public option popular with the American people or not?

LIASSON: I think depending how you ask the question, certain polls can get an answer that shows, look, the majority of people...

WALLACE: No, but I'm asking would you -- what do you really think.

LIASSON: But I actually think that what -- all that matters is whether 60 senators want a bill with a public option in it. It doesn't really matter what a majority of Americans say to some poll.

And I think that what was so interesting this week is when Harry Reid decided on his own that the best way to get a bill through the Senate was to include a public option from the beginning so that the opponents of it, the moderate Democrats, would have to remove it by amendment on the Senate floor.

HUME: But, Mara, you don't really believe that he thought that putting the public option in was the best way to pass it. Don't you think that Harry Reid put that public option in to appease his base at a time...


HUME: ... when he's up for reelection?

LIASSON: And I -- yes, and that's what I'm trying to say. It has to die an honorable death on the Senate floor. It can't be removed in advance. Liberals have to have their kind of day in court, and if they can get 60 votes to defend it, it'll stay in. But I don't believe it can pass the Senate.

WALLACE: Well, I'm going to take a break here, because we'll be discussing this over Thanksgiving dinner. We'll be discussing it under the Christmas tree.

But coming up, we'll discuss the breaking political news in Afghanistan. And our panel handicaps this Tuesday's elections here at home. Back in a moment.


WALLACE: On this day in 1952, the U.S. tested a hydrogen bomb, the first-ever detonation of a thermonuclear weapon. The test took place in the Pacific Ocean and gave the U.S. a brief advantage over the Soviet Union in the nuclear arms race.

Stay tuned for more from our panel.



OBAMA: The difficult work of building a better future -- it has begun. It's beginning right here in New Jersey. It's begun in Washington. It's begun across America.



RUDY GIULIANI: What it means on the national stage is the same thing it does in New Jersey. It means a chance to elect a governor who will return fiscal sanity to New Jersey like we have to have returned to the country.


WALLACE: Just a taste of how the New Jersey governor's election Tuesday has become a national contest.

And we're back now with our panel.

Before we get to American politics, let's discuss the breaking news out of Afghanistan. We learned today that the challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, has dropped out of the runoff because he says he tried to get reforms made by the Karzai government in the election process to present -- to prevent the massive fraud that went on last August and that the Karzai government refused.

Brit, how much does that complicate President Obama's efforts to find a legitimate Afghan partner to work with now that there is going to be no runoff or, if there is, it's only going to be one candidate?

HUME: Well, it looks to me as if Karzai will now be tainted by this process, perhaps not as much as he was by the one before. He will be the evident winner. But a lot of people will -- will think that it was an illegitimate non-election really. So, yeah, it complicates the legitimate partner.

I would note, however, that the way the administration and its -- and its supporters seems to frame this issue now is that you have to have your legitimate partner in place and doing well before you make the commitment of troops to try to suppress the violence.

That's sort of the reverse of most counterinsurgency doctrine, which is that you suppress the violence and all these other good things can follow. So they seem to have turned it on its head. And this now gives the president another excuse, if he's looking for one, not to follow through on what General McChrystal wants.

WILLIAMS: But we've been there eight years trying to suppress the violence.

HUME: Yes, and for a long period -- and for a long time, Juan, we succeeded in suppressing the violence. The violence that...

WILLIAMS: Well, then what happened? Why is it that Karzai refuses, it seems to me, to accept basic, you know, democratic principles of a legitimate election without fraud?

Why is -- I mean, I agree with you that regardless of whether or not we have a stable government, the United States has national interests in making sure that the Taliban and Al Qaida do not take root there.

But it is a really difficult situation when you have not only political corruption, but narco corruption of the kind that...

WALLACE: OK. You know what?

WILLIAMS: ... Karzai (inaudible).

WALLACE: Afghanistan politics will be there next week. Let's talk about the U.S. election which won't be here next week.

Mara, big news, interestingly, in what we all thought of as the third race...

LIASSON: Right. Right.

WALLACE: ... in upstate New York, this special congressional election. The liberal Republican, Dade Scozzafava, in effect dropped out on Saturday, making it a race between the Democrat, Bill Owens, and the conservative, Doug Hoffman.

Now, a Democrat has not won that seat since 1852. How big is this race now for both parties?

LIASSON: Well, I think this race is big because it's the only one out there. It is a microcosm of the civil war that's occurring inside the Republican Party. I think one of the morals of the story here is primaries are good things, and there should have been one for the Republicans in that race, and there wasn't. Dede Scozzafava was kind of hand-picked by some county chairman and I think if there had been a primary, Hoffman probably would have been the nominee.

Now, the question is what lesson will Republicans nationally take from this. Certainly, I think it's going to say the right -- the grassroots right of the Republican Party has ascended and energized and has a lot of clout. But is this kind of the formula to win elections across the country?

Don't forget, in Virginia right now...

WALLACE: But you know, one of the things Democrats are going to say...


WALLACE: ... and are already saying is this shows that there is no room for moderates or liberals...


WALLACE: ... in the Republican Party.

LIASSON: Absolutely, but just...

WALLACE: You've got to be hard right.

LIASSON: ... at the same time in Virginia, you've got a Republican candidate that is running a completely different kind of race, playing down social issues -- that's Bob McDonnell -- talking about transportation, education and jobs, just the way Democrats have won races in swing districts and states in the past.

So you're going to come out of this election season with two very different models and it will be interesting to see which one the Republicans pick.

WALLACE: All right.

Bill, let's take a look at two big governors' races coming up, the first in New Jersey, and that's the incumbent Democratic governor Jon Corzine on the left, the Republican challenger Chris Christie on the right. According to all the polls, too close to call.

Then there's the Virginia governor's race between the Republican and -- on the left there, Bob McDonnell, who apparently has a double- digit lead in the polls over the Democrat, Creigh Deeds.

Bill, your sense of how those states are going to go.

KRISTOL: McDonnell will win big. The whole ticket will win big. Republicans will pick up seats in the house of delegates, maybe a substantial number. I think Christie ekes it out in New Jersey. If you look at the...

WALLACE: Really?

KRISTOL: ... internal -- if you look at the internals of the latest polls, it looks to me like the Daggett voters go a little more to Christie than to Corzine.

WALLACE: And we should point out, Chris Daggett is the independent.

KRISTOL: The independent third party candidate.

WALLACE: ... who is taking votes away from Christie, the Republican...

KRISTOL: And I think -- and Corzine...

HUME: Not in many polls, not an insignificant number of votes, either. I mean, he's a real factor in the race.

WALLACE: No, he's double digits.

KRISTOL: No, he's drifting into the single digits, and I think Corzine is so unpopular, he loses. I think Hoffman wins in New York 23, the race Mara was talking about.

Here's the big picture, though. There will be a 20-point swing, if you compare Obama's vote in 2008 to the Republican vote now, or the Democratic vote now in 2009. Obama carried New Jersey by 20 points. That's going to be close.

Obama carried Virginia by seven points. McDonnell is going to win by a dozen or so. Obama carried New York 23. That's not such an easy race. And it's complicated trying to get people to vote for a third party -- on a third party ballot. I still think Hoffman squeaks it out there. So the swing from 2008 to 2009 is huge.

WALLACE: Well, we can see -- get some idea of how the Republican -- Republicans, the RNC, is going to talk about this on Tuesday night if it goes that way.

But here's the point I want to make with you, Juan. There have been times like 1993 when Republicans won both governors' races and it previewed the big Republican revolution in ‘94.

On the other hand, in 2001, the Democrats won both of the races and then proceeded to lose seats the next year. So how much can we really read in, in terms of a national statement, into these two races, regardless of who wins? And is it just local candidates and local issues?

WILLIAMS: I think it's local candidates for the most part. I think the -- what you're really looking at here are things in New Jersey like property taxes and the like. And in fact, Chris Christie has hurt himself by going back on a pledge to cut taxes, since he doesn't know what he's going to do with taxes right now. I think that's one of the things that's going to result in Corzine doing better than what Bill just predicted.

But I think overall, this is about turnout and who's energized at this point, and you don't see minority voters, black and Hispanic voters, turning out in the way that they turned out for Barack Obama . I don't think the youth vote, again, that was so important to Barack Obama , is energized in terms of giving money.

There's a big difference between what McDonnell has in Virginia and what Creigh Deeds has been able to raise. So to me, a lot of this is -- we could look at big issues in terms of the minutia of politics, the money, the turnout, et cetera, but in terms of does it reflect on the health care debate, no. Does it reflect on anything to do with the president's ability to handle what's to come in terms of climate control or immigration, no.


HUME: When Barack Obama was elected, it was confidently asserted by many who worked with him and supported him that what had been a center right country had now become a center left country. Now, that was -- that was a dubious proposition.

But the -- there was a survey out this week from Gallup mirroring a survey Gallup took in June that showed that 40 percent of Americans define themselves as conservatives, 35 or so define themselves as moderates. Some polls have it the other way around.

But in both -- in all -- nearly all polls, liberals are down about 20 percent. If you're seen as too liberal in America these days, you're in trouble. The Democratic Party right now, I think, is seen as too liberal.

WALLACE: Thank you, panel. See you next week, and we'll have actual election returns to discuss.

And don't forget to check out the latest edition of "Panel Plus" where our group here continues the discussion on our website,, shortly after the show ends.

Up next, we hear from you.


WALLACE: Time now for some comments you posted to our blog, "Wallace Watch," and President Obama's pending decision on strategy and troop levels in Afghanistan was the prime topic.

John Pollicano (ph) sent this, "The president should follow the in-country military commander's recommendation. However, I do not find any fault with him taking a reasonable amount of time making his decision." But Priscilla Reynolds saw it differently. "President Obama is not protecting the soldiers in Afghanistan but instead has been busy with his own politics."

Please be sure to keep your comments coming to us at

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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