updated 6/21/2007 11:14:52 AM ET 2007-06-21T15:14:52

Guests: Roger Stone, Peter Fenn, Roger Cressey

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, GUEST HOST:  Michael Bloomberg is the relatively short, single, absolutely rich, politically ambiguous mayor of a city that is, for all intents and purposes, it‘s own blue state.  So, why does Michael Bloomberg‘s every move rattle the foundation of the 2008 presidential race? 

I‘m Michael Smerconish in for Tucker Carlson. 

Yesterday, Bloomberg declared his independence from the Republican party and that triggered frenzied speculation that he‘s gearing up for a run for the White House.  Today, he declared that he “intends to complete his term as New York‘s mayor,” which ends in 2009, and that he‘s not a candidate for president. 

But, take it from this lawyer, an intention and a promise are as different as New York and say, the rest of the country?  And saying that he‘s not running for president does not preclude him from running for president in the future.  So, will Michael Bloomberg run?  Should he run? 

If he runs, what other candidate should be most concerned, and would a rich, single, Jewish New Yorker stand a chance of winning? 

Here with their analysis are Democratic Strategist and Contributor to the Hill‘s Pundit‘s blog, Peter Fenn, and Republican Strategist Roger Stone. 

Roger, I note that today, everybody is saying well, who would he most injure, instead of saying, hey, can this guy win the race?

ROGER STONE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, it‘s very hard to elect an independent for president of the United States.  First of all, you have to worry about getting on the ballot in 50 states, which is extremely onerous and expensive.  And then, secondarily, you start at zero.  Bloomberg is extremely well known on the east coast, but in the rest of the country, he‘s the mayor of New York City, and they don‘t know a whole heck of a lot more. 

Frankly, I think this—I‘m glad he left the Republican party because this will clearly be a choice in November, regardless of how the parties come out and their nominees, of two liberals and a conservative, if Mike Bloomberg runs. 

SMERCONISH:  So, then let me ask Peter the conventional question: who does he most injure if he gets into this thing, meaning on the Republican side of the aisle? 

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  I tell you, I think it‘s really hard to tell ‘til you see the candidates.  But, I—I‘ll tell you one thing, if he does decide to run, if he does think that he can carry several states, this could throw the whole political process into a heck of a firestorm, because the electoral college, the way it‘s set up, as you all know, is that you have got to win a majority.  You‘ve got to win 270 votes.

If he takes a bunch of states, and wins those electoral vote, we‘re evenly divided in this country.  And you can see a scenario where this thing gets tossed into the House of Representatives where each state gets one vote. 

Now, Democrats took 18 states in 2004, that‘s all ... 

SMERCONISH:  Well, are you willing—Peter, are you willing ...

FENN:  ..and they almost won, so this could be totally bizarre if it went down the road.  The question is (ph) could he win any states.

SMERCONISH:  For a couple of political junkies, like the three of us, come on man!  It gets—it‘s like Super Bowl Sunday for football fans. 

FENN:  This is totally Super Bowl Sunday, I mean this is—look, Roger may be absolutely right that you put this on a yellow pad, and you say New York, you say Liberal, you say X Republican, of course X Democrat, who the hell knows what he is. 

But, you know, once the folks are out there, and they want to vote none of the above, and you got three quarters of the American people saying we‘re definitely on the wrong track, you got folks in the Congress and this president in the 20s in their job approval ratings.  You know, it could be a tough political environment out there. 

SMERCONISH:  And let me ask—let me ask Stoney—I don‘t think Peter answered the question as to who it hurts the most.  Are you willing to weigh in—does it hurt Hillary, does it hurt Rudy, I mean, who‘s he going to injure the most? 

STONE:  Well, on what issue—on what issue that you can think of are Mike Bloomberg and Hillary Clinton different?  What issue would that be? 

SMERCONISH:  Smoking.

STONE:  Nothing.  I‘m not sure, she hasn‘t come out very strong on that.  The point is he is from the left side of the spectrum.  He is really without party.  Peter‘s right.  There‘s a hunger in the country for something different.  There‘s a hunger against the old politics.  Washington is unpopular.  The major parties are unpopular.  The president is unpopular.  The Republican party brand is definitely damaged. 

But Mike Bloomberg‘s independent candidacy may be the single, best chance for the Republicans to retain the White House in 2008.

SMERCONISH:  But you know Roger, you and I ...

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH:  Roger, you and I have had this conversation about how we‘d like to see the Republican party become more big-tent oriented.  Doesn‘t Bloomberg fit the—the model of exactly what you and I have said the GOP needs more of?

STONE:  Not as well as Rudy Giuliani does. 

SMERCONISH:  Why not?

STONE:  Rudy Giuliani—because Rudy Giuliani is a fiscal conservative, and Mike Bloomberg is a taxer.  There‘s a substantial difference right there.  Go look at a number of the taxes and fees that Bloomberg has sought to increase since Giuliani was mayor.  There‘s a difference, there‘s a substantial difference. 

Rudy Giuliani is an economic and fiscal conservative, a social moderate, and a foreign policy hard-liner.  Mike Bloomberg is a liberal across the board.   

FENN:  Well, he is now.  That‘s his position now, but not when he was mayor of New York.  But, put all this aside ...

STONE:  He cut taxes, he cracked down on crime, is that liberal?

FENN:  ...look, if you look at the (INAUDIBLE), he raised fees, but he raised fees.  But if you look at the—if you look at the numbers right now, and again, I don‘t like these instant polls where you‘ve got Giuliani, Hillary, and Bloomberg ticket.  What happens is Hillary improves your numbers, and especially in states like Missouri, she was behind in Missouri to Giuliani.  Putting Bloomberg in that next, she‘s ahead.

Now, I don‘t put a lot of stock in that stuff, but I still think ...

STONE:  You know, my view ...

SMERCONISH:  All right, let me—Roger, quick question for you. 

STONE:  Sure.

SMERCONISH:  You get a phone call from Mike Bloomberg, and he says, Roger Stone, in your infinite wisdom, identify for me the perfect running mate.  Your answer to that question is who? 

STONE:  Probably Chuck Hagel because he needs to do something to pull him to the right.  Hagel is a solid conservative, although a vocal opponent of the war, and it would give Bloomberg somebody in the heartland.  I mean, New York City, Mike Bloomberg will do very well in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Haight-Ashbury, I mean, places that are urban.  Where in the Midwest will Mike Bloomberg do well?  Where in the south?

SMERCONISH:  And Peter—you agree that Hagel would be an ideal running mate? 

FENN:  Oh, absolutely, I think Hagel‘s a terrific running mate for him.  He‘s a maverick too, he‘s against the war, he gives him credibility for all those folks who are against the war, you know, but ...

SMERCONISH:  Pass the Doritos, this is good stuff.  Come on, are you kidding? 

STONE:  You don‘t think he‘d be good?  I think Hagel would be terrific.

SMERCONISH:  No, I think he‘d be great, I‘m—I‘m just—I‘m loving the race.  I have never been so enthused about a presidential race so far out as ‘08. 

FENN:  But I do think this.  There‘s one very important point to this.  I think Michael Bloomberg is not like our big-eared friend from 1992, Ross Perot.  He is not in this for the ego trip.  He‘s not just going to run to play around.  I mean, he‘s going to look at this very seriously, and if he‘s going to dump $500 million to $1 billion of his own money, he‘s going to think that OK, I got a chance of doing this, and he doesn‘t have that. 

SMERCONISH:  All right, we‘re going to talk about Ross Perot.  As a matter of fact, I‘m glad you mentioned his name because that‘s coming up a little later in the program. 

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is riding on top of the polls for the Republicans right now, but is that going to last or will personal problems drag him down? 

But things are even worse for Hillary Clinton because today, she was booed for the second time in two days, and this was by her own party.  She‘s the frontrunner.

You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH:  Tomorrow is another day, and that was the good news yesterday for Rudy Giuliani, for whom Tuesday was a real downer.  He woke to a new Rasmussen poll which showed him a point behind Fred Thompson.  is not even in the race for president, yet. 

His South Carolina campaign chairman was indited on federal drug trafficking charges.  Then it was reported that Giuliani was asked to resign from the Iraq Study Group last year, when he repeatedly missed meetings, at least twice, in order to give high-priced speeches. 

Also, his successor, Michael Bloomberg got a bunch of positive attention by quitting the GOP, and then, to top it all off, both the Mets and Yankees lost.  So, what‘s Rudy thinking this Wednesday, here to help me speculate, our Democratic Strategist and contributor to the “Hills” pundits blog, Peter Fenn and Republican Strategist, Roger Stone. 

Hey, Peter, let‘s begin with the cocaine charges.  Seems to me there is a guy on your side of the aisle who admitted in a book that he wrote that he himself may have done a little blow, you can‘t hold Rudy accountable for a guy in South Carolina who is associated with his campaign, can you?

FENN:  You know, to be honest, no.  I would just say, that it‘s not helpful to him, he was his chair in South Carolina, it was a voluntary job he had.  He was not paid by the campaign.  But, you know, it doesn‘t look good.  I think that the point is, it is just something else you have to deal with, something else you have to put out a press release on, something else you have to try to avoid commenting on.  So, just not a good day for him.

SMERCONISH:  Peter, maybe he deserves our praise for begging off from the Iraq Study Group?  I mean, he made the point that—when he got out and he said, you know, these other fellows are at the end of their career, none of them are running for office, and I do not want this matter to become a political football. 

FENN:  Well, I‘ll tell you, that really bothers me because the reason it appears that he did not want to be on the Iraq Study Group is he wanted to pull in $1.7 million in one month, giving speeches instead of attending meetings.  Which does not sit well with a lot of people.

But the other thing, he is supposed to be Mr. national security.  He is supposed to be the guy that talk about, over and over again, terrorism.  Well, for crying out loud, this is one avenue for having your views taken into consideration, to really do something for the country, and he begs off.  So, you know, I think ...

SMERCONISH:  Roger, what do you make of it?  Why do you think Giuliani did not want to be part of the Iraq Study Group? 

STONE:  Well, let me get this straight, Mike.  He decided not to attend meetings of a group that had no impact whatsoever on our Iraq policy.  That the administration and the Congress completely ignored when they put forward their report. 

SMERCONISH:  Well, arguably, the administration should have paid attention to it.

FENN:  Big deal.

SMERCONISH:  I tell you, I for one, wish the president had followed those recommendations. 

FENN:  Absolutely.

STONE:  This is inside baseball.  The bottom line of it is, Giuliani continues to be the front runner for his party‘s nomination.  The Rasmussen poll is very interesting, but it is an automated poll, and therefore meaning it is all computer-driven, there are no live voices, press one if you are for Giuliani, press two if you are for Fred Thompson.  As a professional I don‘t put much stock in them, frankly.  Thompson‘s expectation level, though, is getting extremely high.  If he gets in this race, and does not immediately soar in the polls, and do extremely well, he is going to have a substantial problem. 

SMERCONISH:  I agree with you.  And, Peter, you‘d have to agree that he does better the longer he stays out of the race.  Because the minute he gets into the race, all of a sudden he‘s going to go into a freefall of some kind. 

FENN:  This seems to be true of all of the Republicans in the race, Michael.  But, you know, there are two points here.  Number one, the Congress certainly did not ignore the Iraq Study Group, they pushed very hard for a lot of those recommendations.  One of the things with a re-read, which I did this last week, of that report, is boy, I wish we had done a lot of those things a lot sooner here.  We would not be in the position we are in today, but let me just comment on Giuliani.  I think Giuliani is the kind of guy, and I said this before, I believe he peaked the day he announced, and I think the more scrutiny that Rudy Giuliani comes under, the lower his poll numbers are going to be.  The question, as Roger says, is the more scrutiny that Thompson has, well, his poll numbers dropped, too.  That‘s a big, you know, that‘s a big question.

SMERCONISH:  But you know, I have to tell you, I disagree, because I think there has already been so much aired relative to Rudy and you know, some of those personal issues and I think people have heard it already.  And frankly, they don‘t care.  They want to be safe in this cycle.  I mean, what am I missing?

STONE:  I agree with that.  I think Mike is right. 

FENN:  Well, you may be right, Michael and Roger, but I‘ll tell you one thing, I think what we do, when we get into these shows and talk and talk, you know, we get involved with a very small percentage of people. 

Once the votes starts happening, once folks turn up that power on that microscope and look at these guys in a closer way, once the voters really began to balance it up, they start to bring in some of this information.  We assume folks know about it.  We assume folks are thinking about it.  They are not.  So that‘s the real question, is what happens in Iowa and New Hampshire.

SMERCONISH:  Hey, Roger, do you—are you still of the opinion, because you‘ve published on this subject, that before all is said and done, Gore is going to get into the race.  I mean we are talking about Fred Thompson, we are talking about Michael Bloomberg, but, really, you know, the 800-pound gorilla, or whenever imagery you like, is Al Gore. 

STONE:  Sure, he would clearly be the instant front runner for president. 

SMERCONISH:  But you still think he‘s getting in? 

STONE:  Well, I still think he may get in, I mean, I think a lot of it has to do with the dynamic between Hillary and Barack Obama.  If Obama does not show some substantial progress here, as the anti-war candidate, I think he creates a further opening for Former Vice President Gore, whose poll numbers are better than any candidate, in this field today. 

SMERCONISH:  Peter, do you think he gets in?  Do you think that Al Gore gets in before all is said and done?

FENN:  I wouldn‘t preclude the possibility.  I think Tipper doesn‘t want him to run.  I think he is enjoying his life, but Roger is right.  Look, if there is upheaval on our side, if folks start dropping out, if Obama is not catching on, if the negatives on Hillary don‘t come down by fall, you know, Gore may take another look at it.  And look, he has got the time.  He‘s got the luxury.  He can announce in October, November and make tracks.  But, I think ...

SMERCONISH:  I think the three of us are the only ones who are not getting into the race.  Many by the end of the hour, one of the two of you is going to throw your hat into the ring.  I don‘t know.  

What will Tony Blair do?  That‘s a question I want to get into when he finishes his term as British prime minister.  He‘s probably not going to Disney World, but he could be heading to the Middle East as special envoy, or will the former U.S. president get that job instead?

Plus, Hillary Clinton picks her presidential campaign song, Soprano style.  It‘s “You and I,” by Celine Dion, good choice?  Well, the Canadians probably think so.  You‘re watching TUCKER on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH:  While Tony Blair is busy packing up his office, President Bush is making plans for the British prime minister‘s next move.  Bush has his eye on Blair for the role of Middle East peace envoy.  The two have talked about it, but White House says there is nothing to announce just yet. 

Back with their diplomatic insights are Democratic Strategist and Contributor to the “Hills” pundits blog, Peter Fenn and Republican Strategist, Roger Stone. 

Roger, you buying this?  The idea that the president would turn to Tony Blair? 

STONE:  Well, it would be a very dangerous move for Blair, because if

he took the assignment on, and there was no progress, his public standing

would continue to plummet.  He has, as you know, lost a great deal of

credibility in the UK as it is.  I do not think the answer is in a special

envoy.   I think the answer is in a more gradual response, and the American

people have figured out that the war against al Qaeda is more important

than the war in Iraq, and I think the president has to face up to

SMERCONISH:  Take off your partisan hat for a just moment, Rodge, and tell me who you would see in the role of Middle East envoy?  Bill Clinton or Tony Blair? 

STONE:  I would actually rather see Bill Clinton.  I think he is a little slicker. 

SMERCONISH:  And that‘s what you need? 

STONE:  Yes, I think so. 

SMERCONISH:  I agree with you.

STONE:  This is a fight that‘s been going on for 2,000 years, if anyone can solve it, Clinton can.

SMERCONISH:  If Donald Segretti were around, we‘d be tapping him, but

STONE:  I have got to be honest with you.  In all honesty, I would send neither one of them.  I would send Donald Trump if I wanted the matter solved.  He would make a deal. 

SMERCONISH:  Yes, or somebody would get fired, that we know.  Peter, do you want in on this? 

FENN:  Yes, sure.  Aside from Howie what‘s-his-name, you know, “Deal or No Deal,” no—I think actually, I have another idea.  Which is, look, I think George Bush the first and Bill Clinton are doing so well together, traveling the world and giving commencement speeches, you know, you can have a joint envoy operation with the two of them. 

No.  But I do think that Blair probably is not the right guy.  I think especially given the Iraq situation, his credibility there is—you know, it would be severely tested.  And I think this is—we have got a problem there that the six years of ignoring Middle East policy, has hurt us.  I am not sure we have a whole heck of a lot of credibility right now in the region anyway. 

SMERCONISH:  Hey, Peter, if you are advising Hillary Clinton, what counsel do you give her in terms of characterizing Bill‘s role, relative to a Hillary Clinton presidency? 

FENN:  You know, I think this is a very interesting question.  As everybody knows, he is the most brilliant political strategic mind in the country, probably, I mean that sounds like an unbelievable statement but I  hate to say it, I think it is true.  So, you know, in terms of his advice, and council and approach, he‘s—there is no one who can beat him. 

Secondly, out there on the stump, you know, there are very few people who can beat him.  The trick with her, and I think she is handling it pretty well, is to bring him in at critical times.  Bring him in a way that he does not upstage her.  We‘ll see what happens in Iowa, the two of them are going out this next couple of weeks in Iowa.

SMERCONISH:  Roger, let me ask you, pun intended, do you market that as a two-for? 

STONE:  No, actually I think it is a huge mistake.  I think his presence, anywhere, at any time diminishes her substantially.  The fact that he has had to go to—in the civil rights matter in Selma, in essence to bail her out.  So that Barack Obama did not get a larger crowd, diminishes her. 

And as for being the most brilliant political strategist, never got 50 percent of the vote.  No Ross Perot?  No Bill Clinton.

SMERCONISH:  But who is better on the stump?  And I think that he ...

STONE:  He‘s a good campaigner.

SMERCONISH:  Yes, but he brings to the table what she lacks, out there in ...

STONE:  Yes, but he‘s not running.  The problem, Mike, is he‘s not running.  If he was running, he could sweep the Iowa caucus‘ and the New Hampshire primary.  He‘s not running and she‘s not him and she never will be.

SMERCONISH:  Right, but I think ...

STONE:  His presence only diminishes her.

SMERCONISH:  I think there is an argument to be made if I were advising the two of them, and clearly I‘m not, to just bring it above board and say, yes, this is what you get, you get both of us. 

STONE:  They tried that when he ran.  They said two for one.  

SMERCONISH:  Yes, but things have changed.

STONE:  When he ran.

SMERCONISH:  Peter do you agree?

FENN:  Well, look, I think you have got to be careful with this.  I totally agree.  But I think you had to be careful over generalized—look, had Al Gore, and a lot of us pushed pretty hard on this, had Al Gore let Clinton be Clinton the last couple of weeks of that campaign in Tennessee and Arkansas and other places, I tell you, we would have had a different result in that campaign. 

You know, there was concern about letting Clinton out on that stump. 

I would have put him out there ....

STONE:  The undecideds in that race ...

FENN:  ... in Miami.  He would have done great in Miami for ...

STONE:  Peter, in all honesty, the undecideds in that race, had an unfavorable view of Bill Clinton.

FENN:  But ...

STONE:  Putting him on the stump would not have elected Al Gore. 

FENN:  No, but Roger,

STONE:  Al Gore lost. 

FENN:  No, no, no.

SMERCONISH:  Hey, men, I‘ve got to take a break.

FENN:  Let me just make this point though.

SMERCONISH:  There is more to come.  What do Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi have in common?  Besides both being strong females in the Democratic party?  And believe me, this connection is nothing to cheer about.

Plus, Newt Gingrich tries to link 9˜2D11 to the immigration battle.  Now the last time someone made a similar connection, it turned out to be wrong.  I sure hope this potential presidential candidate is checking all his facts.  You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH:  Still to come, Hillary Clinton is booed by her own party for a second day in a row.  If her own party doesn‘t even support her?  How is she still running up front?  We will get to that in just a moment, but first, here is a look at your headlines. 

(MARKET REPORT)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  The American military has succeeded.  It is the Iraqi government which has failed to make the tough decisions that are important for their own people. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH:  That was the chilly reception for Hillary Clinton this morning at the Take America Back 2007 Convention when she spoke of the successes of the American military in Iraq, not of the current mission, mind you, or the way forward, just of the great work of our troops.  Hillary clearly has public perception challenges.  And by now you are surely aware of her latest attempt to overcome those challenges; the Clinton campaign declared its official song with a Sopranos spoof.  And ultimately, the choice, Celine Dion‘s “You and I.”

Forget what a lame choice that it is.  Forget that Celine is from Canada.  The question is, when did it become necessary for campaigns to have songs?  And why are they generally so terrible?  Here to discuss that and more, Democratic strategist and contributor to “The Hill‘s” pundits blog Peter Fenn and Republican strategist Roger Stone. 

Hey Roger, Hillary gets booed by a roomful of liberals, not necessarily a bad thing for her candidacy. 

STONE:  Well, she has now taken her ninth position on the war in Iraq.  The problem is this hasn‘t worked out the way it was supposed to for Bill and Hill.  There wasn‘t supposed to be any Barack Obama and there wasn‘t supposed to be any real challenge from the left.  Hillary‘s married to this war.  She can try to move away from it as much as she likes.  She‘s not going to be the anti-war candidate in the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary.  And that‘s a real problem in a party that is overwhelmingly opposed to this war that she helped get us in. 

SMERCONISH:  Yes, but my point is a little different.  Here is a group that was being a hospitable audience for the likes of Michael More.  I mean, in middle America, sitting in front of a television tonight, seeing Hillary getting booed by a crowd like that; I don‘t think it necessarily --  

STONE:  She has problems.  She has problems with the far left of her party.  It‘s a very real problem.

SMERCONISH:  Peter, you see where I‘m going with this?

FENN:  Michael, I sure do.  Look, first of all, she got cheered for a lot of her domestic policy by that crowd.  And there were also people cheering when there were people booing.  But look, here‘s what you want to do in this country: you want to capture the middle.  You want to win in a general election.  The political landscape is full of folks that fell on their sword on the right and the left. 

And this is not going to hurt her down the road.  First of all, nine out of the ten Republican candidates are pro-war candidates.  Ron Paul the only one in those debates.  All of the Democratic party candidates are anti-war candidates.  They are going to argue about who is more anti-war than the other, but the basic point here is—for Roger is, watch out if Iraq is the issue come next year, because the Republicans are on the wrong side of this one, and the Democrats, all of them, are on the right side. 

SMERCONISH:  Hey fellas, I made reference to Newt a couple of minutes ago.  He‘s making some noises on the sidelines.  And now, I think he is wrong, based on what I read today, but he is tried to link illegal immigration with the events of September 11th.  I think there‘s an argument for national security, in terms of strengthening and closing our porous borders.  I guess my question is, we are talking about Fred Thompson.  Is Newt getting into this thing?  Roger, you first.

STONE:  He may be, but I think he is challenged as a candidate.  He has very high negatives.  Newt is an idea guy.  He is interesting.  And in the end, he would probably peal some votes from Mitt Romney.  But I just don‘t see him as a viable presidential candidate. 

SMERCONISH:  All right, here is what we are going to do.  I hope you have your buzzers ready.  I am going to give to you a campaign song, and your mission, Peter Fenn, Roger Stone, is to weigh in quickly.  Let me know you have the answer.  You tell me who‘s campaign theme song.  You ready to go?  Here is the first cut.  You tell me whose campaign song. 

FENN:  Bill Clinton.  That was my suggestion, bring it back for Hillary.  I loved it in 1992.  It worked great. 

SMERCONISH:  I agree with you.  And it was 1992 and 1996, I think. 

Hey Stony, you don‘t listen to the car radio down there in Florida?

STONE:  I got it.  Bill Clinton.

FENN:  He got it. 

SMERCONISH:  Here is the second.  And be wary, it is a bit of a trick question.  Roll it.  Anybody?

FENN:  We know the song.  Did some presidential candidate use that one?  Maybe Al Gore.  I don‘t know.

STONE:  If I recall, George W. Bush used this until Springsteen asked him to stop.

SMERCONISH:  Close, it was Ronald Wilson Reagan who wanted it, and Springsteen then—I give you a partial credit, Roger, because you are right, in terms of the Boss then saying you can‘t use my song.  All right, this one is a layup.  Here we go.

STONE:  He‘ll never be Bob Dylan anyway.

SMERCONISH:  Play it.   

Somebody, anybody, Mr. Bueller.

STONE:  Ross Perot. 

SMERCONISH:  Ross Perot.  Roger Stone, you win.  1992.

STONE:  And he was crazy.

SMERCONISH:  I liked him until he concocted that bit about Bush 41 trying to disrupt his daughter‘s wedding or throw a piece of wedding cake or something.  What the hell was that?  

FENN:  Bizarre. 

SMERCONISH:  And I am reading a lot today about people saying, well, you know, look at Bloomberg.  Perot got 19 percent of the vote.  But he did not get a single electoral vote. 

STONE:  I can‘t see Bloomberg running to try to pick a few states, to throw this into the House of Representatives.  If Mike Bloomberg runs, he is going to run because he thinks he can be elected president and he thinks he can do something about the country.  The other thing you can be sure of is that if he does run, he will run a much more competent and a much more message-focused campaign than Ross Perot, who ran one of the worst campaigns in history and still got a lot of votes. 

SMERCONISH:  Right, but the question remains, what will Bloomberg‘s song be?  After all, this is the song portion of the program.

FENN:  It certainly won‘t be “I Love New York.”  “New York, New York,” I don‘t think so.

SMERCONISH:  Peter, where did this come from, seriously, the notion that you need a campaign theme song? 

FENN:  There is a cassette of campaign theme songs going all the way back to the 19th century.  Most of them, however, were written for campaigns.  If you listen to the Kennedy song, for example, from 1960, it is horrible.  I mean, most of these songs were horrible.  And then, suddenly, we got into this, OK, we‘re going to take a real song that‘s out in popular culture and use it.  And that, really, I think, started in the 1980‘s. 

SMERCONISH:  I have to tell you something -- 

STONE:  Well, not really.  If you think about it, Franklin Roosevelt sang “Happy Days Are Here Again,” which was a popular song not of his invention.  It was really the first popular use.

SMERCONISH:  I got to tell you both, I got a kick out of the whole Sopranos thing.  I know my GOP talking points tell me that I‘m supposed to say, well the Clintons are mobbed up and that‘s why they did.  I just through it was funny as hell.  I loved it.  And it shows me a side of the two of them that if I see more of I will be even more favorably disposed towards the two of them. 

FENN:  I loved the carrots.

STONE:  You expect it from Bill Clinton, because he speaks from the heart.  You do not expected from Hillary, because she speaks from an index card. 

(CROSS TALK)

SMERCONISH:  Roger, you know this, because you have done it effectively in campaigns, humor works.  People love levity.  People love self-deprecation.  To see the two of them in there and to see, you know, Johnny Sack, Vince Curatola, staring them down, it is funny. 

STONE:  It was definitely a plus. 

SMERCONISH:  I agree with you.  Good stuff from my two guests, Peter Fenn and Roger Stone.  Thank you so much.  I appreciate you being here.  

And now to something which back in Philly I‘ve been yelling at my own TV set.  And now I finally get to say it through yours.  It would seem that closure has almost been reached in Durham, North Carolina, which is a good thing.  On Monday, Duke University announced a settlement with Dave Evans, with Collin Finnerty, with Reade Seligmann, the lacrosse players found innocent of raping an exotic dancer, and who were then drummed out of the university while being prosecuted.

Then, on Tuesday, a sheriff literally drove to former District Attorney Mike Nifong‘s house and took his keys to the county courthouse.  And that is more good news.  And it came on the heels of a disciplinary panel‘s conclusion that Nifong should be disbarred for the ethics violations and the misconduct that he committed in his quest for justice.

Again, this is all good stuff so far.  And that‘s not all.  In a show of apparently new found attention to detail, Duke University even reached a settlement with another lacrosse player who complained that he received a bad grade because of his association with the lacrosse team.  It would sound, from all of those settlements, and from all of those mea culpas, and all those redeemed IOUs, that Duke and Durham are making an effort to find closure more than a year after an exotic dancer cried wolf in earshot of an entire country. 

But something is missing and no one is talking about it, that is until now.  Mike Nifong is getting what he deserves.  But these charges did not initiate with him.  They began with a now discredited accuser.  And she too bears responsibility for the embarrassment this case became.  Crystal Gail Mangum is the woman whose bogus claims ignited a fiasco.  And that is why, no matter how many settlements occur in the aftermath of this case, there will be no real closure, no restoring of confidence in the judicial system, until Crystal Gail Mangum gets a taste of what her erroneous claims put those three men through. 

She needs to return to court, not as the victim, but in the role of perpetrator.  Crystal Gail Mangum manipulated a university, a town and much of an entire country.  And most importantly, she made it difficult for real rape victims to get justice.  And as long as she is free to walk, to run, to dance, to strip, or to take another cop‘s car for a joy ride, there is no such thing as a just ending to what occurred in at Durham. 

If the U.S. military had a chance to take out Osama bin Laden, but he was surrounded by a bunch of schoolchildren, would the U.S. take that shot despite the real possibility of civilian ties and casualties? 

Plus, free admission to see some of the world‘s most prized art work. 

Where?  Well, stick around and we‘ll tell you. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH:  It has been nearly six years since the attacks of September 11, and intense battles continue in Afghanistan between the U.S.  and al Qaeda.  Special operations forces are on the offensive to suffocate the terrorist organization.  As in most military campaigns, civilian casualties are sometimes a price of battle.  But in a recent quest to kill one of Osama bin Laden‘s top lieutenants, the military took out his compound, even though they knew children were inside. 

Military officials say the target was worth the potential collateral damage.  Seven children were killed.  It has not been confirmed yet whether the intended, Abu Laith al Libbi, is among the dead.  Is this the price of defeating America‘s top enemy?  Joining me now to discuss what impact this could have on fighting al Qaeda is Roger Cressey, who served as a director of the National Security Council staff and was responsible for implementing U.S. counter-terrorism policy.  He is also an NBC News terrorism analyst. 

Roger, what are the rules of engagement in a scenario like this? 

ROGER CRESSEY, NBC NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST:  Michael, it is the ultimate difficult call.  I think the U.S. military does everything it can to minimize civilian casualties, especially children.  But if they have rock solid intelligence and a true high-value target, like Abu Laith al Libbi was, then, in that case, you have to make the tough call.  And I think in this case, they did the right thing, as difficult as it was. 

SMERCONISH:  How high on the food chain in the military does a decision such as this reach? 

CRESSEY:  Well, actually, it is very tactical in one sense.  I mean, if there is a target of opportunity, even one like Abu Lath, who reportedly they followed for some time, it is the regional commander and the guys on the ground that are going to make that call.  That is not going to come all the way back to Washington. 

All military forces have standard rules of engagement for how to deal with the enemy.  And so, on a case by case basis, depending on the scenario, they may have to go up the chain to seek additional guidance.  But their ROE is pretty clear cut though.

SMERCONISH:  I have got to tell you, I grieve for seven children who die in any context, but my loyalties lie with the kids of those who are dead as a result of what took place Ground Zero and are now growing up without a parent in the household.  So there‘s my balancing test.  I‘m not sure what the military‘s is.  I guess it‘s something similar, although a little bit more fancy. 

CRESSEY:  Well, it is always difficult to draw those comparisons, I think.  The bigger issue is we are in the middle of a war in Afghanistan, and we‘re fighting a very ruthless and deadly enemy.  The United States does everything it can to minimize civilian casualties.  We have been doing this for years now.  Our technology is the best in the world.  And one of the great benefits of it is that it does minimize collateral damage.  But there will be cases where it is a quintessential trade-off between do you take out a high-value target like this, and suffer the potential propaganda defeat that the Taliban and al Qaeda can then lay on the United States?

Or do you let the target go and deal with the consequences down the road? 

SMERCONISH:  Hey Roger, related subject, this occurred in Afghanistan.  I keep waiting for there to be national dialogue, meaning among the presidential candidates, about our position vis-a-vis Pakistan.  You know, this notion, I believe we have outsourced the hunt for bin Laden and I‘m not afraid to say so.  I say it all the time.  I wish there would be some conversation as to whether that is the right move.  Shouldn‘t we be doing something relative to northern Waziristan, assuming that bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri are located there? 

CRESSEY:  Michael, you hit the nail on the head in one sense. 

Pakistan is one of the toughest issues when it comes to the war on terror.  And we‘re really not talking about it in the presidential campaign.  There is one school of thought that says we cannot push Musharraf too far.  It destabilizes him and a radical Islamist comes into power to replace him.  I do not think that is the case. 

I think the Pakistani military will choose his successor.  We will see pretty much the same course.  But we need to have a very discreet and in-depth discussion of how to deal with Pakistan.  Because if there is another 9/11, Michael, the first that we are going to do is intervene militarily in Waziristan. 

SMERCONISH:  Roger, it‘s shocking to me—and I am thrilled to hear your view.  We are approaching the six year anniversary of September 11th.  No one talks about bin Laden.  We‘re involved in so many distractions right now.  Do you know that, by my count, in the presidential debates, all of them, ours and D‘s so far, there has been one question posed relative to Pakistan, and it was presented by an audience member, not even a panelist. 

I wish somebody would stand up and say, what are you going to do to go find bin Laden, presuming that he is hiding in Pakistan. 

CRESSEY:  It is absolutely stunning.  As serious and important as Iraq is, and from my perspective, Iraq had nothing to do with the threat we faced from al Qaeda—things have changed greatly since 2003, when we invaded Iraq.  But Pakistan and Afghanistan are critical to this broader fight against al Qaeda and the global jihadists movement.  And we are not dealing with it right now in a significant way. 

SMERCONISH:  Yes, and I, for one, am just no longer satisfied in hearing the administration response, which says, you know, the search is underway in earnest, and we are going to bring him to justice.  I think that after six years, we have the right to say, wait a minute, what exactly are we doing to find him?  To the extent that right now Musharraf has reached an accord with the war lords in Northern Waziristan—by the way, I kind of apologize for taking you off on a tangent.  But not really, because this is important stuff, and I get a national platform for a couple of days.

But why in the world isn‘t somebody saying, hold on Mr. President.  Tell us specifically if there‘s been this accord reached between the warlords and Musharraf, where they are not going to blank with one another, then what are we doing?  And why don‘t go in there and do something about it? 

CRESSEY:  Well, Michael, because we have hit a bit of a brick wall on this.  We‘re now reduced to really luck and timing in the opportunity to go after bin Laden or Zawahiri.  The real issue is this: al Qaeda has reestablished operational control, not just through terrorist movements throughout the world, but through operational cells.  The attacks in London a couple years ago, and the most recently foiled attack last year, directly went back to Pakistan.  And, it‘s believed, went back to senior elements within al Qaeda‘s leadership.

So we‘ve got to stop and think that if there is a successful attack against the United States, and it does tie back to Pakistan, what would we have wanted to have done before that attack that now we will be forced to do in the aftermath of a series of dead Americans? 

SMERCONISH:  I totally get what you are saying.  And I acknowledge that perhaps today bin Laden is an irrelevance, relative to what goes on in the future.  But even assuming that he has been sort of put out to pasture, the fact that he is presumably alive somewhere—here‘s what I want.  I want Pat Tillman like heroes wearing Burkas and combing that rugged terrain, and paying off warlords, and cutting deals, and doing whatever it takes to find him and to him.  That is all. 

CRESSEY:  I think the CIA and particularly U.S. special forces are operating very aggressively, but within confines of the rules that have been set for them, some of which is U.S. policy, some of which is the reality on the ground, in dealing with a very complicated problem in Waziristan and with Pakistan at large. 

The question again is, in the aftermath of another attack, what would we have wished we would have done to try and prevent that attack?  I think that‘s where you‘ve got to start from.

SMERCONISH:  All right, good stuff.  Thank you for being here.  I appreciate it.

CRESSEY:  OK Michael.

SMERCONISH:  The stork always delivers the baby, right?  Well, the tables were turned for this stork when she delivered one of her very own.  We‘ll bring you the details when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH:  Let‘s see, Bloomberg, Giuliani, Clinton, al Qaeda, we have covered it all today.  Well, almost.  Here with what we missed is MSNBC‘s vice president of prime-time programming, Bill Wolff.  Mr. Wolff?

BILL WOLFF, VICE PRESIDENT OF MSNBC:  Mr. Smerconish, you know, you and I are similar in so many ways.  But in one way we are different.  You have got a national platform for a few days.  You wanted to talk about Zawiristan (sic) and the war on terror.  Willy Geist had a kid, so I got a national platform.  I am talking about stork babies. 

SMERCONISH:  Nice.

WOLFF:  Unless I‘ve been badly misinformed, Michael, scientists have long known that human babies come from storks, who fly into hospitals and drop them off.  But where do baby storks come from?  Also from storks as it turns out.  For the first time in 43 years, an oriental white stork was hatched naturally from its egg in Japan.  Experts say that the baby stork appears to be healthy, and if things go right, it will fly away from its nest in about a month, making its mother an empty nesters with plenty of time to enjoy the rest of her life. 

As for the baby stork‘s father, both Howard K. Stern and Larry Birkhead say the stork is theirs.  Judge Larry Seidlin expected to give his ruling sometime before he starts his TV career. 

SMERCONISH:  Hey Bill, I hate to interrupt, I think it is Asian stork. 

I don‘t think you can say that anymore.

WOLFF:  I think in the world of the politically correct, you are correct.  However, according to NBC News wires, I am correct.  You know what, NBC News wires, never wrong.  The seven wonders of the world, Michael, apparently need refreshing.  And the president of Chile wants in.  President Michelle Bachelet has launched a campaign to have the statues on Easter Island included in the new seven wonders of the world, which will be determined by a worldwide vote and announced in July in Lisbon, Portugal. 

Easter Island and its famous and mysterious ancient statues are property of Chile, as it turns out.  Also considered front runners are the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal and Rio de Janeiro‘s Christ the Redeemer statue.  Now, there are some dark horse candidates with a real shot.  They include, the wondrously delicious Philly cheese steak, the wondrously vigorous 48 year old New York Met Julio Franco—he‘s 48 and still plays baseball—and, of course, the enduring fame of Paris Hilton, which is nothing if not a wonder. 

My money is on the cheese steak, by the way.  I would just like to say, for the record, I am not from Philadelphia, but the greatest thing you can taste is a Philly cheese steak. 

SMERCONISH:  Amen to that.  I will be headed there after I leave here.

WOLFF:  I am simply pandering at this point. 

SMERCONISH:  Thank you.  I appreciate that.

WOLFF:  The British National Gallery is doing its part to make the city of London more wondrous itself.  The gallery has mounted 300 famous paintings around the city for observational pleasure of ordinary passers-by.  Works include masterpieces of Van Gogh, Monet and Rembrandt, but thieves are advised that the pieces are replicas of the real stuff, which remains heavily guarded at the National Gallery.  The public exhibit lasts 12 weeks, and I guess that is one way of enriching people‘s lives. 

Now, here in New York, the locals do not rely on some institution, some stuffy institution for our outdoor decorations, relying instead, as you see, on the artistic renderings of our own people.  Just a different way of achieving the same end, really. 

SMERCONISH:  Really good stuff.  I love that.  I think I have a few of those at my house.  I meant the latter, American-style, in my kids‘ rooms.  They‘re handy in that way. 

SMERCONISH:  Yes, come by my house downtown sometime.  I‘ll show you some things.  My lord.

SMERCONISH:  Hey, that is good news for Willie Geist.  That is kind of cool. 

WOLFF:  Yes, absolutely.  And this breaking news from France.  This is a true story.  The government of France has banned blackberries by use from officials in its ministries, fearing that French state secrets will be released if they --  Hold on just a second.  Sorry, Michael, just got an incoming blackberry, I have to answer it.  But it has been a real pleasure.  I‘ll talk to you in a while.   

SMERCONISH:  Thank you Bill.  That does it for us.  And thanks for watching.  Up next, it is “HARDBALL,” with another Philly guy.  Here comes Chris Matthews. 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Transcripts

Watch Tucker each weeknight at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,