Guests: Anne Kornblut; Pat Buchanan; Ed Schultz, Joan Walsh
DAVID GREGORY, HOST: Tonight, why Barack Obama is much more concerned about Hillary Clinton than her husband on the eve of their first joint appearance.
And we have got news for you about what‘s happening in some key battleground states, as THE RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE rolls on.
And welcome to THE RACE. I‘m David Gregory. Happy to have you here, your stop for the fast-paced, the bottom line and every point of view in the room.
Tonight, Obama‘s advisers say they are working to set up a call between Obama and the former president to smooth over differences and chart a course for Mr. Clinton in the campaign.
Spin and counter-spin tonight. Does Obama have a record of bipartisanship? Has McCain wasted time in the search for momentum in campaign?
We‘re going to go inside the War Room, where it is hot.
At the half tonight, on the issues. More than the rhetoric, we will tell you what the candidates will do about gas prices and energy, not just now, but over the long term.
The bedrock for this program as you know, a panel that always comes to play.
And with us tonight, Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst; Anne Kornblut, national political reporter for “The Washington Post”; Ed Schultz, host of the nationally syndicated “Ed Schultz Show”; and Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of salon.com.
We begin as we do every night, with everyone‘s take on the most important political story of the day. It is “The Headline.”
I‘ll get us started here tonight. My headline, “What Happens in North Korea May Not Stay in North Korea.”
Today, with much fanfare, the president announced that North Korea has come clean about its nuclear program. It is the first step toward the goal of making the regime of Kim Jong-il free of nuclear weapons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This can be a moment of opportunity for North Korea. If North Korea continues to make the right choices, it can repair its relationship with the international community much as Libya has done over the past few years. If North Korea makes the wrong choices, the United States and our partners in the six-party talks will respond accordingly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: The White House relaxed some sanctions and will take North Korea off the list of terror states. All this, after the president labeled North Korea part of the “axis of evil” back in 2002 and insisted back then on breaking off the Clinton administration‘s diplomatic engagement with the north. The Bush administration later came around to diplomacy as part of the six-party talks the president just discussed there, which included direct engagement with the regime.
Is there a lesson in all of this for the campaign and the debate over how to get Iran to stand down from developing nuclear weapons?
Joan Walsh, you‘re looking back home here at the delicate dance, the diplomatic dance between Obama and Hillary Clinton tonight. It‘s really heating up.
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, SALON.COM: I am, David. “The Clinton-Obama Trip to Unity Starts Tonight, Not Tomorrow.”
Tomorrow there‘s going to be a love-fest in Unity, New Hampshire, but tonight the real action is going on in Washington. Hillary Clinton is introducing Obama to her top advisers. And this is where the action is.
These are the women, most of them women, who are the most upset about Hillary Clinton‘s loss. And these are the people that he really needs, that he really needs to both write checks and deliver the votes.
GREGORY: And it‘s a question—there‘s a certain amount of auditioning going on for Obama tonight. And he also recognizes that helping her to retire her campaign debt is important in terms of freeing up these donors to raise money and give money to him.
WALSH: You know, that‘s true. But the thing that I‘ve been hearing from more than a couple of women, actually, is that they are showing up tonight with questions for Obama and not with checks necessarily.
WALSH: So I think there‘s a delicate dance going on. They will be auditioning him. They will be gently, I‘m hearing, respectfully, but asking some questions about the things that disturbed them over the course of the campaign.
GREGORY: All right.
WALSH: So we‘ll see. I just think tomorrow will be a lot more fun for him than tonight.
GREGORY: Pat, you‘ve got a take tonight on the big headline today coming out of the Supreme Court. What is it?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Supremes.”
The headline is that the 5-4 decision which upheld the citizen‘s right to keep and bear arms today and yesterday‘s 5-4 decision which stripped states of the right to impose the maximum sanction on child rapists. What it means, David, is what kind of justices do you want for the Supreme Court? The conservatives in this argument, they feel like Br‘er Rabbit right after he‘s been thrown into the briar patch.
GREGORY: And Anne, you pick up on that tonight with your headline, because this really is a wakeup call to those who are debating on the campaign trail, the Supreme Court matters.
ANNE KORNBLUT, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:
Absolutely. “Supremely Important” is my headline for you tonight.
We at “The Washington Post” took a poll recently. And one of the questions that was asked was, “Who do you trust more on the question of who would—on picking Supreme Court justices?” They were about even, 45-43, Obama and McCain. And that‘s actually a lot closer than the top-line numbers for the election.
And with decisions that we‘ve seen over the last two days, the handgun decision from today, the child rapist death penalty decision from yesterday, and then last week the habeas corpus decision, two out of those three were decided by 5-4 splits. So I think, to agree with Pat, it‘s not just conservatives, but also liberals for whom this is going to be a really big issue in November.
GREGORY: We know that McCain has really fallen in line with Bush when it comes to who he‘d like to see on the Supreme Court in the style and the philosophy and the ideology of an Alito and a Roberts.
What about Obama? Has he really signaled that?
KORNBLUT: Well, he has talked about some of the more liberal members of the bench, but he‘s been a little, I would wager to say, squishier on the decisions themselves.
KORNBLUT: He is—you know, the decision today—his response to the gun ban decision was, in fact, a split one. He said he agreed with parts and not others. So he has not been as firm as McCain. I expect he‘s going to get a lot of questions about that the next time he speaks in public.
GREGORY: All right.
Ed Schultz, you‘re back on the program. Your headline tonight about what John McCain has been up to?
ED SCHULTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, he hasn‘t been up to very much. Interesting story in The Politico, he doesn‘t like to work weekends. We‘ll take a closer look.
David, he doesn‘t like to work during the week either. He hasn‘t voted in the Senate since April 8th. He‘s missed over 360 votes.
Now, if we want to be fair about this, I remember when Bill Frist was giving criticism to John Kerry, saying he‘s parachuting back into the Senate to vote coming off the campaign trail. Well, at least Kerry went back to vote. John McCain isn‘t coming back to vote.
I think this is an issue for Democrats in Arizona. They‘ve got to challenge John McCain.
What kind of representation are they getting? And I also think that John McCain has to seriously think about stepping out of the Senate the same way Bob Dole did back when he ran against Bill Clinton.
GREGORY: Ed, is there an important issue, is there an important vote that he‘s missed in the course of his campaign?
SCHULTZ: Well, I think he better not miss this FISA vote that might be coming up pretty soon. But it just doesn‘t look good.
I mean, if you‘re going to be gone that much and not hold any events, I think the Republicans also have to ask, what kind of candidate do we have? Does he really want the White House?
He‘s not burning the midnight oil trying to defeat Barack Obama. In the meantime, Obama is starting to distance himself in the polls. I think the Republicans are in early trouble.
GREGORY: All right. A lot to talk about here as we go inside the War Room. We‘re going to take a break next, go inside the War Room.
As I told you about, the analytical attacks between these campaigns on their style and the substance, we‘ll get into that. Also talk about these new poll numbers as well.
Later on in the program, your play date with the panel. You can call us, 212-790-2299 or e-mail us, firstname.lastname@example.org.
We‘ll be right back.
GREGORY: We are back on THE RACE. Time to go inside the War Room, look at the strategies, the poll numbers, the tactics, the attacks between these two campaigns.
Back with us, Pat Buchanan, Anne Kornblut, Ed Schultz and Joan Walsh.
Topic number one: New battleground numbers from Quinnipiac. The new poll, Obama ahead in Colorado. That‘s the real headline here, 49-44.
This is a state, of course, that he wants to put on the map, and a strategy to go beyond the Kerry states, those 20 states of 2004, and cut into those Bush states there. So he‘s up 49-44 in Colorado.
Go next to Michigan. There again, Obama on top 48-42, a state where his organization is still coming on line. He didn‘t campaign there, remember. McCain wont he primary there in 2000, lost it in 2008.
McCain trailing by double digits when you go to Minnesota, 54-37.
That‘s the advantage there for Obama.
Head over to Wisconsin. Obama ahead there as well, 52-39.
Pat Buchanan, you look at that map, you‘re John McCain, what do you think?
BUCHANAN: I think Governor Pawlenty is probably receding as a vice presidential nominee. If you‘re that far back in Minnesota, it‘s not that big. And my guess is Romney begins to look a little better because he does have strength in Michigan.
I think if I‘m McCain, I‘m looking at the big industrial states, strategy—Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia—and holding. Colorado and New Mexico and Nevada and the others with a tough campaign among Hispanics. That‘s what I‘d be looking at right now—David.
GREGORY: Joan, if you look at Colorado in particular, what‘s the key to an Obama victory there down the stretch? Doesn‘t have a huge—he doesn‘t have a huge lead there now, and Independents we know who are maybe soft Republicans may be telling part of that story right now.
WALSH: Well, definitely. I think the Independents are key. And you know, the Democrats were very smart.
Their convention is in Denver. They‘re going to have—you know, it looks like a love-fest. They‘re going to have a Clinton/Obama love-fest, they‘re going to have all the party leaders there.
They‘re going to get tons of attention on local television, radio. It‘s really going to be the biggest event in Colorado, you know, this entire summer.
If you look at those Minnesota numbers, I don‘t really think that the Minneapolis convention is going to quite do the trick for John McCain. So Obama has so much going for him when you look at the numbers from those four states. It‘s really quite amazing.
GREGORY: Let me move on now to these analytical attacks, the spin, the counter-spin coming from the campaigns today.
The first one from team McCain questioning Obama‘s bipartisanship. A very interesting memo from strategist Steve Schmidt with the campaign, sort of saying, where is the outrage in the press corps about Obama‘s lack of bipartisanship?
This is how he argued it. This is from Steve Schmidt.
“There has never been a time when Barack Obama has bucked the party line to lead on an issue of national importance. He has never been a part of a bipartisan group that came together to solve a controversial issue. He has never put his career on the line for a cause greater than himself.”
“We don‘t need to trade Republican partisanship for Democratic partisanship. We need to put our country first and put our politics second. That is what John McCain has done his whole life, and that is what he will do as president.”
Ed, take it on.
SCHULTZ: Well, I think that Senator McCain needs to refresh his memory a little bit. You can go to the Foreign Relations Committee. You can see the good work that Barack Obama did with Senator Lugar from Indiana dealing with loose nukes in Russia. That is a key issue that both of those gentlemen worked on.
Also, when it comes to ethics reform, Barack Obama did some excellent work with Senator Coburn from Oklahoma.
So this is really a straw man argument for the McCain camp. I don‘t believe that the American people believe that Barack Obama isn‘t going to cross party lines to get things done. He‘s got a record of doing just that.
GREGORY: Pat, what is the evidence of him actually leading in bipartisan consensus on an issue?
BUCHANAN: No, I don‘t think there really is. I mean, everybody‘s for loose nukes in Russia being controlled.
Take a look at the Supreme Court votes. John McCain voted for Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Breyer, the Clinton justices, both liberals. Barack Obama, as I understand it, was against Alito and against Chief Justice John Roberts.
He‘s a left wing guy. He‘s got the most left-wing voting record in the United States Senate. As we‘ve said, Bernie Sanders has been demanding a recount.
SCHULTZ: At least he‘s voting.
BUCHANAN: Well, how many votes did Obama make this spring?
SCHULTZ: Well, he made the GI bill vote, I can tell you that, Pat.
And that‘s something McCain missed.
GREGORY: Anne Kornblut, what‘s the objective read on this, the objective read on this? You talk to Obama people, as I did this afternoon, and they will say, look he has worked going back to ethics reform, he‘s worked—you know, he‘s worked for Senator Brownback, who was on a conference calling attacking him today, going back in the Illinois Senate. He worked across party lines on some key issues as well.
What‘s the objective take on this?
KORNBLUT: Well, I think it‘s twofold. I think, one, this is an area where the McCain campaign actually has some room to maneuver. There are a number of other issues where they just are losing.
This is one where McCain can actually point to his own record of bipartisanship, and it‘s a real one. And a lot of Democrats know that because they‘ve worked with him.
I think the second part is that this is obviously a response to an ad that we saw out West where a Republican candidate for the Senate actually invoked his popularity...
KORNBLUT: ... as having worked with Barack Obama. That‘s unheard of.
GREGORY: Gordon Smith out in Oregon.
KORNBLUT: Gordon Smith out in Oregon. Exactly.
So I think it‘s in evidence now. Maybe he took notice of the 75,000 people who showed up at the Obama rally in Oregon. But I think it points to what both sides see as a real possibility for McCain, but also one of Obama‘s strengths.
GREGORY: This is actually an area where I think McCain can exploit a longer record in the Senate where he did stand up to the party, whether it had to deal with interrogation techniques, standing up to the White House, or on the Gang of 14 on judges, a position that hurt him among conservatives. He may have some room to maneuver. The debate goes on.
Let‘s talk more about the Unity event tomorrow. Hillary Clinton, the joint event with Obama tomorrow. She was out campaigning today, giving a speech. She talked about Barack Obama. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I campaigned with him for more than 16 months on the campaign trail. I have stood on the stage in 22 debates, but who‘s counting? I have seen his passion and determination, as well as his grit and his grace.
We have to be determined to chart a new course, and we cannot do that without electing Senator Obama our president. So that is what I‘m going to be working for. That is what I‘m going to be fighting for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: There is a real complicated negotiation going on right now, Joan Walsh. An Obama adviser told me this afternoon the big focus for Obama now is not to turn off any of Clinton‘s supporters at this stage. They don‘t want them to feel like they‘re leaving this process feeling bruised in any way.
Has he really reached out to make unity real?
WALSH: I think he‘s reaching out. I think—you know, I think he‘s doing a lot of good things.
On the other hand, you know, people really took the Patti Solis Doyle hiring as the VP chief of staff very seriously last week, David. That was kind of a wrong move, at least to put her in that job, not to hire her.
So, you know, there‘s more that he can do. There will be a discussion tonight. He‘ll have his opportunity to really talk and charm and engage with a lot of her key supporters.
There‘s plenty of time for this. And I think despite the intense negotiations, I think that‘s normal. If anything about this race is normal, I think that‘s normal. He has got plenty of time to reach out to her people.
GREGORY: Ed, do you think that there‘s actually a movement within the Obama campaign to look beyond Hillary Clinton in the ticket and to focus on what role she plays on the campaign trail, what role she plays at the convention, and how she‘s used in a more targeted way along the campaign trail?
SCHULTZ: Well, I think that the Obama campaign has been more than sensitive and more respectful to the Clinton camp than what I think a lot of people are giving them credit for. Yes, Hillary Clinton is a key player, and so is Bill Clinton. But it needs to be profoundly pointed out, David, that Barack Obama is breaking out in all these “big states” ahead of John McCain without the Clintons on the campaign trail and without the so-called “unity” that everybody in the Democratic Party is expecting.
SCHULTZ: Senator Clinton has an obligation. But right now, Barack Obama needs to be given credit. He‘s doing it on his own.
GREGORY: All right. We‘re going to take a break.
WALSH: Well, it‘s very early.
GREGORY: It is early. And there will be unity, there will be campaigning. I‘m interested in the phone call that‘s going to happen between Obama and Bill Clinton at some point down the road.
GREGORY: We are going to take a break here, we‘ll come back.
Our mini veepstakes, as we‘ve been doing every day this week, looking at what Obama might actually be looking for and whether an Ohio politician who is in the Bush administration may be on McCain‘s short list. A lot of conservatives looking that way.
We‘ll take a break and come right back.
GREGORY: We are back on RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE.
Our “Vet a Veep” section, it‘s not real long. We‘re going to take a look at just one on the potential short list for John McCain, and also talk a little bit about what Barack Obama may be looking for in a running mate.
Here again, our panel: Pat, Anne, Ed and Joan.
Today, John McCain in Ohio. While there, he met with social conservatives, trying to reach out to that community, get the enthusiasm going, particularly in the southern part of the state.
And with him today, Rob Portman, former congressman from Ohio. He was in the leadership on the Republican side in the House, 52 years old. He was the director of the Office of Budget and Management for George W. Bush, was also his trade rep, and worked very closely with this president when he was in the leadership on the Hill. Also prepped Vice President Cheney in 2004 for his debates with John Edwards.
So he‘s got strong conservative credentials, well known to this administration, well known certainly in Republican circles around the country.
From Ohio, a very important state for McCain to try to hold on to.
With all of that, Pat Buchanan, assess.
BUCHANAN: Well, I think look, he‘s a very competent congressman, experienced. He has the credentials.
But look, he‘s identified first with NAFTA and free trade, which is now poison in Ohio. And secondly, he‘s the manager of the budget, and the budget hasn‘t been going all that well for Republicans lately. And I don‘t think those are two hot issues.
But I would poll it if I were McCain and see if this guy can really help in Ohio. And if he can, he‘s one guy that I think John McCain would have to look at.
GREGORY: Ed—on the other side, Ed, you‘re a Democrat, you look at Portman, yes, he‘s an outside guy now, he‘s no longer in the government. He was in the Bush White House, he was close to Dick Cheney. And if you‘re John McCain and you want to try to get some of the change feel out there, he could be portrayed as a Washington insider.
SCHULTZ: Well, he is red meat to the Democrats. First of all, he‘s got low name recognition across the country. And I think if John McCain picks anybody who has been associated with the Bush administration, that‘s lethal.
What do you bring to the table other than a bunch of problems? And if you‘re such a Washington insider, that‘s not what the country is looking for right now. And so I don‘t think Portman—I don‘t think he brings too much to the table at all.
As far as the social conservatives are concerned and the fiscally responsible conservatives, they‘re having a hard time with McCain. He can find somebody better than Portman to put on the ticket that has more of a broader appeal. I think Mitt Romney looks a heck of a lot better than the congressman for Ohio.
GREGORY: Right. And whether it makes sense for McCain to actually go with the governor.
Anne Kornblut, on the Democratic side, Barack Obama talked today about some of the things he may need. We won‘t play the actual sound bite, but the point he was making is somebody who would disagree with him, who would serve as real counsel to him, disagree, push him on certain policies. He‘s really outlining policy and a kind of a sketch of a vice president like an Al Gore or a Dick Cheney.
KORNBLUT: Well, right. And he‘s also sort of expanding the horizons and setting the stage for when he does pick someone who does inevitably disagree with him on something, be it the war, be it trade, that he will say, well, look, I always said back then, I wanted somebody who disagreed with me.
KORNBLUT: I think it gives him a lot more room to maneuver.
GREGORY: All right. I‘ve got to take a break here. We‘re going to come back, go in the weeds a little bit, go deep on substance. Talking about energy when we come back.
GREGORY: Welcome back. At the half here for RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE, taking you inside a special edition of the war room, the energy debate, who is winning, who is losing and where do they actually stand? We want you to be informed on both the issues. We are going to take you inside both side‘s energy plans and separate the gimmicks from the substance.
Still here, our panel tonight, Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst and author of “Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessarily War, How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World,” Anne Kornblut, national political reporter for the “Washington Post,” Ed Schultz, host of the nationally syndicated Ed Schultz show, and Joan Walsh, editor and chief of Salon.com.
Let‘s get to it. First up, the short-term plans. Both sides using the gas pump as a political tool to win over voters burdened with rising energy costs. But is it all hot hair? Are they empty gimmicks or real solutions? Listen to McCain‘s short-term plan on energy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: In the short term, I‘d like to give you a little relief for the summer on the gas tax. I will authorize and support new exploration and production of America‘s own oil and gas reserves. To add urgency to the mission, we‘ll offer a prize, 300 million dollars, one dollar for every citizen, for the creator of a battery package of a size, capacity, cost and power far surpassing existing technology.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: Now take a look at Obama‘s short-term plan, his list as he laid it out last week in Las Vegas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: What I will do is push for a second stimulus package that will send out another round of rebate checks to the American people. What I will do as president is tax the profits—the record profits of oil companies, and use the money to help struggling families pay their energy bills. I will provide a thousand dollar tax cut that will go to 95 percent of all workers and their families in this country, so they can help deal with rising costs of not just gas, but also food and medical costs.
I will close the loophole that allows corporations like Enron to engage in unregulated speculation that ends up artificially driving up the price of oil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: Pat Buchanan, can they both be accused of short-term gimmicks on this issue?
BUCHANAN: Yes, I think they can. Certainly, McCain‘s short-term thing is give back the gasoline tax. Barack Obama, you can go out and hang the oil company executives. You‘re going to put a windfall profit tax on them. You‘re going to close loopholes. Tell me how that gets one gallon of gasoline extra at the pump. Then he‘s going to give 50 billion dollars in rebates. How does that help solve the energy crisis in this country? These are all political gimmicks.
GREGORY: Go ahead, Joan.
WALSH: Thank you, David. I agree with Pat. But McCain isn‘t doing any better. I‘m going to go home tonight and I‘m going to start working on that battery that he‘s talking about, because I want the 300 million dollars.
GREGORY: I‘ve been in my basement all week.
WALSH: David, you‘ll beat me to it. You‘re smarter. Both these guys are talking about things that are way down the line, if at all going to have an impact. So I think they‘re pretty equal here.
GREGORY: All right. Ann, take a larger view here of the politics of the moment on this. We‘ve seen this before. You remember, we were covering the campaign back in 2000, Gore and Bush, the debate about tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserves. There‘s always this issue of what can you do to project empathy that you get the problem and you‘ll do something to alleviate what everybody feels when they go to fill up their gas tank, which is, wow, that cost me a lot of money. It‘s costing me more. It‘s less that I‘ve got month to month, paycheck to paycheck.
KORNBLUT: Right. Back in 2000, we had the tax families that Bush trotted out at all his events. Now, I think we‘re seeing a lot of gas tax families, the candidates showing up at gas stations to talk about it. I think what‘s interesting is McCain is talking about giving a tax break this summer. He‘s not going to be president this summer no matter what happens. What‘s really interesting is the fact that they‘re both talking about long-term solutions. That‘s not something that was really real in past campaigns.
Now, they actually both agree in some large measure on what they would do. Neither of them would drill in ANWR, for example. Alaska is a state that‘s in play in this election. They‘re talking about serious solutions, not sort of surface ones. I think it‘s a measure of how real this issue in the campaign is this year compared to the last four and eight years.
GREGORY: Ed, what‘s interesting about too is that the only real difference—there‘s some difference in terms of short-term steps they would take. But exploration of oil and gas domestically is a major difference. There‘s a debate about that, whether if you were to start drilling, whether it would have any impact in the immediate term. Those who support it argue there‘s something like 18 billion barrels of oil in the area covered by the Federal Drilling Moratorium. On the other side, analysts say that you wouldn‘t get to anything that would affect gas prices until 2030.
SCHULTZ: That‘s exactly right. You know, David, there is something on the table right now, introduced by Senator Byron Dorgan, to go after the speculators in the market. It was a couple of months ago that John McCain opened the door, said that he would take a look at that. Barack Obama is definitely supporting it. So there might be some common ground there. When we‘re talking about immediate relief to the American people at the pump today, that legislation is something that might reel in the speculators, and it‘s something immediate. It‘s also something that the American people want to see done.
But the gas tax holiday is not going to do anything but give the speculators a chance to stay in the market. It won‘t be any real relief. The 300 million dollars is more like a game show. I don‘t know where—if you want to think—
WALSH: Come on, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Big idea, big idea. Why doesn‘t John McCain turn to GM and Ford and say, I‘m going to help you relieve your debt if you make an electric car that does 300 miles on a charge. That‘s really challenging American industry.
GREGORY: Let‘s go on to some of the longer term plans that they‘re talking about, because both sides really agree that‘s where a real dent will be made here. Obama versus McCain on long-term energy plans, both plan to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Which plan is more realistic? Listen to Obama‘s longer term vision?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I want to set up a cap and trade system here in United States that says to all sources, industries, businesses, says to them, if you guys are utilities, if you‘re generating large amounts of greenhouse gases, you‘re going to—we‘re going to put a price on that. I will invest 150 billion dollars, 15 billion dollars a year, over the next ten years in alternative sources of energy, like wind power and solar power and advanced bio diesel.
When it comes to the storage of nuclear materials, the recycling of nuclear materials, if we can figure that out effectively, then nuclear has some big advantages. The fact that it doesn‘t produce greenhouse gases being the most important one. So I‘m not somebody who rules it off the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: Now McCain‘s long-term proposals. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Nuclear energy is efficient. It is safe. It is proven. And it is essential to America‘s energy future to dramatically reduce carbon emissions.
I have proposed a new system of cap and trade. I‘m committed to investing two billion dollars every year for the next 15 years on clean coal technologies. Every year the federal government buys upwards of 60,000 cars and other vehicles, not including military or law enforcement vehicles. From now on, we‘re going to make those civilian vehicles flex fuel capable, plug-in hybrid or cars fueled by clean natural gas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: Pat Buchanan, here is the reality, these longer-term plans are difficult to digest and get into detail about for voters. One reality comes through really clearly, and that is that taking on climate change, working with the Europeans, which is something they care about a great deal, the climate change issue, is going to be dealt with. Both of them have proposals to limit carbon emissions from automobiles in this country.
BUCHANAN: David, that does not do anything to solve the energy problem. To me that is goo goo legislation. These fellows, look, what have we got? You‘ve got nuclear, oil, gas, coal, hydro-electric power. That is really the vast majority of the power and energy in this country. We‘ve got a thousand years worth of coal. These are serious—I know they‘re old technologies. This is what is going to solve this problem.
Wind and all that grass they‘re going to burn, this is preposterous. I think everybody that is realistic knows that. I do think McCain on this issue is beginning to wire himself in to the vast majority of the American people, who frankly look at the greenhouse gases as very, very exotic stuff that has no sense in terms of solving their problem.
SCHULTZ: David, I totally—
GREGORY: Ed, let me ask you this question, Ed. The issue—what McCain has been doing is taking a more activist approach, even if he‘s labeled in following kind of gimmicks to do it, to make the point that we‘ve got to be more activist about it on all fronts, including exploration. That‘s the big distinction between them in terms of solving this problem.
SCHULTZ: Well, exploration in what? Oil? The oil companies have got 6,000 leases right now that they‘re not even using. Let‘s get back to this renewable fuel situation that Pat apparently is against. First of all, when you talk about 150 billion dollars worth of investment into energy in this country, that‘s a jobs program. When you‘re talking about ethanol, you‘re talking about cellulosic Ethanol, that creates jobs in the heartland. I can guarantee you that the heartland is really the bread basket of us solving our energy problems in this country. That‘s where people want to invest, and cellulosic Ethanol, corn ethanol, it‘s gotten a bad rap in the media.
BUCHANAN: It deserves it.
SCHULTZ: No, it doesn‘t. John McCain went to Iowa and said he‘s against ethanol. Now how the heck is he going to win that state? You might as well give it to Barack Obama.
BUCHANAN: You‘re talking about winning states. It takes more energy to make that gallon of ethanol than the gallon is worth?
SCHULTZ: Pat, it does not take more energy. That is a fallacy. That is a media myth. It does not take more energy to make corn-based Ethanol. But even with that, we‘re moving forward with cellulosic ethanol and that‘s where the jobs.
GREGORY: Let me get in here for a second. I want to ask Anne Kornblut, again, the political reality of longer-term solutions. Either of these men get into office, then they have to start building a political case for big-time investments. Climate change is one thing, as I noted. There may be a real consensus to do that. But alternative sources of fuel, ending dependence on foreign sources of oil will require creating a U.S. market from some of these alternative fuel sources and taking some concrete steps to either, in the short-term, explore domestically or other political steps to really stand up to some of our larger sources of oil.
KORNBLUT: If gas prices continue to stay where they are or rise, neither one of these guys is going to have to worry about creating a market. There‘s goings to be a market. It‘s already altering people‘s lifestyles on a day-to-day basis. It‘s not the sort of theoretical wacky idea it may have been eight years ago. It‘s real.
But I think there‘s another point here, which is that there are global ramifications, both for ethanol, which affects food products around the world, but also for energy overall. It‘s a diplomatic issue. It‘s seen as a measure of how willing the United States is to work with our allies. For either one of these guys, it‘s not going to be again some theoretical, wacky issue. It‘s going to be part of the diplomatic tool that‘s used in discussing what to do with Afghanistan, in negotiating with Europeans about Iraq. It‘s really more than just talking about whether the ozone is going to go away or not.
GREGORY: We‘re going to take a break. This debate will be continued. We‘ll come back with three questions in the ‘08 race, including ripped from the headlines today, are guns back in the ‘08 debate now, when THE RACE returns.
GREGORY: We‘re back on three questions now on RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE. First, some latest video today, Barack Obama arriving at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., big fund-raiser tonight with Hillary Clinton. They are appearing together. He‘s going to be making a pitch to her donors, donors he will need as he tries to raise money going forward. He‘s also trying to retire some of Hillary Clinton‘s campaign debt.
Tomorrow they appear together in Unity, New Hampshire for the first time.
We‘re back her on THE RACE, focusing on the big issues of the campaign and the big questions of the ‘08 race. Back with us, Pat Buchanan, Anne Kornblut, Ed Schultz and Joan Walsh. Three questions here. Number one, what does John McCain have to do now to find the momentum. Pat Buchanan, do you think it‘s been lost over the past couple weeks? The Obama campaign certainly does, not surprisingly.
BUCHANAN: I think the Obama campaign has a point. John McCain has failed in these several months to energize the conservative Republicans, to energize the Evangelical base. He seemed to have sort of an eclectic campaign, where he picks a little bit from the progressive platform and a little bit from the conservative platform. He has not used the time well, David.
GREGORY: The question, Anne Kornblut, Obama says is failing to take advantage while they were still in primary mode of getting his ground game down pat. Going into these tough states and having the operatives, having all the architecture and structure that Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman put together in 2004 so successfully. The Democrats have studied that model. I talked to a Republican who said there‘s not anybody at the RNC like a Ken or a Karl now.
KORNBLUT: All those master minds have moved on, both Ken and Karl. You‘re right, David Plouffe, who is the Obama campaign manager, was here in Washington yesterday. He briefed a bunch of us reporters, went through his 50-state strategy. He talked about the purveyors of enthusiasm who are going to be out advocating for Barack Obama at the grass roots level. You see nothing comparable to that on the McCain side. In fact, he‘s not even come up with a consistent message that he sticks to week to week.
To answer your question, maybe he needs to pick a vice president, a nominee. Maybe he needs to do something big and bold to get the headlines again. He hasn‘t done it.
GREGORY: One of the things I would say is that certainly they‘re focused on the energy debate, where they think there‘s traction, and chipping away at the brand of Barack Obama as a new kind of politics, changing the ways of Washington. Again, we talked about it time and again. McCain is going to spend time trying to grab that change mantle from Barack Obama. He cannot give that to him. He cannot cede that ground.
Second question tonight, turn the tables on Barack Obama, as McCain campaign did. Where is the proof of Barack Obama‘s bipartisanship in a real way. Pat Buchanan?
BUCHANAN: I think McCain‘s got a very good case here. After all, there‘s McCain-Feingold, McCain-Lieberman, McCain-Kennedy, the Gang of 14. So McCain does have a bipartisan image there. I‘m not sure this is that good an issue for John McCain. The key to the victory for the Republicans is to paint Barack Obama, who is the issue, as outside the mainstream. He represents change, but utterly unacceptable and risky change. If McCain and the Republicans can‘t do the that, David, they‘re going to lose this election.
GREGORY: All right. Let me move on. We‘re running out of time. Third question, has the high court with its decision today on hand guns put guns back in the middle of this campaign debate. Joan, what do you say?
WALSH: I think it has at least for a few days. Barack Obama had a hard day. He had sounded before like he supported the D.C. Handgun ban. Now he said he really didn‘t. He won‘t say if he supports a similar ban in Chicago. It‘s put him on the defensive for a couple days at least.
GREGORY: Ed, there‘s a debate that‘s going to go forward state to state here about whether this decision allows for more restriction of handguns, if not an out right ban. That could be a state-to-state debate that these candidates could get caught up in.
SCHULTZ: It could. They‘ll try to portray Barack Obama as a gun grabber. The other G word probably is going to stick out a lot more, and that‘s gas.
GREGORY: Right, you think a bigger issue. It‘s something that liberals and that Democrats since 2000 have wanted to stay away from, the gun control debate, particularly when Barack Obama is trying to play for votes in states like Colorado, other battleground states where rural voters are going to matter.
We‘ve got to take a break. We‘ll come back. Our remaining moments, your play date with the panel, only on RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE.
GREGORY: Remaining moments here, your play date with the panel. Back with us, the panel you want to play with. Here they are, Pat and Ed and Joan. Joanna from New York asks a very interesting question in this e-mail; “with the news that Hillary Clinton will be hitting the campaign trail with Barack Obama on Friday and the possibility that Bill Clinton will do the same as well at some point, what are the chances that Obama will ask that other Clinton, Chelsea, to campaign for him on college campuses?”
It‘s actually a pretty interesting idea, Joan.
WALSH: I think it‘s a great idea. You know who it helps with? Not just college kids. It helps with another important constituency, and that is Bill Clinton. I think if Obama wants to make things up with Bill Clinton, there‘s no better thing to do than to elevate his daughter and flatter Bill Clinton that way. Chelsea was a great asset to her mom on the campaign trail.
GREGORY: Anne, how much time do you think Obama is going to spend actually trying to flatter Bill Clinton? There‘s a sense within the Obama campaign that the Clinton they need to focus on is Hillary Clinton. Look, they want to move beyond Bill Clinton. That‘s kind of the point of the campaign.
KORNBLUT: They‘re not pleased with all the drama that this has involved, the ending of this primary has involved. That‘s one reason we‘ve seen no one call Bill Clinton yet, even though he‘s been out of the country, which helps. It will happen eventually, but they don‘t feel they need to win over Bill Clinton as a vote of one, but rather Hillary Clinton and her supporters.
BUCHANAN: You know, David, let me disagree. I think if Barack Obama is a big man, if I were him, I‘d pick up the phone and call Bill Clinton and meet with him. He can certainly help you in Arkansas. He can certainly help you in a lot of areas where he‘s tremendously popular. Bring in Chelsea. And I think Hillary Clinton is ready to come and work for this guy. If he‘s a big man, I think he‘ll reach out. I think it would be a smart thing to do.
SCHULTZ: Pat, he has reached out to the Clintons time and time again. He‘s taken the high road every single time. I think the Clintons need to come to the party and enjoy it.
BUCHANAN: That‘s the wrong attitude to win, my friend, I tell you.
WALSH: I agree with Pat.
BUCHANAN: Yes, Pat is right.
SCHULTZ: What do you want Barack Obama to do?
GREGORY: Let me move on. I have an e-mail here from Julie in Switzerland—I think it‘s always fun when we get something from Switzerland. She writes this; “I live in the European Union and everyone I talk to loves Barack Obama and thinks he as president would help restore trust in the US across the world. Wouldn‘t it help for Obama to travel not only to Iraq, but also to the EU, China, et cetera, for public relations purposes. The American public needs to see how much people in other countries adore him and relish in the idea of him becoming president.”
In fact, we know, Anne, there is going to be a bit of a trip. I don‘t know if he will go to China. But he may go to Europe as part of a trip to Afghanistan and Iraq.
KORNBLUT: Yes, that‘s right. Although, in past elections, John Kerry obviously didn‘t benefit from the perception that he was part French. I think the viewer—I think it‘s a real testament to you, David, Mr. Intercontinental, people writing in from Switzerland. I think she‘s absolutely right. For Americans who are concerned about our image around the world, I think for some people that really would help to show that he could restore standing. I think both candidates are going to try to do that.
BUCHANAN: Mistake, David. I think going to Europe—what Barack Obama has got to do is convince Americans he‘s a mainstream middle American guy. That ad, the kid from Kansas, is what he needs to do, not hang out in Paris somewhere.
SCHULTZ: I think he ought to go to Russia. I think the relations with the Russians can definitely be a lot better. Putin and Bush didn‘t go exactly the way Bush thought it was going to do. He‘s on the Foreign Relations Committee. Barack Obama goes to Russia could really put him on a good platform.
GREGORY: It is interesting that anything he can do to get time on the stage as a potential commander in chief probably helps him with that threshold need he has, that test he has to pass against John McCain, particularly since John McCain is traveling a good deal. He will be in Columbia and probably go back to Iraq before it‘s done.
We‘re going to leave it there. Thanks so much for a great panel here on RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE. You can email us every night here at RACE08@MSNBC.com. Also, you can call us 212-790-2299. That is the program. I‘m David Gregory. Thanks very much to the panel. Thank you for watching. We‘ll be back here tomorrow night, same time 6:00 p.m. Eastern, only on MSNBC. Stay where you are, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now.
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