updated 8/15/2007 11:30:28 AM ET 2007-08-15T15:30:28

Guests: Ed Rogers, Bill Press, A.B. Stoddard

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC HOST:  Karl Rove is departing the White House, but the debate has just begun about his legacy.  He was the architect of two national victories for President Bush but he and the president also presided over the Republican loss of Congress last fall and the GOP is today a house divided.

It‘s brand name tarnished more than it has been in decades.  The Reagan Democrats have departed.  And the GOP faces an uphill fight to hold on to its present strength on Capitol Hill and the White House.  Rove is now a free man politically.  Will his next move be to one of the GOP presidential campaigns or will it be to testify under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee?

Joining me now to discuss Rove‘s legacy is Ed Rogers, former deputy assistant to President George H.W. Bush.  Ed also worked in the police cal office of Ronald Reagan‘s White House.  Ed, thanks for coming on.

ED ROGERS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR:  Happy to be here.

BUCHANAN:  Appreciate it.  Let me ask you, dead on, what‘s Rove‘s legacy?

ROGERS:  Rove‘s legacy is two successful presidential campaigns, two Super Bowl rings in the political universe.  And that‘s a great legacy to have.

BUCHANAN:  And two victories in Texas statewide

ROGERS:  Yeah and some playoffs victories before that.  By any standard, Karl Rove has been one of the most successful political operatives in the last 100 years.

BUCHANAN:  I do think you are right about him being in the hall of fame as a political advisor, no doubt about it.  A lot of folks I think belong there.  Maybe Hamilton Jordan and those folks for putting one president in and he did it twice.

But at the same time, Ed, take a look at the president‘s victories.  Richard Nixon‘s re-election, 49 states, Ronald Reagan‘s 49 states, Bush‘s victory, 31 states, a change of 60,000 votes in Ohio and he would have lost.  Why?

ROGERS:  Well, a win is a win.  So I don‘t care to go back and dissect either the Florida election in 2000 or the Ohio election of 2004.  But Bush won.  He was president.  Karl Rove is in charge.  He was the architect.  And let‘s give him credit for at least that.  He‘s a big one.

BUCHANAN:  I do give him credit.  But what I am getting at is this, the Reagan and Nixon coalition are gone.  It is a very even country now.  And the president barely won election and barely won re-election.  Who is responsible for the fact that we no longer have that new majority we used to have?

ROGERS:  Maybe it‘s a product of just the historical tides.  In American politics, what‘s supposed to happen tends to happen.  And the second term of a mid-term election of the second term of a president, you use a lot of seats.  And the Republicans did.

But let‘s face it, what has happened to the Bush presidency that has put it in the ditch is the war in Iraq.  Karl Rove didn‘t have anything to do with that.

BUCHANAN:  All right.  Did Karl Rove have anything to do—he certainly did, I would think, with the immigration policy of President Bush, the outreach to Hispanics .

ROGERS:  Of course he did.

BUCHANAN:  Amnesty for illegals which tore the party apart.  It sank McCain‘s candidacy if anything did, not the war, and it has got the president‘s whole coalition at war with each other.  Except, if there is any unity in the part, it is against the president and Rove on this.

ROGERS:  Well, of course.  Karl had a lot to do with the president‘s domestic agenda.  Having said that, it was over shadowed by the events in Iraq.  Who knows what would have been if not for the cloud of Iraq.  But, and I think it is to quick to count out McCain.  Your right about where the Republican Party is on immigration.  You are going to see that escalate in the Republican primaries that Karl is not going to be any part of.

But yeah, immigration is a big debate.  The president handled it poorly.  A lot of his domestic agenda is intact and is successful.  And Karl can accept both blame and responsibility for that.

BUCHANAN:  All right.  Well, let me ask you first.  Do you think the president was right to go for what is called amnesty, the path to citizenship for 12 to 20 million illegals and wasn‘t that a disaster for both him and his party?  Because it‘s left it divided.  And do you think they made the right decisions in going for that?

ROGERS:  Well, by any standard, they didn‘t make the right decision because it was a big defeat.  Both with the Social Security initiative and with the immigration initiative, they went too quick.  They didn‘t have a base in Congress.  They didn‘t have a base among the governors.  They didn‘t have a coordinated plan of attack within the base of the party in which to build on.

And so yeah, by any standard, the immigration initiative, the immigration bill was a net loss.  It was a mistake.  But it‘s done.

BUCHANAN:  All right.  The president is down at 29 percent.  Social Security .

ROGERS:  Give or take.

BUCHANAN:  All right.  We‘ll give you a couple points on that.  But in those two things, Social Security, immigration, and the war, of course, had a lot to do with it.  Rove had nothing to do with it.  The war is not his responsibility.  Let me ask you, is the charge of big government conservative?  No Child Left Behind, doubling the Department of Education, the size of it, something Ronald Reagan said should be shut down, was that a mistake?  And was that contrary to Republican philosophy and was that not partly responsible for the lassitude, if you will, among Republicans last fall?

ROGERS:  President Bush was not a conservative in the Pat Buchanan.  He was a conservative in that government was here to stay, it had to work right.  We weren‘t going to dismantle those things.  We were going to make them work better and work smarter.  No Child Left Behind has done that.  And to the degree the Education Department at the federal level has played a positive role in enforcing No Child Left Behind, it has been a good part of Bush‘s legacy and an important part of his legacy that he‘ll ultimately get credit for.

BUCHANAN:  All right.  Ed, we have got something called unfunded liabilities out there, one of them Social Security is a disaster in that sense.  But Medicare is so far out of balance.  We are talking tens of trillions of dollars out of balance.  Whether you like it or not, and a lot of folks benefit from it, the prescription drug benefit, wasn‘t that a bridge too far for a government which is really headed almost for the rocks in terms of its unfunded liabilities?

ROGERS:  I don‘t think the prescription drug benefit was a bridge too far.  I think the ignoring of Medicare and Medicaid as an out year problem is a huge problem, as is Social Security.  We are headed for financial ruin.  If anything, it‘s gotten more politics for the mathematically illiterate these days.

And hopefully, the next campaign is going to take that up and with cooperation from the media they are going to inject some reality into our financial and economic debate.  And yeah, Bush didn‘t do that.  But the problem isn‘t the prescription drug benefit that he did initiate.  The problem is the underlying Medicare and Medicaid claims that are in the pipeline.

BUCHANAN:  OK.  Karl Rove, two Super Bowl rings in the Hall of Fame, right?

ROGERS:  At least.  At least.

BUCHANAN:  OK.  Ed, thanks very much.

ROGERS:  Happy to be here.

BUCHANAN:  OK.  Karl Rove isn‘t out the door just yet but he is already making some predictions for 2008.  Plus Rudy Giuliani says if he is elected president, he will put an end to illegal immigration.  Is Rudy the latest convert to the Tom Tancredo caucus.  You are watching MSNBC, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BUCHANAN:  He is not even out of the White House yet and Karl Rove is already making bold predictions about things, President Bush‘s approval righting among them.  He says it will shoot up to almost 40 percent.  Rove also expects the Democrats to nominate a quote, “tough, tenacious, fatally flawed candidate” by the name of Hillary Clinton.  Could Rove be more dangerous to the Democrats, especially those with their eyes on the Oval Office from outside the White House?

Joining me now with their thoughts are associate editor of “The Hill”, A.B. Stoddard and nationally syndicated radio talk show host and former co-star of Buchanan-Press, Bill Press.  The strong half of an unevenly matched team.

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Patrick, good to see you.

BUCHANAN:  Good to see you.

Let me ask you, Hillary—It doesn‘t take too much nerve to say Hillary is probably going to get the nomination.  But what do you think?

PRESS:  Listen, we have heard Rove‘s predictions before.  In 2006, he said, when everybody said Democrats are going to take control of the Congress.  He said, no, I have sole access to the map in 2000.  You and I were up there with John McCain.  He said, about George Bush, we are going to win New Hampshire.  So I don‘t pay any attention to Karl Rove‘s predictions for 2008.

BUCHANAN:  What about his legacy?  What about his legacy?  You agree with that, two Super Bowl rings, he belongs in the Hall of Fame?  Four elections in 10 years, to in the biggest state in the union, just about and two for the presidency?  Won all four.

PRESS:  Just a quick second.  I think you have to give him credit for those victories.  And he made George Bush governor of Texas and president of the United States.  But his long-range goal, which is often stated, to be the next William McKinley and to transform American politics so that the Republican Party would be in the ascendancy and in control for our lifetime and beyond, he is a total failure at that.

BUCHANAN:  Well, they seem to have failed at that.  There is no doubt about it, A.B., but I tend to agree with Ed Rogers.  I think Nixon and FDR put together these great coalitions and they tend to break apart and fray and come apart.  Republicans controlled the White House 20 of 24 years.  Bill Clinton found a way to win.  Then they got it back barely.  I think both coalitions have collapsed.  Don‘t you?

A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”:  I do.  I think there is a different influence of the independent.  It swings back and forth.  The Iraq War is going to have a huge impact on the independent vote.  It did in 2006.  It will again in 2008.  And the coalitions that make up the majorities are changing.

But for Karl Rove‘s legacy, you have to finish up strong.  And as Ed Rogers said, a win is a win but a loss is a loss.  When you end up losing both houses of Congress, it is a result of either gross miscalculation .

BUCHANAN:  Ronald Reagan, we lost the Senate.  I was with him in 1986.  We lost about 10 senators.  It was a bad year, just a down period.  But Reagan is considered a great, triumphant political success.  And one reason is because George Bush succeeded him.

STODDARD:  He finished up strong.

BUCHANAN:  All right.  Well, suppose the Republicans win the White House again?

STODDARD:  You know, I think his comments about .

BUCHANAN:  Is that beyond the pale?

STODDARD:  It would be hard today on August 14th of 2007 to place a bet on that.  But it is entirely possible.  Anything could happen.  I this I the Democrats are going to have a lot of uphill challenges in the months to come.  I really do.

PRESS:  I also think he has tarnished the conservative legacy too. 

Who am I to speak of the conservative legacy?

BUCHANAN:  You were always admiring of it before.

PRESS:  But put it this way.  There are a lot of parts of it I do admire but when you look at smaller government or fiscal responsibility or probity and morality in public office, the conservatives have taken some pretty big hits.

And again, Karl Rove, Bush calls him the architect.  So you have to lay, I think, a lot of the missteps of the Bush administration at his feet.

BUCHANAN:  No doubt the Republicans, some of the guys in that building there have disgraced themselves.  No doubt about it.  And the Republicans did a horrible job.  Abramoff and all that sludge in there.  But for probity, the president of the United States, there has been no taint of scandal about him, personally, none.

PRESS:  That‘s true.

STODDARD:  That‘s true.  You also need to rack up accomplishments. 

You have to .

BUCHANAN:  Well, he‘s got the tax cuts.

STODDARD:  They did.

BUCHANAN:  And you don‘t like No Child Left Behind, you don‘t like Medicare prescription drugs?

STODDARD:  There is too much of a legacy of increased spending, that he didn‘t secure the borders, they didn‘t reform Social Security.  You take a beating if you can‘t deliver.  It doesn‘t matter.  The Republicans in Congress may stink of corruption but the White House—it was Karl Rove‘s job to get these things across the finish line.

PRESS:  But you see, that‘s the problem, I believe, which is it wasn‘t his job.  They made it his job.  He was a political genius.  When Clinton took over they didn‘t put James Carville in charge of foreign policy.

Karl Rove steps in and says, wait a minute.  I am going to run foreign policy.  I‘m going to run foreign policy.  He did have to do a lot with the war in Iraq and the pursuit of this failed policy and he had a lot to do with that immigration policy, Pat, you know that.  He convinced Bush that was the way to go.

BUCHANAN:  Well, I think the immigration policy, clearly, that was their great dream.  Their new successor coalition to the Reagan coalition.  It went down the tubes, no doubt about it.  I don‘t think you can blame Rove for the war at all.  And I think he made a terrible mistake.  I agree.

You don‘t go into—Take Ed Rollins or somebody and put him in the policy shop.  He is a political man.  He gives you advice, tells you what the effect is going to be, makes suggestions.  But he is not the policy guy.

PRESS:  But here is where I think he is responsible for the war.  Because he saw the war as a political opportunity.  And they ran on it and branded anybody, even Republicans who were against the war, as un-American and unpatriotic.  And that was their legend.  So that denied Bush, I think, the opportunity to make any change in direction at all.

STODDARD:  And he knew going into 2006 it was going to be challenging.  If he is the political strategist, it was his job, then to go in.  If he is the master of the map, make sure they could retain enough seats to at least hold on to one of those chambers.

BUCHANAN:  What I don‘t understand is—I understand their idea of bringing the Hispanics together.  I think it‘s very unrealistic.  Most of those are very poor folks.  Believe in government.

But the idea of going ahead with that amnesty right in the teeth of what he knew had to be a firestorm of his political base, I mean, that is almost suicidal.

STODDARD:  And he infuriated the base with big government spending programs as well.

BUCHANAN:  Not like the amnesty thing.

PRESS:  The second question you asked, I happen to believe that Karl Rove is more dangerous, potentially, to Democrats in Texas than he is in the White House.  Because look, he is going to have more time on his hands, right?  He is going to have less restrictions on his activities.

BUCHANAN:  Right

PRESS:  And less scrutiny on the part of the media.  He will be under the radar down there.  And God knows what he will be up to.  I bet he is on the phone right now to Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney saying, hey, to the highest bidder.  Or you know what?  Netanyahu.  I bet he shows up in Netanyahu‘s campaign.

BUCHANAN:  In Israel?

STODDARD:  An interesting guy.

PRESS:  Making money on the overseas elections.  That‘s what all the political consultants do these days.

BUCHANAN:  That is a good prediction, Bill.  We will take a look and see how that one plays out.

Rudy Giuliani now says he wants to put an end to illegal immigration in the United States.  It‘s quite a different tune from the one he was singing in the 1980‘s and 1990‘s.  Plus, Hillary Clinton says she is ready to become our next president.  But why can‘t we see all the records in the White House archives until after the elections, rather than before?  This is MSNBC, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Our immigration system has been unmanageable and ungovernable.  Our borders are certainly unmanageable.  When people can just walk over the border and not identify themselves and hundreds can do that and thousands can do that and I don‘t know maybe hundreds of thousands, probably 12 million illegal immigrants in this country, about half of them probably came in that way.  That‘s a lot of people to walk over your border.

We can end illegal immigration.  I promise you, we can end illegal immigration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCHANAN:  That was Rudy Giuliani today taking a tough stand on illegal immigration.  Just last weekend, GOP rival, Mitt Romney accused Giuliani of making New York a so-called sanctuary city for illegal aliens while he was mayor.  Meanwhile, today, you just heard it, Giuliani promised to stop illegal immigration.  Could he if he makes it to the White House?  Does anyone believe he can or will he truly try should he even get there.

With us now, associate editor of the Hill A.B. Stoddard and nationally syndicated radio talk show host, Bill Press.  Bill, what did you think of Rudy‘s - you know Tom Tancredo says, he has got a good line.  He said conversions are supposed to happen on the road to Damascus, not the road to Des Moines.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PRESS:  That is a good line and your sister probably wrote it for him.

BUCHANAN:  That‘s his own.  That‘s his own.

PRESS:  Look, I don‘t know you have that earlier speech of Giuliani when he was mayor of New York.

BUCHANAN:  I do and we‘re going to read that in a second.

PRESS:  I was going to say.  But the more I see of Rudy Giuliani, the more I like him.  Because he is pro choice, he is pro gay rights, he is pro gun control and he is pro sanctuary for undocumented workers.  I mean, he‘s my kind of Democrat except he is running for the Republican primary and I still don‘t get it and I think once he is better known in the primary states that his numbers are just going to tank.

BUCHANAN:  Bill is exactly right.  The guy is pro choice, all of that.  And he was - he is pro illegal immigration right there in New York, very proud of it.  I‘m going to put up a quote here in a second.

STODDARD:  That was yesterday.

BUCHANAN:  It is shame—He is not the only one.  It is shameless how many Republicans .

STODDARD:  The flopping that is going on in the Republican field, is now you have to be a flip-flopper.  It is Indian summer.  Everyone is flopping all over the place.  And they don‘t really pay for it, I don‘t think, in these poll numbers.

BUCHANAN:  Rudy certainly doesn‘t.  He‘s at 38 percent.

STODDARD:  He has to do this.  If he ends up—look, if he can—he has to do it in the primary for the base voters and then he has to do it for the general.  If he ends up against Hillary Clinton and he is pro choice and he is pro gay rights and he is soft on these issues that traditionally Republicans are, he stands a chance to pick up the border first crowd and a lot of independents and some Democrats who don‘t like Hillary Clinton.  If he can survive the primary being called a flip flopper like all his Republican friends in the field, he has to do this.

PRESS:  I have to say, to be called a flip-flopper by Mitt Romney is pretty bad.

BUCHANAN:  You talk about flip flop.  Let‘s put up what Rudy said in 1994.  Let me read it.  “Some of the hardest working and most productive people in this city are undocumented aliens.  If you come here and you work hard and you happen to be” an undocumented status - “in an undocumented status, you are one of the people we want in this city.  You are somebody we want to protect.  And we want you to get out from under what is often a life being like a fugitive, which is really unfair.”

PRESS:  Thank you Gavin Newsom.  Thank you Antonio Villaraigosa.  But Rudy Giuliani running for president as a Republican in 2008, I don‘t think it‘s the strategy .

BUCHANAN:  Romney is drawing blood on him with this charge, sanctuary city.  And frankly, what‘s that fellow‘s name, Jose Carranza, really love piece of work, the fellow in New Jersey charged with putting those African American students up against a wall and shooting them.  It is alleged he did it.  It is not alleged he is a Peruvian illegal who a few days ago was arrested for alleged rape of a five year old girl.  He has been arrested repeatedly.

And one of the things about sanctuary city is cops are not allowed to ask people arrested whether they are in the country legally.  This is why I think Rudy has made this move right now to change his position and get that stuff behind him.

STODDARD:  Well, first of all, any time Mitt Romney comes after you—he is now the frontrunner.  He is calling him a flip-flopper.  And it is off on immigration.  He has to come back.  Even if Mitt Romney didn‘t make this charge last week, I think that time is of the essence of Rudy Giuliani to position himself before Fred Thompson comes on the scene as tough on the border.

BUCHANAN:  He has to get off his position on immigration.  That is all there is to it.

PRESS:  That‘s right.  I don‘t think it is fair to equate - and I‘m not accusing you of doing that, but I will make the point.  You cannot equate all of the undocumented people living here with this murderer.

BUCHANAN:  Almost all of them come here to work.  No doubt about it. 

They are good people.  They have broken the law.

PRESS:  They are good people.  But I think with Rudy—I understand why he is doing it.  The question is, does he really have any credibility.  Because really what he is saying is, do as I say, not as I did.  He was mayor of New York.  He was in a position to crack down on illegal immigrants then if that was his policy.  And he didn‘t do it.  I don‘t think he is believable on the issue.  I think Romney scores big on this issue.

BUCHANAN:  I think Romney and Tancredo and the others will keep going after him and not let him get away with it.  I really do.

PRESS:  You‘re right.

STODDARD:  They don‘t have McCain to kick around anymore.

BUCHANAN:  Maybe they‘ll get him back.

OK, Barack Obama becomes the first politician to grace the cover of “G.Q.” in 15 years.  “G.Q.” obviously recognizes Obama‘s charm, good looks and star power.  But could these same qualities end up hurting his campaign?

Plus, a progress report on the Iraq troop surge.  It isn‘t expected to come in till next month but there has already been a surge in public support.  Are Americans giving this war one last chance?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

BUCHANAN:  Time now to check with our Obameter.  The Illinois senator and presidential hopeful graces the current cover of “G.Q. Magazine.”  It is the first political cover “G.Q.” has done since Governor Bill Clinton in 1992.  Are the “G.Q.” editors on to something?  Will history repeat itself?  Or is Obama a fashion fad? 

Associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard, and nationally syndicated radio talk show host, Bill Press—with Sirius, right Bill? 

PRESS:  I‘m with Sirius and 35 other stations around the country.

BUCHANAN:  Let me start with you, A.B.  I didn‘t read it in depth.  But everything you read about this report on Obama is he is having a problem.  Is he Adelai high minded or is he Harry Truman, who is going after Hillary and is going to fight his way to the nomination and show he is a tough campaigner.  He seems to be going back and forth and not settled in either one and I think it‘s starting to hurt him. 

STODDARD:  He has a few minutes left to make this calculation.  He has to make a decision and he has go for it.  He, if you look at the polls, is favored by the educated and the upper income Democrats.  The down scale, less educated, in need of more government services party members are favoring Hillary Clinton.  If he doesn‘t go for this John Edwards populous message soon and find some of those voters to steal away from her, he is not going to get—he‘s going to be Bill Bradley.  He‘s not going to get the nomination. 

BUCHANAN:  That sounds—whatever you say about McGovern, he had a great movement going.  But 45 percent of the delegates at the ‘72 convention had advanced degrees.  That was—I mean, they lost—there was Wallace, Rizzo—Democrats just all went.  Can Obama get those folks?  Does he get them this way?

PRESS:  I don‘t disagree with what A.B. says at all.  I think he is still trying to find his footing.  Look, he is a rock star.  There is no doubt about it.  He has tremendous appeal.

BUCHANAN:  He can be explosive. 

PRESS:  Yes, and he can be very attractive and he can make people stand and cheer and weep.  There are very few candidates who can do that today.  He appeals to the educated.  I also think he appeals to the common person.  But I don‘t see yet the central theme of the Obama campaign. 

BUCHANAN:  People said—these are reporters, they say everybody has seen the speech at the convention, but they come away sort of disappointed when they get into these smaller groups, when he is just talking to them, he doesn‘t project that kind of charisma in everything that he had. 

PRESS:  I have heard just the opposite from people in small meetings with him, that they come away just energized by Barack Obama.  Again, I don‘t think we‘ve seen it yet on the stump or in the debates.  But we‘ve got to see it soon, because Hillary is a machine. 

BUCHANAN:  Let me put up another—Harold Ford, who lost the race to Corker down there in Tennessee, very close, he made a statement on Sunday about the Democratic party moving too far to the left in the primaries, all of them being drawn over there.  This is his quote, “George W. Bush is handing us Democrats our Hoover moment,” 1932.  “But for Democrats, taking the center for granted next year would be a greater mistake than ever before.” 

Clearly, Edwards is moving left.  Here is what Obama said.  He was talking about U.S. war in Afghanistan and Iraq.  He said that we are air raiding villages and killing civilians.  That‘s John Kerry 1971 talk.  Again, is the party moving over there?  That would lose the opportunity, I think.  You would lose the center and Ford is right. 

PRESS:  First of all, he was talking about Afghanistan, not Iraq.  I know what he was trying to say.  I believe he was trying to say that a U.S.  occupation of any country is just not going to work, whether it is Iraq or Afghanistan.  He was careless in his choice of those words and those phrases. 

I have to come back to Harold Ford.  This is the DLC.  They are the centrist Democratic organization.  They hate it every year in the primary when Democrats run among Democrats.  I don‘t think the Democrats in the primary have moved too far left at all.  Their basic themes are health care and the Iraq war.  The American people are on the side of that.  The Republicans are on the wrong side. 

BUCHANAN:  I think Edwards has gotten way out to the left. 

STODDARD:  I think Edwards is going way left.  I don‘t think that what Obama said about Afghanistan—I think that was a stumble, as Bill said.  I don‘t think that represents his liberal foreign policy. 

BUCHANAN:  Let me tell you, I have worked in Republican campaigns.  You grab something like that, it‘s like you have a piece of gold, finding it on the ground.  You put that up there—

STODDARD:  That‘s definitely not ready for prime time.  But would say about Harold Ford‘s comments, I think he is right.  I think the Democrats have to watch out, back to the legacy of Karl Rove.  I think the country has moved to the center.  I think it has moved rightward in recent years. 

I think you see a lot of Democrats mad about illegal immigration and mad about government spending, things they didn‘t used to focus on.  I think that the Democrats need to watch that as they go into the next—

PRESS:  I have to say, I watched that GOP debate last Sunday with George Stephanopoulos.  I don‘t see the Republicans going to the center either.  This is the way politics works in this country.  In the primaries, you get your base.  You get your nomination and you don‘t go so far out, of course.  Then you come back in the center and you win. 

BUCHANAN:  Obama‘s problem is he is an unknown nationally.  Hillary Clinton has been around a long time.  I will give her credit.  She is moving slowly to the right.  But everybody knows her.  She is a known commodity.  Every time she‘s on, people are getting more comfortable, saying, look, I‘m not with her, but at least it‘s not going to be dangerous. 

Barack, he is going to invade Pakistan or something one day.  You know?

(CROSS TALK) 

BUCHANAN:  I said, look, I was looking at one anti-war candidate and this one is going to invade Pakistan. 

PRESS:  You know what he said.  Again, I think it was a slip.  I think he will announce it publicly.  He said, if we knew where Osama bin Laden is, we ought to go in and get him.  And by the way, why haven‘t we?  It‘s been six years, right?  Why haven‘t we gotten him?

BUCHANAN:  If Musharraf won‘t do it, I will.  He is the president of Pakistan and he has nuclear weapons. 

PRESS:  That‘s not going to hurt him in the general election. 

BUCHANAN:  If you editorialize, Bill, to open up the archives and all those two million documents of Hillary Clinton‘s that are in the White House archives, that we all want to see before we make our choice in November. 

PRESS:  I don‘t know what else is left to know about Hillary‘s health plan.  So much has been and written and she‘s talked so much about it.  I am for open records, open government, which is why, you know, when George Bush signed this executive order closing down his father‘s presidential papers and Ronald Reagan‘s presidential papers, and Bill Clinton‘s, and his, I think it was wrong.  Let them all out there. 

BUCHANAN:  Before the election?  If I were running her campaign, I would say don‘t let those things get out there. 

(CROSS TALK)

BUCHANAN:  What kind of cynics. 

PRESS:  If you were a candidate, that what you would say.  If you were a journalist, do you say open them up. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, let‘s take a look at Romney.  He has apparently got—his rock bottom figure, he‘s got 250 million dollars.  I have had to do those reports.  You have got more than the reports say, because you have got to put the bottom figure in there.  It‘s a range in there.  It can be anywhere from—you have 100,000 dollars to 20 million.

PRESS:  His range is 190 million to 250 million.  Pat, I don‘t know about you.  I would be happy with the bottom end of that range. 

BUCHANAN:  Let me tell you a problem he is going to have.  He had it with Kennedy.  He worked for Bayne (ph) and Company.  You know what that was, Bill, in the 1960‘s and 70‘s?  That‘s one of those guys that goes into the company and says, we are going to make a lot more money, I‘ll tell you what, fire these guys, get rid of this, drop those guys off.  Teddy Kennedy used some examples of companies that had been down sized.  You know, they were pretty grim in terms of what happened to the guys.  That stuff will be coming out.

STODDARD:  I don‘t think Mitt Romney is going to make it far enough to have that be a problem.  At 800 dollars a vote in the Straw Poll or whatever he had to spend, where the real contenders, the heavy weights, Giuliani and Thompson, weren‘t even there -- 

BUCHANAN:  Why do you think they were not there?  I will tell you why. 

They would have been waxed.  Giuliani has no organization out there.  McCain has next to zero.  They booed McCain‘s name every time it was mentioned at that straw poll.  Do you know what they had done?  Suppose they had come in second, third, or fourth. 

STODDARD:  I still think nationally Mitt Romney doesn‘t have a chance. 

I‘m sorry.

PRESS:  I want to say, Pat, you and I were together at the Straw Poll.  You were a candidate.  I was a reporter in Ames, Iowa in 2000.  We were just talking earlier about Steve Forbes.  Steve Forbes has got as much money as Mitt Romney.  He had this great big air conditioned tent with French windows and two live bands.  We never saw President Steve Forbes, did we?  We never saw nominee Steve Forbes. 

BUCHANAN:  He got a good turnout.  He got 4,500 people out there.  I will say this—

PRESS:  You can have all the money.  It doesn‘t mean you win. 

BUCHANAN:  One of the problems in Iowa was they only got 14,000 voting this time.  We got 23,000 voting back then.  It shows the energy, fire, enthusiasm that were there aren‘t there.  Bush got 7,500 votes out there.  That shows you what money can do.

PRESS:  You had more excitement at the Yearly Kos convention in Chicago than you did at the Ames Straw poll, which doesn‘t bode well for the Republican party, which is probably why Karl Rove is going to have to get busy down there in Texas. 

BUCHANAN:  I think Romney is going to win.  I do think Huckabee really came out of that strong. 

STODDARD:  You think Romney is going to win the nomination?

BUCHANAN:  I think Romney is going to win in Iowa.  I‘ll tell you, they‘ve telescoped them all so close, the momentum of that could carry him right over the top in New Hampshire.  Reason being, Thompson will be waiting there in the dark.  McCain will be waiting in the dark. 

All the world is going to be in Iowa for Obama and that.  If they don‘t go out there, what kind of coverage are they going to get.  I would be sweating if I was those three guys, and I decided not to go there. 

PRESS:  Watching the field today and to come, I think we are going to see the Freddy fizzle.  And I think Romney is going to be the nominee. 

STODDARD:  Really? 

BUCHANAN:  OK, we got it right here.  You heard it.  Take that.  We still don‘t know if the troop surge in Iraq is working or not.  But more Americans believe it is.  Are the tides turning? 

Plus, the New York philharmonic has played gigs all over the world. 

Are they really considering playing for North Korean dictator Kim Jong il. 

Will he go nuclear if they don‘t?  Willie Geist has this symphonic story. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BUCHANAN:  With General David Petraeus due to submit his troop surge progress report in a matter of just a few weeks, confidence in the surge‘s impact is growing.  The latest CBS News poll shows that 29 percent of those polled feel the surge is having a positive effect.  That‘s up 10 percent from last month. 

The news from Iraq remains mixed at best.  Today, nine U.S. soldiers were killed in action and at least 175 people were reportedly killed by a suicide tanker attack in northern Iraq.  Despite the on-going violence, is American public opinion about the war shifting back in a positive direction? 

Back with us are associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard and nationally syndicated radio talk show host, Bill Press.  Bill, let me start with you.  There is no doubt about it, the talk that the surge is working, from journalists visiting there, John Burns of the “New York Times,” other people who have been very critical—They are saying Petraeus seems to have the formula down.  They are really making progress on the ground. 

Obviously the country is beginning to believe a little bit.  I mean, 30 percent, almost, believe the surge is working.  Only 15 percent believe it is not.  The rest don‘t know.  It looks to me like the president may be able to buy himself some more time in September. 

PRESS:  Pat, 29 percent, woopty do.  That‘s hardly worth celebrating.  Come on.  It‘s ridiculous.  I talked this morning on my show to Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky from Illinois, just got back Friday from Iraq.  She had lunch with Petraeus and Ryan Crocker.  Petraeus told them—and she told me this this morning, so I‘m not speaking out of school here—that American troops will be in Iraq for the next nine to 10 years. 

Now, what is he going to say in September?  He is going to say, we need more time and he will probably get more time.  It doesn‘t mean the surge is working.  The surge was there to stabilize things so they could have political progress.  There is zero political progress. 

BUCHANAN:  I think that point is well taken.  It‘s exactly on the mark.  I think Maliki is the real problem.  I do think if something happens to the Maliki government, if that thing goes down, I think the bottom may fall out.  I do believe, given these reports on the surge, a lot of people saying its positive.  There‘s a lot of Americans, some of them like me, who were against the war, who are saying, look, don‘t pull the plug if there is a possibility this thing could end a lot better than it will if we do pull the plug. 

STODDARD:  I think that people who worry about us leaving, like yourself, could find—be heartened by the news that the surge that is working.  The improvement has to be profound and has to last in order to turn the political tide in the Congress.  People who are already sour on the war.  Republicans and Democrats have been home for a month listening to people who are angry about this war. 

It‘s not enough progress sustained over a long period of time to change the tide of people mad about this war. 

BUCHANAN:  Look, I don‘t doubt that.  That central question is, will the Democratic party, the Democratic Congress, impose a deadline on the president of the United States when he vetoes it and it is sustained.  They will support him and they will give him the money.  They voted for warrantless wiretaps, for heavens sake. 

STODDARD:  What you will hear a lot about is how the troops are stretched thin and we can‘t sustain the surge.  General Casey just said so again. 

BUCHANAN:  What are they going to do, A.B.?  What is Congress going to do? 

(CROSS TALK)

BUCHANAN:  They should do the Kucinich thing. 

PRESS:  What they should do is absolutely—if they put a deadline on and the president vetoes it again, they should cut off the funding.  This war has already lasted longer than World War II. 

BUCHANAN:  That‘s what you say.

(CROSS TALK)

BUCHANAN:  Does anybody on this panel think Congress will do it?  I don‘t think so.  Do you? 

STODDARD:  No, but they are going to try to find a way to talk about the Maliki government and its failures and how there is no hope that they will make political improvement. 

PRESS:  The reason they won‘t do it is because they are not going to get 60 votes in the United States Senate, because enough Republicans are not going to abandon. 

BUCHANAN:  When they don‘t get it, they will fund the war.

PRESS:  I think they are suicidal, these Republicans.

BUCHANAN:  They will fund the war, won‘t they? 

PRESS:  I keep hope alive.  I hope they don‘t. 

BUCHANAN:  That‘s a yes.  A.B. Stoddard and Bill Press, thank you for coming up. 

They just don‘t make robbers like they used to.  This guy tried to hold up a liquor store in a duck-taped disguise.  He didn‘t get any money.  But he did get a lot of laughs.  Willie Geist has the story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BUCHANAN:  It is not always all about politics on this show, especially when it comes to the last five minutes.  That is when we look beyond the headlines, below the fold, and past the front page.  For that we turn to Willie Geist for the rest of today‘s news.  Hi Willie.

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hello, Pat.  We have loved having you for the past couple of days.  You‘re doing a great job.  Come back any time. 

Pat, I do not have the numbers to back this theory up, but my own unscientific study seems to show that criminals are becoming increasingly stupid.  Case in point, this guy.  Instead of going with the trusty old ski mask or pantyhose, this man disguised himself for a robbery by wrapping duct tape around his head.  He tried to hold up a liquor store in Kentucky the other day. 

He did not get very far before he was subdued quite easily.  Even the store‘s manager couldn‘t believe how dumb the would be robber was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL STEELE, LIQUOR STORE MANAGE:  He probably had every opportunity to put a brown paper poke over his head and poke holes in it.  Or a plastic bag.  But duct tape?  It is just unbelievable.  People do not think this really happened. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  As a robber, you never want to have your victims giggling at you.  It kind of under cuts the entire operation.  The man under all of that duct tape was arrested and taken to jail.  But in an interview, he said that police somehow have the wrong man. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They call you the duct tape bandit, that is not you? 

KASEY KAZEE, SUSPECTED DUCT TAPE ROBBER:  Look at me.  Do I look like the duct tape bandit, baby?  I am not no duct tape bandy.  You hear me?  Live 101, Kentucky, you know this is not me.  Do the math.  Do the homework. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  Do the math, do the homework.  They took the tape off of your head and it was you. 

BUCHANAN:  That‘s a real beauty.

GEIST:  We have done the math.  Pat, this guy rivals someone we only saw last month in New Hampshire.  Look at this picture.  A guy held up a bank in New Hampshire with shrubs around his head.  Look in the lower part of your screen there.  Caught on surveillance; he was arrested and caught later.  I do not know what is worse, the shrubbery or the duct tape.  They‘re both pretty bad, Pat, I have to say.

BUCHANAN:  I met some of those guys in New Hampshire. 

GEIST:  They voted for you, Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  Part of the brigades.

GEIST:  That is your base.  In other news from the crime blotter, an off-duty sheriff‘s deputy in Nevada was pulled over and arrested for DUI over the weekend.  That is bad enough, but there‘s more.  She was pulled over and arrested by her own husband, who was also a sheriff‘s deputy there.  Deputy Charlotte Moore (ph) was stopped after her husband, Deputy Mike Moore, saw her speeding and making an illegal turn. 

Reports say she drove off before taking a breathalyzer test, so her husband pulled her over again.  At that point, he called in back up and left the scene to avoid a conflict of interest.  His wife has been placed on administrative leave.  he has been placed out on the couch for the foreseeable future.

BUCHANAN:  That must have been a good meeting when she got home.

GEIST:  Pat, you think that you get in trouble for leaving the toilet seat up, try to arrest your wife. 

BUCHANAN:  I would not be asleep when she came into the house with the gun on. 

GEIST:  Finally, Pat, Kim Jong il, as you know, has a strange way of showing his appreciation for art.  He loved the films of one South Korean dictator and his actress wife so much that he once had them kidnapped and brought to North Korea, where they were forced to develop a film industry there.  This time the dear leader is asking politely, believe it or not.  He is asking the New York philharmonic to play a concert in Pyongyang. 

The United States‘ oldest symphony orchestra confirms it has received a formal invitation from the North Korean Ministry of Culture.  The philharmonic says it is considering the request, as it would any other.  Pat, if they can get away with kidnapping a South Korean actress, but not the New York philharmonic. 

We‘re going to have a problem there.

BUCHANAN:  I would think twice about going on that one, Willie.

GEIST:  I‘m with you.

BUCHANAN:  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, HARDBALL with 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.

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