Sweet blog special: Clinton’s Sunday talk show sweep. Transcripts. ABC News. CNN. Fox. Meet the Press.

SHARE Sweet blog special: Clinton’s Sunday talk show sweep. Transcripts. ABC News. CNN. Fox. Meet the Press.
SHARE Sweet blog special: Clinton’s Sunday talk show sweep. Transcripts. ABC News. CNN. Fox. Meet the Press.

WASHINGTON–I’ll try to post the transcripts as they come out on this unusual Sunday morning where White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) does all five of the political shows. She’s rarely a guest and booked the shows to make an overwhelming use of free media to talk about her health care plan.

She just finished on FOX News Sunday where she sparred with host Chris Wallace a small bit when he asked about the right wing coming after Bill and Hill.

Click below for the ABC News, CNN, Fox and Meet the Press transcripts…


Sen. Clinton on Sen. Obamas public financing legislation: I’m going to cosponsor anything that looks like it can move us in that direction, because my view on this is we’re not going to get anything done at this point with the president, with, unfortunately, a Republican minority that engages in filibustering, but we’re going to try to build a commitment to doing it.

Sen. Clinton on her healthcare plan and illegal immigrants: No, they would not be covered. I will continue to have a safety net, which I think is in the best traditions of our country and, also, for public health reasons, absolutely necessary.

This morning on This Week Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) joined George Stephanopoulos for her first This Week interview since declaring her candidacy. They discussed her new healthcare plan, her bid for the party’s nomination and the situation in Iraq.

A transcript of the interview, which aired this morning, Sunday, September 23, 2007, on ABC News This Week with George Stephanopoulos, is below. On our roundtable, David Brooks of the New York Times, E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post, and ABC News Cokie Roberts and George Will join Mr. Stephanopoulos to debate the weeks politics. Plus, renowned filmmaker Ken Burns on his new seven-part documentary series that explores the history and horror of WWII, the Second World War, from an American perspective.

All excerpts must be attributed to ABC News This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Visit the This Week website to read more about the show at: http://abcnews.go.com/politics

Katherine OHearn is the executive producer of This Week and George Stephanopoulos is the anchor. The program airs Sundays on the ABC Television Network (check local listings).



September 23, 2007


QUESTION: Good morning, everyone.

When First Lady Hillary Clinton was pushing for national healthcare in 1994, her husband punctuated his State of the Union Address with this challenge to Congress.


Now, it’s presidential candidate Hillary Clinton who’s starting all over again with a new healthcare plan that became the focus of the campaign this week, and Senator Clinton is our headliner this morning.

Good morning, Senator.

CLINTON: Good morning, George.

QUESTION: Let’s begin with that moment from 1994. Would President Hillary Clinton make the same pledge in 2009?

CLINTON: Well, George, I think we’ve all learned a lot since then and my goal has remained the same. I believe, for the sake of our country, it’s an economic necessity to have healthcare for everyone that is quality and affordable, but I think it’s also now an economy necessity.

So I’m going to work as hard as I can as president to achieve quality, affordable coverage for everyone. But having now served on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, I know how important it is to work with the Congress, to enlist them, to have them be involved from the very beginning and, frankly, to have ownership.

There are so many people in the Congress, frankly, on both sides of the aisle who have been incredibly supportive and positive about reforming our healthcare system.

I’ve put out my plan, the American Health Choices Plan, which I think would get us there with the least disruption by giving people a chance to keep what they have, if they’re satisfied, moving people who are uninsured or not satisfied with what they have into the federal employees health benefit plan, providing a wide array of choices, providing tax credits so that individuals can afford it and, also, small business, modernizing the system through electronic medical records and chronic care management and so much else.

So I think I’ve taken a lot of the good ideas that are not all mine, by many means, but are ideas that have been percolating since ’93-’94, and I believe that we can put together a consensus to achieve the goal that many of us share.

QUESTION: So it sounds like you wouldn’t want to take that same confrontational approach. But as you know, a lot of your Democratic opponents are using — are saying that experience is not a badge of honor.

Senator Dodd said this week it was terribly mismanaged in 1993 and 1994. Senator Edwards said you learned the wrong lesson. Senator Biden the other night said you’re just too divisive to get this done.

And why wouldn’t it be better to have a president who could take a fresh start, who doesn’t bear, as you say, the scars of that experience?

CLINTON: Well, I think the country bears the scars. You know, since we weren’t successful, we’ve seen millions of more people without insurance and many millions more who have insurance, except when they really need it and the insurance company tells their doctor or the hospital they won’t pay for the needed treatment.

And I think that what is so uniquely American about the American experience is that, you know, you get knocked down, you get back. I’ve learned a lot and I think I now know better how to do what — there is a consensus-building that we must do.

I bring all of those lessons with me. I have never lost my commitment to making it possible for our country to be smart economically and to be morally on the right track and make it possible for us to get healthcare for everyone, and that’s what my campaign’s about and that’s what I’m going to do as president.

QUESTION: One of the ways you get to universal — you say universal healthcare — is with this requirement that individuals buy health insurance, carry health insurance.

Senator Fred Thompson took aim at that idea on his website. Take a look.


What’s your response?

CLINTON: Well, he has said a lot of things. In fact, we’re going to work with the Congress to figure out how to make this concept a shared responsibility, workable, practical, enforceable.

I have no preconceptions about how’s the best way to do it. But unless we have shared…

QUESTION: But that is one of the ways to do it, isn’t it?

CLINTON: Well, there are a lot of ways to do it and, obviously, what is happening in Massachusetts, what’s being considered in California will inform our thinking.

Look, there are only a couple of ways to get universal healthcare. Everybody knows that. The Democrats are all united. We have similar plans, with some variations among us, but we are all committed to doing what we must do.

I’m waiting for any Republican candidate to come out with a plan that can be really scrutinized, that we can ask hard questions about. It seems as though they’re in the “just say no” category and I don’t think that’s good for the country.

So I actually look forward to debating in the general election over whether, when, how we can achieve universal healthcare, because I believe that if you listen to business, if you listen to labor, if you listen to doctors, nurses, hospitals and, more importantly, families in America, they’re saying “This just doesn’t add up. You mean, we’re the richest country, we’re a smart country, and we can’t figure out how to put together the pieces to provide quality, affordable healthcare.”

I reject that. And what the president has proposed, what some of the Republican candidates running for president have talked about is totally unworkable. It’ll increase the number of uninsured. It’ll continue to raise costs.

So tell them to put their plans out on the table and then we’ll join the debate.

QUESTION: I will when they…

CLINTON: But “just say no” or to kind of cast aspersions on what we on the Democratic side are going to do is just not going to cut it in this election year.

QUESTION: Would illegal immigrants be covered under your plan?

CLINTON: I’m sorry. I couldn’t hear you that time, George.

QUESTION: Would illegal immigrants be covered under your plan?

CLINTON: Illegal immigrants…


CLINTON: … would not be covered. No, they would not be covered. I will continue to have a safety net, which I think is in the best traditions of our country and, also, for public health reasons, absolutely necessary.

But we did not cover them in ’93-’94 and my plan does not cover them now.

QUESTION: Let me turn to the issues of national security and I want to get into it with — by showing you a moment from the Emmy Awards last week, believe it or not. You may have seen it. Sally Field won an Emmy Award. She plays a mom who’s son is sent off to Afghanistan and she accepted the award with this tribute to mothers.

Take a look.


Are mothers less likely to take nations to war?

CLINTON: Well, George, we’ve had women in positions of leadership in countries around the world. Some have, some haven’t. I think it’s more important that the person make the right decisions about what we should be doing.

And it’s not only mothers, but fathers, husbands, wives, children, loved ones who are waiting and hoping that their son, daughter, husband, wife come home safely.

That’s why I’m so much in favor and pushing hard to begin to withdraw our troops from Iraq.

This is the great debate that we’re having in the country and it seems as though the country is on one side and the White House and the Republicans in the Senate are on another side.

And I think we’ve got to make some decisions here that will extricate us from Iraq. But if the president doesn’t do that before he leaves office, when I’m president, I will.

QUESTION: You’ve said that several times. But, you know, a group of us met with the president last week and it was clear from that meeting that he thinks whoever succeeds him is going to play Eisenhower to his Truman, rail against the foreign policies during the campaign, but then maintain them in some form once that person becomes president.

And you have said that we are going to need a continuing presence in Iraq to do several things, to complete several missions. So that does mean that there will be thousands of U.S. troops throughout your presidency, if you win, isn’t that correct?

CLINTON: Well, if you look at the proposals that I have voted for since 2005, that I voted for again just last week, Senator Feingold’s proposal, we are trying to withdraw in a responsible way.

I’ve been in the midst of this since last spring when I asked the Pentagon to tell us whether or not they were planning for a withdrawal, because I had been told by many of my friends in the military, both active duty and retired, that there wasn’t sufficient planning going on.

Clearly, withdrawing is dangerous. It has to be done responsibly, prudently, carefully, but we have said that there will be a likely continuing mission against Al Qaida in Iraq. We have to protect our civilian employees, our embassy that will be there.

We also, if there is a continuing opportunity to really train and help stand up, as they say, the Iraqi army, as General Jones reported in his commission report, that may be a continuing commitment. And I have long said we need to make sure we protect the Kurds both from problems from the Arabs in Iraq and protect them from themselves when it comes to ending terrorism that might emanate from their territory.

So I think that there are some limited missions, but the numbers we’re talking about are very much smaller than what we have there, and the missions would be better…

QUESTION: Certainly…

CLINTON: … the missions would be better defined. I mean, one of our problems is the changing mission definition that this president has been unable and unwilling to put forth.

QUESTION: Excuse me. The estimates I’ve seen of those missions, even those limited missions, you’re still talking about anywhere from 40,000 to 75,000 troops for many years.

CLINTON: Well, I don’t think that’s accurate. I’m not going to be speculating about troop strength. I’ve said that the day I’m elected president, I will be asking my secretary of defense, my national security advisors, the joint chiefs to brief me about what actually the state of planning is, because we’re having some difficulties really understanding what they’re doing over in the Pentagon, under the White House’s direction.

And then we will begin to withdraw our troops, but it has to be done, as I said, in a responsible, careful manner. We don’t know what we’re going to inherit. None of us do. We don’t know what’s going to be done in the last 15 months of the Bush-Cheney administration.

Obviously, as president, I will have to take all of that into account and try to make the very best decisions I have. But there is no doubt, in my mind, we’re going to be withdrawing from Iraq, because the Iraqi government has not fulfilled its part of the bargain, which was to make the tough political decisions.

And, frankly, the Bush administration hasn’t fulfilled its diplomatic responsibilities either. So all of this has to be pulled together. I hope it happens in the next 15 months, but if it doesn’t, it will happen immediately upon my becoming president.

QUESTION: Can you pledge that all U.S. troops will be home over the course of your first term as president?

CLINTON: You know, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals and make pledges, because I don’t know what I’m going to inherit, George.

I don’t know and neither do any of us know what will be the situation in the region. How much more aggressive will Iran have become? What will be happening in the Middle East? How much more of an influence will the chaos in Iraq have in terms of what’s going on in the greater region? Will we have pushed Al Qaida in Iraq out of their stronghold with our new partnership with some of the tribal sheikhs or will they have regrouped and retrenched?

I don’t know and I think it’s not appropriate to be speculating. I can tell you my general principals and my goal. I want to end the war in Iraq. I want to do so carefully, responsibly, with the withdrawal of our troops, also, with the withdrawal of a lot of our civilian employees, the contractors who are there, and the Iraqis who have sided with us.

We have a huge humanitarian refugee crisis on our hands. We have millions of Iraqis who have been displaced, some internally, some into other countries.

The problems we’re going to face because of the failed policies and the poor decision-making of this administration are rather extraordinary and difficult and I don’t want to speculate about how we’re going to be approaching it until I actually have the facts in my hand and the authority to be able to make some decisions.

QUESTION: Let me ask you a question about your past votes. You’ve said on several occasions that your vote for the Iraq war resolution was not a vote for war, but was intended to demonstrate the support for going to the United Nations.

But as you know, a lot of your Democratic colleagues disagree. They thought it was a vote for war and Senator Levin offered an alternative resolution that would have required the president to go to the United Nations and come back to Congress if they failed to get a resolution.

If you wanted to demonstrate support for going to the United Nations, why didn’t you vote for that Levin amendment?

CLINTON: For several reasons. First, historical reasons, you might recall that when my husband wanted to go and do what was necessary to end ethnic cleansing and to stop the spread of violence in Europe, he tried to get Congressional approval and, under the Republican Congress, was unable to do so.

He thought it important to put together a coalition for Bosnia and Kosovo, which he did. I think that there has to be a delicate balance here. I don’t believe we should give veto power to the United Nations or any international group, although I certainly favor being involved in and working with and building up international…

QUESTION: Senator Levin denied that that was giving the…

CLINTON: … forces and groups. Well, that is how I assessed it at the time and, you know, we had a disagreement at the time. I’ve said on many occasions I made a sincere decision based on my best assessment of the evidence at the time.

Obviously, if I had known then what President Bush would have done, I would not have voted to give him the authority.

But the real issue now is what do we do going forward. We still have Americans dying. We still have Iraqis dying. We have Americans being injured. We have a deterioration in the condition on the ground.

We’ve got Shiite militias fighting in the south. We’ve got ethnic cleansing in Baghdad. We’ve got Al Qaida in Iraq.

We have all kinds of problems right now and I don’t see this administration and their allies in the Congress really facing up to the very difficult decisions that I think we should be addressing.

QUESTION: How about the broader war on terror? Back after 9/11, President Bush came to the Congress and gave a message to the world. He said, “You’re either for us or against us,” and then he continued in this vein.


That became known as the “Bush doctrine.” Would it also be the Clinton doctrine?

CLINTON: Well, George, it’s hard to separate an alleged doctrine from its implementation. Unfortunately, in my view, the president has alienated both our friends and emboldened our enemies.

I think we have to be serious about the threat of global terrorism, but I believe that, by now, we should have concluded that we cannot effectively combat global terrorism unless we have people rooting for us all over the world, unless we have people who are willing to turn to their own law enforcement and intelligence agencies in order to report and prevent attacks and their planning.

So I think we’ve got to get back to doing what America historically has done very well — leading with our values, as well as our strength.

I think we can be both strong and smart and I know we’ve got a lot of repair work to do around the world. We have, unfortunately, set so many people against us that we need now to be working with us.

I’m going to be very tough on terrorism. As a Senator from New York, I mean, that is something that I care deeply, passionately about. The first obligation of a president is to protect and defend the United States of American and I believe we can be smarter about how we pursue terrorists around the world and protect ourselves here at home.

But we’ve got to make it clear to those who would permit or even encourage terrorists against us, our friends or our allies, that, yes, we’re going to take actions against them and we’ve got to enlist more people in this struggle.

This is not just the terrorists against us. This is the terrorists against all kinds of people across the world, and we’ve got to have a better sense of international commitment and alliance.

QUESTION: Mayor Giuliani came at you pretty hard this week on several fronts and your national campaign co-chair, former Governor Tom Vilsack of Ohio, went back at Mayor Giuliani. This was on “New York One.” Listen.


Was that a brush-back pitch?

CLINTON: You know, Governor Vilsack has said that he was wrong in saying that and I agree, he was. We are not running a campaign that goes down that road.

We’re trying to stay focused on the issues, stay focused on the differences between me and the Republicans. We’re mostly focused on figuring out how we can try to help end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home, because I think that this election is a real turning point election.

We’ve got to have a great debate in this country about what our next president will do, what kinds of decisions will be made. There’s a lot of economic uncertainty in America right now, for good reason, because a lot of people feel like they’re not getting ahead. They’re falling further behind.

So on healthcare, on the economy, on education, on all of the issues that I’m talking about in my campaign, I look forward to really joining the debate with the Republicans and whomever my Republican opponent is, that’s what we’re going to be talking about.

QUESTION: Mayor Giuliani also hit you pretty hard for failing early on to condemn that MOVEON.ORG, which called General Petraeus “General Betray Us.”

Why not speak out earlier?

CLINTON: I don’t condone attacks on any American who has served our country honorably and with dedication the way General Petraeus has. I’ve said over many years how much I admire him, respect him. He’s been dealt a difficult hand and he’s doing the best job he can under the circumstances.

I also don’t condone attacks on great Americans like Max Cleland and John Kerry, who have also served our country. But this is not a debate about an ad. This is a debate about ending the war in Iraq. You know, as usually, I think the Republicans, because they continue to support the failed policy of this president, are looking for any way to change the subject.

Well, we’re not going to let them. You know, they continue to vote in the Congress to support President Bush and his policies and we are going to do everything we can to change them.

Now, if we cannot change the policies, we’re going to do whatever we can to build the consensus in the country to elect a Democratic president in the White House — obviously, I hope it’s me — so that we can begin to end President Bush’s war.

QUESTION: Let me ask you a question about campaign finance and Norman Hsu. We’re going to show him now. Of course, he’s the gentleman who’s now been arrested. You had to return about $850,000 that he raised for your campaign.

And I know that you returned the money, but a lot of people look at this and say they’re afraid that they’re going to go back to the days of 1996, where there were some campaign finance violations that many Democrats feel cost President Clinton a couple of points in the final days of the election.

How do you assure them that’s not going to happen again?

CLINTON: Well, George, this was an unfortunate situation. My campaign and about two dozen other campaigns looked hard at our donors. We always do.

We all missed this. We missed the fact that there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest. As soon as we found out, we took action.

I think that we’ve done all we can do at these point, including returning the money. But I believe that the only answer to this entire set of circumstances is public financing, something that I strongly support, that I’m going to try to do when I’m president, because there is no doubt that the cost of campaigns, particularly to try to get on television with our advertising and all the things that people have to do in a modern campaign are just out of control.

It’s not good…

QUESTION: Will you cosponsor…

CLINTON: … for the country and it’s not good for the system.

QUESTION: Will you cosponsor the legislation on public financing that Senator Obama has introduced?

CLINTON: I’m going to cosponsor anything that looks like it can move us in that direction, because my view on this is we’re not going to get anything done at this point with the president, with, unfortunately, a Republican minority that engages in filibustering, but we’re going to try to build a commitment to doing it.

There are some ideological, philosophical, even constitutional objections, but I think we can overcome those and I don’t see any choice. We’ve got to do it.

Otherwise, the campaigns are going to continue to do the very best we can. We’ve even added additional background check work that we think is called for.

But at the end of the day, we should be moving toward public financing.

QUESTION: You know, Senator, we’re just about out of time. I just want to ask you one final question.

You’ve seen the presidency from a perspective unlike any first-time candidate ever in America history, up close unlike any first-time candidacy in presidential history.

So you know a lot about being president, but what is something that you don’t know, that only a president can know?

CLINTON: Well, George, as you have just said, I’ve seen the presidency in a very front row seat on history way and I know how hard this job is and, you know, you read books about it, you can think hard about it and, of course, people running for president do.

But it is hard to be prepared for the pressure cooker that the American presidency is today. We have only one person in our country who represents both our state and our government. Most countries divide those responsibilities.

So you’re the symbolic head of state and you are running the government. And every single day that goes by, the pressures increase with a 24/7 media environment, with all of the advances in communication. You have to be grounded. You have to know what you believe. You have to be guided by what you think are the right principles for your country.

But there is still no predicting what is going to happen on your watch. And, you know, I know how hard it is and I think following President Bush, with some of the problems we have, will make it especially hard.

But I’m also confident and optimistic that our country can rise to this challenge. I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think that I was the person at this point in our history who could summons that extraordinary resilience and commitment from America again.

And I think that we will be able to start both repairing the damage, but, more importantly, starting to act like Americans, solving our problems, restoring our leadership in the world, and that’s what I look forward to.

QUESTION: Senator Clinton, thanks very much for your time this morning.

CLINTON: Great to talk to you, George.



On today’s edition of CNN’s “Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer,” Senator Hillary Clinton, democrat of New York and presidential candidate, spoke about Iraq, Iran, the MoveOn.org advertisement in The New York Times, and criticism from both parties on her recently unveiled health care plan. Highlighted excerpts are below, and a full transcript follows.

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNNs Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer


Highlighted Excerpts

On the Bush administrations policy in Iraq

CLINTON: I think what has become clear though, Wolf, is that the president has no intention of changing his policy in Iraq. He is now talking about leaving it to his successor. And as our system works, as you well know, if a president vetoes or a president has enough members of his party to stand in the way, even if you have a majority, although as small as ours is, you can’t get it done So it is frustrating, there is no doubt that the country voted for change in Iraq. The president still, under our system, has sufficient authority and support to avoid making those changes. That is why I have said that if he does not extricate us from Iraq before the end of his term, when I am president, I will, as quickly and responsibly as I can.

On MoveOn.orgs advertisement in The New York Times

CLINTON: I have voted against it. I mean, I’ve voted for Senator Boxer’s resolution, which condemned that attack, and also condemned the attacks on Senator Cleland and Senator Kerry. I don’t condone it. I voted to condemn it.

But again, I would underscore, let’s be clear what’s going on here. This is an effort to focus on an ad that I condemned and don’t condone in order to avoid having to deal with the tough questions about our policy in Iraq. The policy has failed. The president was able to hang on to it because he has enough Republican support. It’s going to be an issue in the ’08 election, and I hope that we will be electing more Democrats, because that is the way to really change direction in our country.

On Irans role in Iraq

BLITZER: Do you believe, as General Petraeus testified, that Iranians are supplying sophisticated weaponry to their allies in Iraq that winds up killing American soldiers?

CLINTON: Yes, I believe that Iran is playing a very dangerous game in Iraq in supporting all kinds of groups, to attack our forces, to destabilize the Iraqi government, to further their goals in Iraq. I believe that includes the provision of weapons and training.

So this is one of the results of the policies that have been pursued by the Bush administration, that Iran is in a much stronger position today than it was, and we’ve got to have a united international front against Iran, and most especially against Iran acquiring the capacity for nuclear weapons.

I believe there’s a bipartisan consensus, and I think we’ve got to be smarter about how we try to implement it. It will remain one of my principal concerns. I’ve spoken out about it for several years, and I will continue to try to do what I can as senator, and certainly when I become president, to prevent Iran from having the threat of influence that it is now enjoying, not only vis-a-vis Iraq, but with Hezbollah and Lebanon, now supporting Hamas in Gaza. We’ve got to get back to, you know, being smart and strong, not just throwing our weight around and seeing the situation deteriorate, as it has over the last years.

On Columbia University inviting Iranian President Ahmadinejad to speak

CLINTON: Well, if I were a president of the university, I would not have invited him. He’s a Holocaust denier. He’s a supporter of terrorism. But I also respect the right in our country to make different decisions.

I thought Ground Zero, which called for public support to the NYPD and the city, was clearly out of bounds. So I think that we have to do everything we can to undermine his standing, his position, his leadership, his demagoguery, but I think the way to do that is by building an international coalition with enforceable sanctions and a strong diplomatic effort, and that’s what I’m focused on.

On Rudy Giulianis criticism Clintons recently unveiled health care plan

CLINTON: Well, you know, the Republicans were attacking my plan before it ever came out. And back to the same old tired rhetoric.

This is not government-run health care. This creates not a single new government bureaucracy. This is the American Health Choices plan. If you’re satisfied with what you have, you keep it. But if you’re one of the 47 million uninsured Americans, or one of the millions more with insurance except when you need it, the insurance company won’t pay your doctor or your hospital for your treatment, then this is a very great opportunity for you to have the same choices that members of Congress do.

We’re going to open up the congressional plan to every American. We’re going to give you access to that health choices menu. And if it’s not affordable, we’re going to provide health care tax credits, and also to small business, so that they can play a greater role.

In addition, we’re going to modernize our system through the use of electronic medical records, better care of chronic care patients. Because right now, Wolf, we spend more than anybody in the world by 50 percent, we don’t always get the best outcomes. And I challenge the Republicans to come forth with a plan that will cover every American, control costs and improve quality. That is what my plan will do. And I’m waiting to see what their plans are.

On the Edwards criticism of her health care plan

BLITZER: Elizabeth Edwards and her husband, John Edwards, the Democratic presidential candidate, they say basically that you have just copied Senator Edwards’ plan and that is what you are doing. Do you want to respond to that?

CLINTON: Well, I have been for universal health care covered for 14 years. And I have worked to try to make progress by helping to design and pass a children’s health insurance program and extend health care coverage to the families of our National Guard and Reserves. And I welcome everyone to the fight for quality affordable health care for everyone.

I think it is important that the Democrats are all on the same page. We all want to have a system that covers everybody. The Republicans don’t. And that is a great divide. But I am very happy to have as many allies as possible in this fight I have been waging for 14 years.

You know, it was a kind of lonely struggle back then.

Full Transcript


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Clinton, thanks very much for joining us. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you so much for having me, Wolf. I’m glad to be with you.

BLITZER: As you know, a lot of people believe the Democrats won the majority in the Senate and the House, the primary responsibility they say you had was to end this war in Iraq. It has been now almost a year since you have become the majority. You have failed in this mission. I’m referring to all the Democrats, not you necessarily personally.

What happened? Why can’t you stop this war?

CLINTON: Well, Wolf, I think it is clear that the country wants to extricate us from Iraq and bring our troops home. The Democrats certainly do, and a few Republicans are willing to side with us.

But in order to get anything, you have got to have the votes to do it. And I’m very proud of the Democratic majority. We have consistently voted to try to change the policy in Iraq.

Unfortunately, we have most of the Republicans in the Senate continuing to side with the president. That has meant that we have not been able to pass what we need to with the 60 votes necessary to send something to the president.

Of course, he has said he would veto it. I think what has become

BLITZER: But, Senator, you have the

CLINTON: I think what has become clear though, Wolf, is that the president has no intention of changing his policy in Iraq. He is now talking about leaving it to his successor. And as our system works, as you well know, if a president vetoes or a president has enough members of his party to stand in the way, even if you have a majority, although as small as ours is, you can’t get it done.

Now the answer for this is, let’s elect more Democrats in 2008. That will help solve the problem.

BLITZER: But you do have the power of the purse. You could simply stop funding the Pentagon. You could stop funding the war if you wanted to, to

make your point, which you have avoided doing as the Democrats as a whole.

CLINTON: Well, I have, as you know, starting last spring-early summer, voted against continued funding for the war because I have reached the conclusion that the best way to support our troops is begin bringing them home.

And I don’t believe we should continue to vote for funding that has an open-ended commitment, that has no pressure on the Iraqi government to make the tough political decisions they have to make, or which really gives any urgency to the Bush administration’s diplomatic efforts.

So I have reached that conclusion. And I think that it is unfortunate because we know that even if we are successful on that, the president will veto it. So it is frustrating, there is no doubt that the country voted for change in Iraq. The president still, under our system, has sufficient authority and support to avoid making those changes. That is why I have said that if he does not extricate us from Iraq before the end of his term, when I am president, I will, as quickly and responsibly as I can.

BLITZER: Here is what the president said the other day about how the war is going right now. Listen to this.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some say the gains we are making in Iraq come too late. They are mistaken. It is never too late to deal a blow to Al Qaida. It is never too late to advance freedom. And it is never too late to support our troops in a fight they can win.


BLITZER: Senator Clinton, Al Qaida may not have been in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, but they are certainly there now, almost everyone agrees on that. Does the president have a point when he says the United States must stay in Iraq, in part at least, to fight Al Qaida?

CLINTON: Let me make three points about this, Wolf. Number one, there is no doubt that everyone agrees, except perhaps the president, there is no military solution in Iraq. That has been the constant refrain from military and other experts, that in the absence of the political decisions being made, you might have tactical gains on the ground, but you are not going to create a stable, secure Iraq.

Number two, I give great credit to our men and women in uniform. And their change in tactics, their focusing on particularly al Anbar province, going after Al Qaida in Iraq, allied with some of the Sunni tribal sheiks, has produced some results.

But it is only tactical. Even those who are implementing this policy of the president’s cannot tell us it will make America more safe, nor that it will lead to the kind of political decision-making that we have to expect from the Iraqis themselves.

And thirdly, I think that the failure of this policy, which has exacted such a toll on our forces in terms of deaths and injuries on the Iraqis, on the region, empowering and emboldening Iran, cannot be addressed in just a focus on the military side.

So if you give the president everything that he is claiming, that yes, we are now after Al Qaida; and yes, we now have a new alliance, the south is increasingly under Iranian influence, the British have withdrawn to a base, sectarian militias are fighting for advantage, Baghdad has been ethnically cleansed

BLITZER: But on the issue — excuse me for interrupting, Senator. On the issue of Al Qaida in Iraq, if you were president, would you still retain troops in Iraq to fight Al Qaida there?

CLINTON: Well, I have voted for that. That is one of the remaining missions, Wolf. I have voted for a remaining mission bringing home our — the bulk of our combat troops, but doing what we can to continue the counterterrorism effort against Al Qaida in Iraq, protecting our embassy and our civilian employees.

If the Iraqis change in accord with some of the recommendations by General Jones and his commission, continuing a training mission, and I have added, doing what we can to protect the Kurds. Those are among the limited missions that I think are really merited, and that I and others have continued to vote for. I voted for most of that just this week, when I voted for Senator Feingold’s amendment, to try to set a date to begin withdrawing our troops.

So there is no doubt that if we’re making progress against Al Qaida in Iraq, we want to continue that, but we don’t need 160,000 plus troops to do that, and the mission has to change. And that seems to be what the president really refuses to do.

BLITZER: The president also this week blasted Democrats for in effect supporting or at least remaining silent in the face of that Moveon.org “New York Times” ad questioning General David Petraeus’s — General David Betray Us. Listen to what the president said.


BUSH: Most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like Moveon.org, or more afraid of irritating them than they are of irritating the United States military. That was a sorry deal.


BLITZER: Is the president right?

CLINTON: Well, I thought it was pretty sorry when his campaign attacked Senator Kerry’s record of service, and I thought it was pretty sorry when the Republicans attacked Senator Cleland.

I don’t condone attacks by anyone on the patriotism and service of our military. I am an admirer of General Petraeus, as I’ve said on numerous occasions. I don’t condone it, and I joined in voting for a resolution that condemned such attacks.

But let’s be clear here. This debate should not be about an ad. This debate should be about the president’s failed policies. The Republicans are very good at coming up with political strategies, but unfortunately, they don’t seem to have a very adequate grasp of military or geopolitical strategies that will forward America’s standing, position, values and interests in the world.

So I think we ought to stay focused on what’s important — the war in Iraq — and not allow this debate to go off track. And I look forward to continuing to debate what we should be doing in Iraq, and I would invite the Republicans to join in that debate.

BLITZER: But quickly, do you want to disassociate yourself from that Moveon.org ad?

CLINTON: I have voted against it. I mean, I’ve voted for Senator Boxer’s resolution, which condemned that attack, and also condemned the attacks on Senator Cleland and Senator Kerry. I don’t condone it. I voted to condemn it.

But again, I would underscore, let’s be clear what’s going on here. This is an effort to focus on an ad that I condemned and don’t condone in order to avoid having to deal with the tough questions about our policy in Iraq. The policy has failed. The president was able to hang on to it because he has enough Republican support. It’s going to be an issue in the ’08 election, and I hope that we will be electing more Democrats, because that is the way to really change direction in our country.

BLITZER: Do you believe, as General Petraeus testified, that Iranians are supplying sophisticated weaponry to their allies in Iraq that winds up killing American soldiers?

CLINTON: Yes, I believe that Iran is playing a very dangerous game in Iraq in supporting all kinds of groups, to attack our forces, to destabilize the Iraqi government, to further their goals in Iraq. I believe that includes the provision of weapons and training.

So this is one of the results of the policies that have been pursued by the Bush administration, that Iran is in a much stronger position today than it was, and we’ve got to have a united international front against Iran, and most especially against Iran acquiring the capacity for nuclear weapons.

I believe there’s a bipartisan consensus, and I think we’ve got to be smarter about how we try to implement it. It will remain one of my principal concerns. I’ve spoken out about it for several years, and I will continue to try to do what I can as senator, and certainly when I become president, to prevent Iran from having the threat of influence that it is now enjoying, not only vis-a-vis Iraq, but with Hezbollah and Lebanon, now supporting Hamas in Gaza. We’ve got to get back to, you know, being smart and strong, not just throwing our weight around and seeing the situation deteriorate, as it has over the last years.

BLITZER: So with that in mind, was it a good idea for Columbia University to invite the leader of Iran, President Ahmadinejad, to come and deliver a lecture there this week?

CLINTON: Well, that’s a decision the university has to make. I was very much opposed to permitting him to go to Ground Zero. I thought that would have been a travesty, and I am pleased that will not happen.

But the real issue here is how do we get an international coalition to stand with us against Iran’s efforts to expand its influence and to obtain nuclear weapons? And I think that we haven’t handled that under the Bush policy as well as we could. I hope we’re going to try to make up for some lost time in the next 15 months. When President Bush outsourced our policy on Iran to the British, the French and the Germans, I thought that was a mistake.

We’ve lost valuable time…

BLITZER: Senator…

CLINTON: … and we’ve of course undermined our credibility. We need to rebuild our position in the world.

BLITZER: When you say it’s a decision that the Columbia University should make, what do you think, though? Is it appropriate for an American university to invite the president of Iran, who’s got a well known record on a lot of issues, to be received there and to deliver a speech?

CLINTON: Well, if I were a president of the university, I would not have invited him. He’s a Holocaust denier. He’s a supporter of terrorism.

But I also respect the right in our country to make different decisions.

I thought Ground Zero, which called for public support to the NYPD and the city, was clearly out of bounds. So I think that we have to do everything we can to undermine his standing, his position, his leadership, his demagoguery, but I think the way to do that is by building an international coalition with enforceable sanctions and a strong diplomatic effort, and that’s what I’m focused on.

BLITZER: You announced your new health care plan this week. Rudy Giuliani, arguably the Republican presidential frontrunner, he responded quickly to your plan. Listen to what he said.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NYC MAYOR: I think Hillary’s health care plan is a pretty clear march towards socialized medicine.


BLITZER: Toward socialized medicine. He didn’t waste much time saying that.

CLINTON: Oh, yes. Well, you know…

BLITZER: But I wonder if you want to respond to the former mayor.

CLINTON: Well, you know, the Republicans were attacking my plan before it ever came out. And back to the same old tired rhetoric.

This is not government-run health care. This creates not a single new government bureaucracy. This is the American Health Choices plan. If you’re satisfied with what you have, you keep it. But if you’re one of the 47 million uninsured Americans, or one of the millions more with insurance except when you need it, the insurance company won’t pay your doctor or your hospital for your treatment, then this is a very great opportunity for you to have the same choices that members of Congress do.

We’re going to open up the congressional plan to every American. We’re going to give you access to that health choices menu. And if it’s not affordable, we’re going to provide health care tax credits, and also to small business, so that they can play a greater role.

In addition, we’re going to modernize our system through the use of electronic medical records, better care of chronic care patients. Because right now, Wolf, we spend more than anybody in the world by 50 percent, we don’t always get the best outcomes. And I challenge the Republicans to come forth with a plan that will cover every American, control costs and improve quality. That is what my plan will do. And I’m waiting to see what their plans are.

BLITZER: Elizabeth Edwards and her husband, John Edwards, the Democratic presidential candidate, they say basically that you have just copied Senator Edwards’ plan and that is what you are doing. Do you want to respond to that?

CLINTON: Well, I have been for universal health care covered for 14 years. And I have worked to try to make progress by helping to design and pass a children’s health insurance program and extend health care coverage to the families of our National Guard and Reserves. And I welcome everyone to the fight for quality affordable health care for everyone.

I think it is important that the Democrats are all on the same page. We all want to have a system that covers everybody. The Republicans don’t. And that is a great divide. But I am very happy to have as many allies as possible in this fight I have been waging for 14 years.

You know, it was a kind of lonely struggle back then. But you know, now it is exciting to see that the Democrats are united and we are going in to the ’08 campaign with a strong position that is good for the economy, is good for families. It does rein in the insurance companies and the drug companies, which needs to happen, but it preserves and maximizes choice for Americans.

And I think that is what Americans are looking for, to have that choice at an affordable cost.

BLITZER: We have got to leave it there, Senator Clinton. It has been a busy day for you, thanks very much for joining us.

CLINTON: Thank you so much, great to talk to you, Wolf.

– END –


September 23, 2007





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SEPTEMBER 21, 2007









WALLACE: I’m Chris Wallace. And this is “Fox News Sunday.”

She’s the Democratic frontrunner in the race for president and for the first time in more than three years, she’s on “Fox News Sunday.” We continue our series “Choosing the President” with Senator Hillary Clinton.

Then is Clinton the toughest opponent for Republicans or the easiest? We’ll ask a man with his own presidential thoughts, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Plus, Iran’s president comes to New York. Should a major university give him a forum? We’ll ask our Sunday team: Brit Hume, Mara Liasson, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams.

And our Power Player of the Week, Ken Burns, making World War II as current as today, All right now on “Fox News Sunday.”

And good morning again from Fox News in Washington. Today we continue our series “Choosing the President” with the Democratic frontrunner, Senator Hillary Clinton, who joins us from her home in Chappaqua, New York.

And, Senator, welcome back to “Fox News Sunday.”

H. CLINTON: It’s great to be back, Chris. Thank you.

WALLACE: Senator, in an interesting bit of karma, we are talking on the first anniversary of my interview with your husband, and I would like to show you a clip from that interview. Here it is.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: You did Fox’s bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me.


WALLACE: Senator, talk about conservative hit jobs, right-wing conspiracies — why do you and the president have such a hyper- partisan view of politics?


H. CLINTON: Well, Chris, if you had walked even a day in our shoes over the last 15 years, I’m sure you’d understand.

But you know, the real goal for our country right now is to get beyond partisanship, and I’m sure trying to do my part, because we’ve got a lot of serious problems that we’re trying to deal with.

This week I rolled out my American health choices plan. I’m going to work very hard to travel around the country, talk about why we need to tackle quality, affordable health care for every American.

We’ve got to deal with the economy and some of the problems that people are facing in the mortgage market and the fact that a lot of people are not getting ahead.

In the last six years, the average family income has dropped $1,000. That’s not good news for our economy or for real hard-working people.

So what I’m focused on is coming forth with ideas that I believe are in the best interests of our country. And clearly, around the world, we’ve got to restore America’s leadership. That starts with ending the war in Iraq and bringing our troops home, but there’s a lot more to do.

And I think it would be great if we had a debate on the substance, that we really talked about what each of us will bring to the White House, because I’m excited by what I hear as I travel around America.

I think people are ready to start acting like Americans again. They want to roll up their sleeves. They want to tackle these tough problems, and I believe we can.

And I’m confident and optimistic that we can make progress together again starting January 20th, 2009.

WALLACE: Senator, I want to talk about health care in a moment, but this is a question that one of your Democratic competitors, Barack Obama, mentions in criticism of you. You talk a lot about taking on the right wing in your campaign. Let’s watch.


H. CLINTON: For 15 years, I have stood up against the right-wing machine, and I’ve come out stronger, so if you want a winner who knows how to take them on, I’m your girl.


WALLACE: Question: Why do we want another president who thinks so much in terms of right versus left and red state versus blue state?

H. CLINTON: Well, if you look at what I’ve done in New York, Chris, I won reelection with nearly 67 percent of the vote, carrying a lot of the same counties that George Bush had carried just two years before.

I’ve been able to get a lot of Republican and independent support in this campaign. I know how to seek and find common ground, but I also know how to stand my ground.

You know, I’m not intimidated by all of the efforts to try to undermine what I think is right for the country or to come after me or Democrats personally, because I think we need to try to get back to the center.

And I don’t think that it’s in the best interests of our country that people try to pull the debate off of what I believe is important, and that is coming to some resolution about these problems that are not getting better.

We now have more uninsured Americans than we did before.

WALLACE: Senator, can I ask…

H. CLINTON: We have a lot of hard-working Americans…

WALLACE: Senator, can I ask you about health care?

H. CLINTON: … who’ve given up looking for work.

WALLACE: Let me ask you about health care, because you did…

H. CLINTON: Yes, I’d love for you to ask me about health care.

WALLACE: You did come up with a new plan this week which you say would insure the…

H. CLINTON: I did.

WALLACE: … 47 million Americans who are uninsured. And let’s talk about how you would pay for it.

You say that you’d get $52 billion from repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and $77 billion from making the system more efficient.

Senator, saying you’re going to save billions from waste and fraud is an old technique. I covered Ronald Reagan back in 1980 who talked about doing it that way and we ended up with huge deficits.

If you’re unable to get those savings from waste and fraud and abuse, would you raise taxes further or would you cut your program?

H. CLINTON: Well, Chris, let me first describe the program. The American health choices plan does not create any new bureaucracy. It is not government-run health care. If you are satisfied with your health care, you keep it, no questions asked.

But if you are one of those 47 million uninsured, or if you are one of the many millions more who actually have insurance except when you really need it and the insurance company won’t pay for what your doctor has prescribed, you will now have the same choices that are available to members of Congress, because we will open up the plan that members of Congress have and give you a health choices menu to choose from.

We will also provide a health care tax credit for those who cannot, on their own, afford it or who don’t have employer help.

Similarly, I will provide a new small business health care tax credit because a lot of small businesses tell me that they’d love to be able to help provide health care for their employees, but they just can’t afford it, and we’re going to make it affordable.

But in our system, we have a lot of inefficiencies. Let’s take electronic medical records, because if we were to have a system where everyone had a private, confidential health care record — this is something that I’ve worked on with Newt Gingrich — we would see that we would save a lot of money. It’s been estimated by not me but others who have studied this — about $77 billion a year.

If we better managed chronic care, we would save money, because right now we don’t, and we pay a big price for it. So there are a lot of cost savings.

And let me just correct you for a minute. My plan has about $52 billion in tax cuts because of what we’re doing by moving the tax rates back to the pre-Bush era. And yes, taxes will go up on people making $250,000, but most Americans will see a net tax decrease.

And we have about $55 billion in savings from electronic medical records, chronic care management, taking away some of the overpayment to HMOs that have unfortunately driven up the cost of Medicare prescription drug benefit.

And if people want to see how I will both get health care and how I will move toward fiscal responsibility, please go to my website, HillaryClinton.com, because we talk about how we will pay for all of the initiatives that I am proposing in this campaign.

I take fiscal responsibility very seriously. I regret deeply that President Bush threw out fiscal responsibility over the last 6.5 years. And under my administration, we will move back toward fiscal responsibility.

WALLACE: Senator, you talk, as you just did, a lot about choice in your plan, but the fact is you still have sweeping government mandates, and let’s take a look at those.

You mandate that all Americans would have to buy insurance or face penalties, even young people who may not want it.

You mandate that large businesses would have to insure employees or pay a tax. According to a top Harvard economist, 200,000 people would end up losing their jobs because of that.

And you mandate that insurance companies would have to offer coverage to all applicants no matter how sick they are.

So, Senator, isn’t there still a good deal of government coercion in your plan?

H. CLINTON: Well, there is certainly a shared responsibility that goes with having a health care system that both can afford to provide quality affordable health care for everyone and puts responsibility on everyone in our country.

Individuals will have to have insurance, but we’re going to make it affordable.

The health care industry, the drug industry, are going to have to change the way they conduct business. Right now the way that they do has driven up costs and unfortunately lowered choices for many millions of Americans.

Business will take responsibility, but within a system that will actually get their costs down. And we have, you know, reams of evidence and lots of experts lined up to say just that.

In fact, most of the independent experts who have looked at my plan over the last week have been very favorably disposed toward it.

But the most important thing is we cannot continue down this path. It is a moral imperative that we provide health insurance for the 47 million uninsured Americans, including the nine million — the president’s response is, when we tried to extend insurance to children, to say he will veto that. I don’t think that’s a majority opinion in our country.

And we also know that we have to deal with this economically because we can’t continue to increase the amount of money we spend on health care.

We, frankly, don’t get the best results for all the money that we’ve spent and we lose jobs right now to competition because we don’t have a system that everyone shares responsibility in achieving quality, affordable health care for every American.

WALLACE: Senator, you have refused to criticize the MoveOn.org ad about General Petraeus. And in fact, this week you voted against a Senate resolution denouncing it.

President Bush said that you and other Democrats are more afraid — his word — afraid of irritating the left wing and MoveOn than you are about insulting the American military. Does he have a point?

H. CLINTON: No, he doesn’t. But I think it’s clear I don’t condone attacks on anyone who has served our country with distinction and with honor, and I have been very vocal in my support of and admiration for General Petraeus.

I did vote for a resolution that made it clear I do not condone and do condemn attacks on any American, impugning their patriotism, and that includes people like Senator Max Cleland and Senator John Kerry.

I think we need to call a halt to any kind of attacks, from wherever they come, that would go after anyone based on their service to America.

But you know, this is not a debate about an ad. This is a debate about how we end the war in Iraq. That’s the debate that I want to be participating in, and I think a lot of people on the other side don’t want us to have that debate.

Many of us are trying to move our Congress and the White House toward what we believe must be done, and that is extricating our troops from this sectarian civil war. I’m going to continue to speak out about that. If the president doesn’t do it before his term ends, when I am president, I will.

But let’s keep the debate focused on where it needs to be. We have young men and women who are serving honorably and heroically and who are dying in this sectarian civil war.

We have an Iraqi government that won’t move the way it should to deal with the political problems. And we have a Bush administration that has not engaged in the diplomatic efforts with any urgency.

So I think we should stay focused on what the real debate in America is about, and that is how do we extricate ourselves from Iraq and begin to bring our troops home.

WALLACE: But, Senator, I want to follow up on this question of the real debate, and I want to put up an article by liberal columnist Richard Cohen this week.

He wrote when the entertainment mogul David Geffen, once a Clinton supporter, called both Bill and Hillary liars, Hillary not only decried the remark as a particularly vivid example of the politics of personal destruction, but she demanded that Barack Obama do the same and return a $2,300 donation Geffen had given him.

Yet when Clinton herself was asked to repudiate the abuse of Petraeus, she either saw no reason to do so or, much more likely, was afraid to alienate an important constituency, the 3.3 million members of MoveOn.org.

So let me ask you specifically. Do you repudiate the MoveOn.org ad?

H. CLINTON: I have said, and I have voted for, condemning anyone who goes after the patriotism and service of any American.

But let’s put this in a broader context. You know, there are many people who have assaulted over the years the patriotism and service of other Americans. I think it’s time to end all of that.

And what I voted for in the Senate did that. It was balanced and it said, very clearly, we condemn attacks on anyone who has served honorably in our country’s uniform. And I am absolutely of the mind that this should not be part of our debate.

But I am not going to be taken off my course, which is to try to end the war in Iraq. You know, others want a debate about an ad because they don’t have a strategy or a policy to begin to extricate us from Iraq.

I think we should focus on what is happening in Iraq to our young men and women. Nearly 3,800 have been killed. More than 30,000 have been injured.

So I think it’s very clear that when you cannot come up with a strategy that will get us out of Iraq, you obviously are going to focus on and try to bring attention to, you know, political strategy.

I think it’s time that we all said, “Look. This is not working. It has not worked.” And unfortunately, the president refuses to change course, so when I’m president, I will.

WALLACE: Senator, we’ve got a couple of minutes left. Let’s talk about Iraq. There are reports that the president is going to submit a new spending bill this week calling for another $200 billion in spending for Iraq.

Last May you voted to cut off spending. Will you do so again with this spending bill?

H. CLINTON: I will not vote for any funding that does not move us toward beginning to withdraw our troops, that does not have pressure on the Iraqi government to make the tough political decisions that they have, that does not recognize that there is a diplomatic endeavor that has to be undertaken.

This has gone on now, unfortunately, for years, with the president holding on to his failed policy and with Republicans in the Senate and on the campaign trail deciding to support that failed policy, and it’s really the only way that I can register my very strong disapproval of this policy, and I will continue to do so.

WALLACE: But, senator, some of this money, as you well know, goes to protect our troops from mines and IEDs. No matter how you feel about the war, how can you vote to cut them off when they’re still on the front lines?

H. CLINTON: I think the best way to protect our troops is to start bringing them home. And I have been a strong supporter of the American military.

I have fought hard for body armor when the Bush administration was not able or willing to produce it in the quantities that were necessary.

I’ve stood with my colleagues to fight hard for armored vehicles because we knew that they needed additional protection in Iraq and they weren’t getting it.

I have stood against the no-bid contracts and the cronyism that has wasted billions and billions of dollars, taxpayer dollars that should be going to protecting our troops. But this administration, unfortunately, keeps turning a blind eye to the abuses in the contracting process.

And I will continue to do everything that I can to protect our troops, starting with trying to get to a policy that will recognize their heroism and their valor, but also the fact that there is no military solution.

Everyone knows that. Everyone agrees with that. And yet that is the only policy that this administration is willing to support.

And it’s time that we said to the Iraqi government they do not have an open-ended commitment of our young men and women and tens of billions of dollars that Americans, you know, no longer believe is being put to good use in Iraq, and that we will do everything we can to try to bring our young men and women home.

That is my goal, and I think that is, you know, my ultimate and most important responsibility. I have been guided by an overriding principle to do what I think is best for my country and best for the troops that serve it, and I will continue to do so.

WALLACE: Senator, we’ve got about 30 seconds left. One final question. You spoke out very clearly when Iranian president Ahmadinejad talked about going to ground zero.

Now he’s going to speak at Columbia tomorrow. Do you think that Columbia should rescind this invitation?

H. CLINTON: Well, I’m going to leave that up to Columbia, but I was outraged that he wanted to go to ground zero and did speak out very forcefully, and thankfully he will not go to ground zero.

Obviously, we have a very difficult problem ahead in dealing with Iran, something that I think the Bush administration put on the back burner for too long, outsourced to the French, the British and the Germans, instead of, you know, going forward and seeing if there were any ways that we could rein in this regime and certainly prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons.

And that’s going to be my focus as a senator and as president.

WALLACE: Senator Clinton, we’re going to have to leave it there. We want to thank you so much for joining us today. Don’t be a stranger, and please send my best to the president.


H. CLINTON: I’m sure he’ll be happy to hear that, Chris. Thank you.


XXX Chris. Thank you.

WALLACE: Up next, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on the Clinton health care plan and the Republican presidential field, right after this break.


WALLACE: Joining us now, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

And, Mr. Speaker, welcome back.

GINGRICH: Good to be here.

WALLACE: Let’s talk first of all about Hillary Clinton, because I was struck by her appearance and several things she said. She said we need to get back to the center. We need to get beyond partisanship.

Are we seeing a new Hillary Clinton?

GINGRICH: I think at one level we are. I think Senator Clinton really does recognize — and I thought, for example, on electronic health records she’s in the center. I mean, that part of her proposal is a very good, very sound step forward, something she and I worked on.

So in some ways, for a very liberal candidate who has a very liberal background, she’s doing what she can to try to move towards the center, plus she knows if she’s going to be the nominee, she’s not going to win on the left.

You cannot get elected — as Celinda Lake points out this morning in the Washington Post, you can’t get elected on the left in this country. So she’s got to find a way to try to get to the center.

WALLACE: Let’s talk about the Clinton health care plan, because she says that she’s learned from all the problems of 1994 and, unlike Hillary care then, this plan does not create a massive government bureaucracy.

It allows people to keep their current plan or to choose from a menu of options — the word choice is used over and over again. And she points out it would insure all Americans. And she says, and it’s true, none of the plans by Republicans that have been offered so far would do that.

GINGRICH: You know, let me offer a radical proposal. Instead of saying yes/no, why don’t we take this as the start of a dialogue? Some things that she proposes are interesting and useful. Some things need to be challenged very directly.

There are two parts, I think. One is she’s very disingenuous about the government part. This is a big government, high-tax, bureaucratic plan. It’s much better than Hillary care of 1993, but it is nonetheless, in the end, a big government plan.

The thing I’m concerned about is that no one wants to make government accountable. We know that in New York state, there’s $4.4 billion a year of fraud annually in Medicaid or more. Nothing’s done.

We just had a report last week that in three counties in south Florida, there may be as much as $2 billion a year of fraud in HIV/AIDS programs. Nothing’s done.

And the first question I’d ask Senator Clinton is why would you think government is an accountable, reliable provider of these kind of services. And I think that’s the heart of her plan.

But to start with the idea, some of the goals are right. The delivery system is probably wrong. Now let’s have a conversation rather than a yes/no debate.

WALLACE: Speaking of solutions, you’re going to be hosting a conference this week called American Solutions with workshops across the country.

Give us a sense briefly of how big it will be and how it will work.

GINGRICH: It will start Thursday night at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta, and we will have nationwide over 2,000 sites. It will be available on Dish TV and DIRECTV and will available on the Internet at AmericanSolutions.com. It will be bipartisan.

Elaine Kamarck, who was the head of Al Gore’s reinventing government, is doing a workshop on how to get rid of bureaucracy.

Governor Roy Roemer, former Democratic governor of Colorado, who spent 6.5 years as head of the Los Angeles school system, is doing an Ed ’08 discussion workshop on education.

Brian Bilbray, the congressman from San Diego, will be doing a workshop from the border on immigration.

So it will be a very interesting development of ideas, and it starts with a very simple premise. We need dramatic change in our system, and we are not going to get dramatic change inside the current political structure without an enormous effort by the American people.

And that’s not just the presidency, which is what this city focuses on, but there are 513,000 elected officials in the U.S., and Americans Solutions is aimed at moving the entire system over the next five years to 10 years.

WALLACE: As you talk about bureaucracy and immigration and health care and education, how does that get translated into a coherent set of principles, or doesn’t this end up being Newt Gingrich picking and choosing whatever he thinks is right?

GINGRICH: Well, let me say first off, if you look at what Dennis Smith has done at New York University in studying how Giuliani dramatically improved crime using evidence-based government and metrics, you see a beginning.

If you look at what Elaine Kamarck has worked on in the last 10 years about replacing bureaucracy, or what Steve Goldsmith did in Indianapolis, we see the beginnings.

I did a very brief 3.5-minute video on YouTube called FedEx vs. Federal Bureaucracy. And if you look at that and you think there’s a world that works — UPS and FedEx are examples. There’s a world that fails, the federal government, which can’t find 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants, can’t control the border.

Let me give you a radical platform. Levees shouldn’t fail. Bridges shouldn’t fall. Schools should educate. And these are just — I mean, think about what you see around you. Borders should be controlled.

And then you say, “You know, if those things were true, look how big the change in government would have to be.”

WALLACE: You say — and you talked about change — that the Republican Party needs to make a clean break from George W. Bush.

What does that mean? And how can Republicans say that they’re the agent of change when it’s been a Republican president and a Republican Congress in power for most of the last six years?

GINGRICH: Well, I think that’s part of the challenge, is to make the case authentically, but it’s not about President Bush as an individual person.

The current system doesn’t work. A couple of quick examples: We ought to have English as the official language of government. We ought to have intensive education in English for everybody who comes here.

We ought to guarantee that you have the right to say one nation under God as part of the pledge of allegiance. There are a whole series of steps people want.

The Detroit schools should actually teach kids, as opposed to just pay bureaucrats. I mean, there are a number of things we should be doing. That requires fundamental change.

And I tell every Republican activist they should read Nicolas Sarkozy’s testimony, because…

WALLACE: The president of France.

GINGRICH: … as the president of France, was in Chirac’s cabinet when he issued a speech saying we need a clean break.

Now, he’s serving as the interior minister of the government he’s saying we need a clean break from. The left nominated a very attractive woman candidate, Segolene Royal. She should have won.

But in fact, by the election, people said, “You know, if I want real change, I need Sarkozy, because she represents reactionary bureaucracy and she won’t change things.”

WALLACE: You’ve been flirting with the idea of running for president for months. And this week you said you want to see if you can get pledges of $30 million before deciding. How is that going to work?

GINGRICH: Well, I’ve said all along for the last year, I’m going to focus — I personally am focusing totally on doing American Solutions, having the workshops on Thursday and Saturday, reaching out across the whole country on a totally bipartisan basis.

Next Monday, Randy Evans, who’s been my friend and adviser for many, many years, will hold a press briefing. Randy will spend the next three weeks checking with people around the country.

If he reports back that, in fact, we think the resources are there for a real race — remember, Governor Romney has been very successful legitimately as a businessman. He can write a $100 million check.

I mean, there’s no point in getting into a fight with a guy who can drown you unless you at least have enough resources for a boat.

And so if we have enough resources, then close to that we’ll face a very big decision in late October. If there aren’t enough resources, I’m not for doing unrealistic things.

WALLACE: But why even go through it unless, if you get the money, you’d run?

GINGRICH: I think the odds are very high, if we ended up with that level of pledges, we’d — I don’t see as a citizen how you could turn that down.

WALLACE: So you’d run.

GINGRICH: I think you’d be compelled to.


GINGRICH: I think any citizen — how could you turn to all of your fellow citizens — if they walk in and say, “You know, we think you’re the person who ought to debate Senator Clinton, and we think you’re the person who can actually explain where we ought to go,” how could you turn to them and say, “Well, I’m too busy?” Couldn’t do it.

WALLACE: So basically, it’s going out, reaching out, seeing if you get the commitments. And if you get the commitments…

GINGRICH: But I want the commitments first. I don’t want to go out on personal ambition. If there is, in fact, enough people in the country who think we need this kind of approach and this kind of change-oriented policies, then I think I’d feel a responsibility to run.

WALLACE: We’re talking less than two months, if this is now into November we’re talking about — two months before Iowa, three months before Super Tuesday.


WALLACE: Do you really think you can mount a serious campaign in that short a time?

GINGRICH: I think in the age of television, we are reaching more people today than Abraham Lincoln reached personally his entire career.

I mean, you know, your show has literally that much more penetration than Abraham Lincoln’s entire career. So I think in the age of television, I’ve been in Iowa many times. I just came back from Mackinaw in Michigan yesterday.

You know, we have many friends across the country. If we have enough friends, I think we could mount a campaign in a matter of weeks.

WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, we want to thank you. Thanks for coming in, and good luck with your conference this week, sir.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

WALLACE: Up next, our Sunday regulars on the week in politics, from Hillary Clinton on Fox News to Rudy and Judy on the phone. You won’t want to miss this.

WALLACE: And it’s time now for the Sunday gang: Brit Hume, Washington managing editor of Fox News, and Fox News contributors Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and Juan Williams, also from National Public Radio.

Well, let’s start with Hillary Clinton, and I’m sure that it was the subject of great conversation inside the Clinton campaign whether or not to come on Fox News.

She hasn’t been on our show for 3.5 years and, of course, none of the leading Democrats have been willing to debate on Fox News.

Why do you think she did it? And what did you think of her message, which clearly was aimed at let’s get beyond partisanship, common ground, return to the center?

HUME: Well, I have no idea why she did it. I would only guess that she figures that sooner or later she’s going to have to be in touch with as many voters as possible, and here was an audience that she might not get on another channel.

I have to tell you, Chris, I thought she was in terrific form. If she could handle the interview that you did with her as well as she did, I don’t know why she wouldn’t be on here all the time, because you threw her tough questions and she handled them all, it seemed to me, smoothly, particularly that first question, which had to be a little bracing and unexpected, about why are they so hyper-partisan based on the excerpt from your interview with Bill Clinton which had become so contentious, and she had answered that by bursting out laughing, which is always disarming, always engaging and always attractive.

WALLACE: And the response I often get to my questions, which is just gales of laughter.

HUME: Particularly from us here on the panel, right? I thought she handled herself very ably. You know, I’m not saying that everything she said is something that everyone would agree with, but she was in very good form, indeed.

WALLACE: Mara, there has been some reporting that the senator wants to use her new health care plan to show that she is moving to the center, that she has learned, she’s not the old liberal Hillary and that she can build a consensus. Is that what’s going on here?

LIASSON: Well, yeah. Look, I think the classic task for any candidate, obviously, is to move to the left, at least if you’re a Democrat, in the primary just enough, and she certainly has been doing that on the war and other issues — trade — but not to box yourself in so that you don’t have the running room you need to get back to the center in the general.

Now, I think that what she did this week when she rolled out health care was sending a message about a couple of things — not only that, but that she is a different person than she was in 1993.

I mean, one of the big questions about Mrs. Clinton, Senator Clinton, is that in 1993, she made some decisions — her most direct executive experience came in the health care project. She made some decisions about that that turned out to be wrong.

Now she’s saying, “Look. I’ve learned from that experience. I’m taking a different approach to health care.” It’s a much more moderate plan. It doesn’t have an employer mandate. It does have an individual mandate, which actually was part of the Republican plan back then, which was interesting — some Republican plans.

And, yeah, I think that the health care plan says, “I’m not going to force as much change down your throats, Mr. and Mrs. American Consumer of Health Care, as I was going to in 1993,” and I think it says something about her as a person and also about where she is politically.

WALLACE: Bill, do you buy that?

KRISTOL: No. I mean, Senator Clinton has never repudiated intellectually her health care plan of 1993. She just thinks it’s unfortunate that the political system wasn’t ready for it.

She’s come up with a cleverer way to disguise what ultimately is a step toward government-run health insurance in this country, government-run health care.

WALLACE: Well, wait. Why do you say that, because she keeps talking about menus of options, you can keep your same plan with your same doctor, you can go to a bunch of other plans? Why is this now still government health care?

KRISTOL: Because once you set up the government — the individual mandate and a government-provided insurance plan, and once you don’t override the expensive mandates that are put on each of the health care plans, you’re going to end up with some of these plans being unaffordable and the government having to guarantee everyone the ability to purchase it.

And you’re going to end up with basically — I believe, with a more or less government-run health care plan.

I agree, though, that on the surface it looks more moderate, and it is more moderate, than the previous plan. It’s a step on a path toward the previous plan rather than an all-at-once attempt to get there.

But the vote this week on MoveOn.org which you asked her about is really startling, I think. She was one of half of the Democrats in the Senate who refused to condemn the attack on General Petraeus.

WALLACE: Explain briefly, because there were two votes.

KRISTOL: There were two votes. There was a Democratic alternative which condemned equally attacks on Senator Cleland and Senator Kerry during their campaigns and General Petraeus. All the Democrats voted for that.

Then half the Democrats — that failed to get 60 votes. And then half…

WALLACE: But that one also didn’t mention MoveOn.org.

KRISTOL: Right. And I don’t think the final one actually mentions it by name, but it says attacks on General Petraeus.

What strikes me about — so she voted for General Petraeus before she voted against him, very much like Senator Kerry voted for $87 billion before he voted against it in 2003.

But what’s striking about the Democratic alternative is they equate attacks on politicians in the heat of a presidential campaign with an attack on a serving United States general and commander of troops for betraying this country.

Now, that, to me, is revealing. They think it gives them cover to say, “We’re against all nasty attacks. We’re against nasty attacks on John Kerry and we’re against nasty attacks on General David Petraeus,” as if those are the same thing.

It’s deeply revealing, I think, about the degree to which the Democrats and Senator Clinton think everything is partisan politics.

WILLIAMS: Well, on the health care front, let me just say that I think the Republicans are now moving more toward Hillary Clinton when it comes to health care, more toward this idea of some kind of universal coverage, an idea that was absolutely viewed as an anathema back in the early ’90s.

I think now, given what Mitt Romney, for example, did as governor of Massachusetts, I think that idea is far more palatable to people on both sides of the political aisle.

And there’s a seriousness in the body politic at the moment about this issue that I think is critical. Americans say, you know, it’s just too much to have so many of their fellow citizens uninsured and in need of critical care, especially children.

So I think lots has changed since then, and I don’t think there’s going to be the reaction you’re talking about.

And with regard to the MoveOn.org ad, what a distraction. As Hillary Clinton said to Chris, this is a situation where I think Republicans are playing politics in terms of saying, “You know what? This is a great ad. We can beat up on it because everybody loves the military. Everybody wants to support the military, so we’ll just go after this and distract from discussions of the real issues,” which is ending the war in Iraq.

WALLACE: I don’t want to let this week pass without discussing Rudy Giuliani’s appearance before the National Rifle Association — big speech for the mayor because of his long record in favor of gun control.

And right in the middle of the speech, he gets a phone call on his cell phone. Let’s watch.


GIULIANI: Hello, dear. I’m talking to the members of the NRA right now. Would you like to say hello?


WALLACE: What makes this even stranger — and let’s put this tape up — is that last June in a speech in Florida, the exact same thing happened. In the middle of a speech, he got a phone call from Judy Giuliani.

Mara, what’s going on here?

LIASSON: I mean, “yeesh” is all I can say about it. I mean, it’s so weird. Because he did it before, and because this man gives thousands of speeches before audiences, you’d think he would have the cell phone thing down.

It makes absolutely no sense that he would have thought that would have been an endearing thing to do before the NRA, a group with which he has some very particular problems.

You’d think if it was actually for real, and he didn’t know it was going to happen, you’d think the way to handle it would have been to ostentatiously go to put your phone on vibrate and display your holster in the process.

It just makes no sense to me at all. I don’t know what he was thinking, why he thought that would be a nice thing to do. Apparently, he got a much warmer response to it the first time than when it happened before the NRA.

WALLACE: That’s what I always say to my kids. Never repeat a joke. It’s never as funny the second time.

LIASSON: Yeah. Yeah.

WALLACE: But, Brit, let me just ask you, on the substance of this, over the years, Giuliani has likened the NRA to extremists. He supported the Clinton assault weapons ban. He supported a lawsuit against gun manufacturers.

How did he do in the NRA, and how is he doing generally in trying to soften the edges on the Second Amendment?

HUME: Well, the record is what it is, and there’s no escaping it. So given that, I think he probably did about as well as he could, and he may have gained a little ground with these people.

After all, you know, he does at least have sort of a tough law enforcement attitude toward this, and he doesn’t seem on a personal level to be the kind of a guy who has a sort of a soft aversion to guns.

Beyond that, though, he’s got a very burdensome record when it comes to these people and that issue.

WALLACE: OK. We need to step aside for a moment.

But up next, should Iran’s president have been invited to speak at Columbia University? Our Sunday regulars weigh in when we come back.


WALLACE: On this day in 1952, Richard Nixon spoke to the nation about a campaign contribution scandal. Known as the “Checkers speech” for a dog given to his daughters, it’s one of the first times television was used for politics.

Stay tuned for more panel and our Power Player of the Week.



DEAN JOHN COATSWORTH: … Hitler were in the United States and wanted a platform from which to speak, he would have plenty of platforms to speak in the United States.

If he were willing to engage in a debate and a discussion to be challenged by Columbia students and faculty, we would certainly invite him.


WALLACE: That was Columbia’s dean of international and public policy saying before the U.S. went to war with Germany, it would have been just fine to invite Adolf Hitler to speak there, by way of defending the decision to invite Iran’s president to speak to Columbia tomorrow.

And we’re back now with Brit, Mara, Bill and Juan.

So, Bill, did Dean Chatsworth convince you, Hitler pre-invasion of Poland OK, and so is Ahmadinejad?

KRISTOL: You can’t make up, you know, the idiocy of American higher education. And this man was president of the American Historical Association, the dean — Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia, very distinguished former law school dean.

It’s unbelievable. This is not just a student group inviting Ahmadinejad and Columbia not preventing it. He’s officially been invited by the university for a distinguished lecture series.

They’re giving him the credibility, the legitimacy, of this podium. And then their answer is, “Well, but we’re going to ask — President Bollinger is going to ask tough questions of Ahmadinejad.” I’m sure that terrifies him.

That gives him even more legitimacy, showing up on the platform with him. I hope every Columbia student boycotts this, Admadinejad’s speech.

HUME: Good luck.

KRISTOL: No, I think they could, though. Here’s why. The Iranian government is directly responsible for killing and maiming American soldiers in Iraq. There’s no question about that anymore.

These soldiers, many of them, are the same age as those Columbia students. They’re relatives sometimes, friends and high school classmates of those Columbia students.

As a gesture of elementary decency and solidarity with those American soldiers, they should refuse to attend the speech of Ahmadinejad. They can’t stop Lee Bollinger from being an idiot, but the students could show a superiority to their elders here, I think.

WILLIAMS: You make sense.

KRISTOL: Thank you, Juan.

WILLIAMS: I would hope that some people would protest. I disagree with you about the idea that you would not allow the man to speak.

And I think Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia, has made the point that this is not simply a lecture, but this is an exchange with students, and he will be questioned and I…

WALLACE: Have you ever seen an interview with President Ahmadinejad?

WILLIAMS: He talks endlessly.

WALLACE: It’s a lecture.

WILLIAMS: Yeah. Well, but let’s see what happens. I wouldn’t prejudge it. And I think that, in fact, that’s what may occur, Chris. I wouldn’t hold that — but the idea is you put people in a position where they have to defend their position.

How he’s going to defend the idea of denying the Holocaust, or saying that Israel should be destroyed, or saying that his country is, in fact, deserving of having nuclear weapons — let him try to defend that, Bill. Let’s have it…

WALLACE: So you’re saying invite him.

WILLIAMS: Let’s have light. Why not have a free, full-hearted, full-throated discussion in which he is, you know, revealed to be the charlatan and the reprehensible character that he is?

HUME: Across America every day somebody is running afoul of some speech code in which someone on a university has said something that made somebody else feel uncomfortable or feel offended.

That is the atmosphere of political correctness on the American university campus. How striking an exception is this?

Now, look. A university ought be a place where people with the most controversial, exotic and even outrageous ideas can come and announce and declaim them and discuss them.

In the case of this man, though, this isn’t a man whose ideology or thought process is what everybody’s interested in.

This is a man whose actions — and he is in it — because he is the leader of a country and has that kind of power, his words are also a form of action.

And between the killing, as Bill mentioned, of American soldiers at Iranian hands, and the deadly threats that he’s made against Israel and perhaps other countries, he is well beyond the realm of somebody who’s simply an idea man with outrageous ideas.

WILLIAMS: Well, isn’t free speech a virtue?

HUME: Free speech is a virtue. However, no one is saying that he can’t speak. They’re simply…

WILLIAMS: Well, I thought that’s what you were saying.

HUME: Free speech does not guarantee you any platform of your choosing.


WALLACE: May I throw one more thing into this and also bring Mara in? Some critics note that President Bollinger, Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia who gave this invitation, is the same fellow who voted to keep ROTC off the Columbia campus because of their don’t ask, don’t tell policy on gays.

So military training for the — ROTC military training off-limits at Columbia, Ahmadinejad OK.

LIASSON: Yeah, that seems a little inconsistent. But look. I think now that he is coming, I agree with…

HUME: Actually, it seems disturbingly consistent.

LIASSON: Well, if you’re going to let Ahmadinejad come, you should probably have ROTC there, too.

But I think now the spotlight is on Lee Bollinger, and the questions he’s going to ask, and how the student body of Columbia reacts, and whether or not this does give this guy a bigger platform and make him seem legitimate or somehow unmasks him as, you know, somebody with…

HUME: Unmasking? He needs no unmasking.

WILLIAMS: What’s inconsistent? What’s inconsistent about ROTC? We are an American people. We can dispute and dissent from the policies of our government and our military, and say it and speak up and decide, “No, you’re not welcome. We disagree with you.” And in terms of…

HUME: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Woah, woah.

WILLIAMS: Go ahead.

HUME: No, you’re not welcome because we disagree with you.

WILLIAMS: Nobody said they weren’t welcome to give a speech. Nobody said they weren’t welcome to make their case.

In terms of saying that they’re welcome on the campus as an institution that’s backed by the campus, that’s a different business. No one is endorsing President Ahmadinejad. No.

KRISTOL: He is giving a — he is the first speaker in the distinguished lecture series run by the Columbia University. He’s not being sponsored by some little group of students for terror, or students against…

WILLIAMS: Students for terror.

KRISTOL: … the Holocaust, or students for killing American soldiers.

He is a guest of the university. It is a total disgrace. It’s an even more — it’s an equal disgrace or a greater disgrace that Columbia doesn’t have ROTC on campus.

It’s a separate issue, though it’s revealing, that they are so appalled at having — helping young Americans serve their country that they want to have Ahmadinejad here.

There’s no shortage of Columbia professors who make arguments that are anti-Israel or antiwar. There’s not even a shortage of some — you know, so the issue isn’t that Columbia students are being denied those kinds of views. It is an outrage to give — Brit is absolutely right.

He is the head of a regime that is directly responsible for killing young Americans. It is an outrage for the Columbia president to host him, and I really hope Columbia students boycott…

WILLIAMS: The United States government is granting him a visa to come and speak at the United Nations. And it’s important, I think, that we not say we don’t allow free speech in this country.

We let everybody speak and we reveal them for who they are.

HUME: Well, nobody said he can’t stand at the corner of 47th and Madison and declaim if he wants to, or get on a soap box in Central Park.

WALLACE: Got to go, folks.

HUME: This is a question whether he’s a distinguished lecturer.

WALLACE: Thank you. Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday.

Up next, Power Player of the Week Ken Burns on his riveting T.V. series on the second world war, right after this break.


WALLACE: Ken Burns is the master filmmaker who has done documentaries on everything from the Civil War to baseball.

Well, now he’s tackling World War II and telling the story from the bottom up. Here’s our Power Player of the Week.


BURNS: There are no experts. There’s no Monday-morning quarterbacking. If you weren’t in this war, on the front lines, or waiting anxiously for somebody to come home from that war, you’re not in our film.

And so I think what you get is a kind of accumulated sense of what it was really like to be in that war and therefore what it’s really like to be in war.

WALLACE: We have some clips, starting with a fellow named Glen Frazier of Alabama, who ran away from home, lied about his age and joined the Army at age 16. And let’s take a look at some of these clips. Here they are.


GLEN FRAZIER: When that Japanese Zero turned his wings right above the trees and started to fly away, I could see him with a smile on his face. And at that point I had no problem with killing people. In fact, I got to the point where I hunted them.



RAY PITTMAN: Going in to Iwo Jima, I was a squad leader by that time. And how we looked around and wondered, “Now, how many men am I going to lose?” Of course, we didn’t know it was going to be bad as it was.


WALLACE: People talk about this as the last good war, but I know one of the things you want to do is to strip away the mythology. And in fact, you call it the worst war.

BURNS: Yeah, it is.


BURNS: I mean, well, we — it’s come down to us in the generations, and everything’s sort of become draped in bloodless gallant myth.

And what I think we have to remember is this is the worst war. It’s responsible for the deaths of 60 million people.

We understand why people call it the good war, because the country was more or less united, our causes were unambiguous, we didn’t debate it every night whether we should be in or whether we shouldn’t as some subsequent wars have.

But what happened is as the decades have come, as we’ve removed ourselves from it, we’ve begun to see it as sort of a safe black and white war. It’s exactly what’s happening on the streets of Baghdad.

I mean, it was horrible. And these young men had experiences common to all wars. I was scared. I was bored. I was hot. I was cold. My officers didn’t know what they were doing. I didn’t have the right equipment. I saw bad things. I did bad things. I lost good friends.

WALLACE: You bring up Iraq. People are going to draw comparisons, obviously, to the current fight in Iraq. And what struck me are the differences, that there was a sense of national purpose, national sacrifice then.

BURNS: That’s right.

WALLACE: Phrases like “war effort” or “home front” had such different meanings, didn’t they?

BURNS: Indeed. You know, we have a paradox here that in shared sacrifice, we made ourselves richer, not just spiritually and communally richer, but materially and financially richer.

Now we have a separate military class that suffers its losses apart and alone from the rest of us. We are disconnected. We weren’t asked to do anything after 9/11.

Our film doesn’t have any political bias. We did most of our interviews before the invasion of Iraq. But history is the set of questions we in the present ask of the past. It cannot help but reverberate with all that’s going on now.

So you’ll see echoes of everything that’s going on, from not getting the right equipment, to thinking the war is over, to the sense of how different it was, too, in that we were all together for the most part.

Our oars were in the water pulling in the same direction in the second world war. And I think it’s a hugely valuable lesson for us to have today, no matter what your political persuasion is.

WALLACE: World War II veterans are now dying — and this is an astonishing figure — at a rate of 1,000 a day. Did this sense of the last hurrah drive this project?

BURNS: Absolutely. This is a film I couldn’t have made 10 years ago. They just weren’t talking for all the reasons, psychological and — they weren’t.

But as they get to the end of their own lives, their own intimations of mortality, their grandchildren, their children are asking them, “What did you do,” and we’re losing them at this rate.

And I didn’t want to do another film on war after our Civil War series. I just thought, you know, I’ve done this. But 1,000 a day — I’m in the memory business. Every time a person dies, it’s like a library burning down. The associations, the memories, the stories are gone forever.

WALLACE: You say that you’re in the memory business. Why so much focus on history? Why so much focus on reawakening the past?

BURNS: I think we think that history is sort of like castor oil — the set of dry dates and events that aren’t good for us, you know.

We need to know where we’ve been in order to know where we’re going.


WALLACE: The new Ken Burns series “The War” starts tonight on public television.

And that’s it for today. Have a great week, and we’ll see you next “Fox News Sunday.”



? 2007, NBC Universal, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



NBC News


Sunday, September 23, 2007


2008 Presidential Contender


Author, ?The Age of Turbulence:

Adventures in a New World?


This is a rush transcript provided

for the information and convenience of

the press. Accuracy is not guaranteed.

In case of doubt, please check with



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MR. TIM RUSSERT: Our issues this Sunday: the Iraq war, healthcare, campaign fund-raising and more. Our Meet the Candidates 2008 series continues. A former first lady, she has served as United States senator from New York for seven years and is now the front-runner for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. With us, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Then, a Sunday morning exclusive. The former chairman of the Federal Reserve’s new book, “The Age of Turbulence,” is making headlines in Washington and on Wall Street. Our guest, Alan Greenspan.

But first, joining us now is someone who’d like to be the first woman president of the United States, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York.

Welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY): Thank you, Tim. It’s great to be back with you.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, you told Newsweek magazine that the war in Iraq was the most important vote you cast in the U.S. Senate. I’d like to begin there. You spoke to a labor union this week, and this is what you said. Let’s watch.


SEN. CLINTON: I have voted against funding this war, and I will vote against funding this war as long as it takes.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: As you well know, you voted to authorize the war, voted to fund the war at least 10 times. Are you now saying that you will not vote one more penny for the war in Iraq?

SEN. CLINTON: Tim, I am saying that, and, you know, I’ve been guided by what I believe is the principle that should govern any decisions that a member of the Senate or anyone in public life makes, and that is I try to do what I think is best for my country and for the troops who serve it. And I have seen no evidence that this administration is willing to change course in any significant way. We’re now nearly at 3800 dead, we have more than 30,000 injured. The Iraqi government has failed to fulfill its part of the bargain to deal with the political issues that all of us know have to be addressed. I don’t think the Bush administration has pursued the diplomatic agenda the way that it needed to be pursued. And there is no military solution. And these extraordinary, brave young men and women should begin to come home out of refereeing this sectarian civil war.

I voted against funding last spring. I understand that we’re going to have a vote shortly about funding, and I will vote against it because I think that it’s the only way that we can demonstrate clearly that we have to change direction. The president has not been willing to do that, and he still has enough support among the Republicans in the Senate that he doesn’t have to. And so, on occasion after occasion, I have made it clear that if the president does not begin to extricate us from Iraq before he leaves office, which apparently, based on what he himself has said, he will not, when I am president, I will immediately ask my secretary of defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, my security advisers, to tell me exactly what the state of play is. I don’t believe we even know everything we need to know about what the plans for withdrawal are, how best to implement that. And I will end our involvement at the level that we’ve seen that has not proven to be successful.

MR. RUSSERT: The Daily News, your home paper in New York, said that your positions on Iraq remain a tangle of contradictory and shifting elements, and I want to go through those and see if we can sort it through for the viewers and the voters. A new brochure that you’ve passed out to the voters in New Hampshire says this: “Hillary will begin immediate phased withdrawal with a definite timetable to bring our troops home.”

When you were last on MEET THE PRESS, I asked you specifically about a definite timetable to bring troops home, and this is what you said. “I think that would be a mistake.” So don’t–“We don’t want to send a signal to the insurgents, to the terrorists that we’re going to be out of here at some, you know, date certain. I think that would be like a green light to go ahead and just bide your time.”

And then in December of ’06: “I reject a rigid timetable that the terrorists can exploit.”

And a year ago in September of ’06: “I’ve taken a lot of heat from my friends who’ve said, `Please, just, you know, throw in the towel and” “let’s get out by a date certain.’ I don’t think that’s responsible.”

You’ve changed your mind.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, the circumstances on the ground have certainly compelled me to continue to evaluate what is in the best interest of our country and our troops. And it became unfortunately clear to me that if we were to maintain the failed policy of this president, we will be entangled in Iraq with many more deaths, with very little to show for it, Tim. I have the highest admiration for General Petraeus and for his officers and the men and women on the ground in Iraq. But there is no military solution, and the failure of the Iraqi government and of the Bush administration to deal on either the political or the diplomatic front has put our young men and women at risk. There is no doubt that they can fulfill whatever military mission they’re given; they have. They were asked to get rid of Saddam Hussein and they did. They were asked to give the Iraqis the security for fair and free elections and they did. And they were asked to give the Iraqi government the space and time to start making these very difficult political decisions. Our military did everything it was asked to do. Unfortunately, I don’t think that the Iraqi government or the Bush administration has done what only they can do. And the only way to begin to keep faith with the men and women who are serving us is to begin to bring them home, and that is what I think we have to do now.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me bring you back to October 10th of 2002 when you stood on the floor of the United States Senate and voted to give George Bush the authority to go into Iraq. Let’s listen.

(Videotape, October 10, 2002)

SEN. CLINTON: Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members. Any vote that might lead to war should be hard, but I cast it with conviction. So it is with conviction that I support this resolution as being in the best interests of our nation.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: As we sit here this morning, Saddam rebuilding a nuclear weapons program, just not true; giving aid and sanctuary to al-Qaeda, debatable. Your vote in the best interests of the nation. Do you believe that your vote was in the best interest of the nation?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I cast a sincere vote based on my assessment at the time, and I take responsibility for that vote. I also said on the floor that day that this was not a vote for pre-emptive war. I thought it made sense to put inspectors back in. As you recall, Saddam had driven out the UN inspectors in 1998 and the situation in Iraq was opaque, hard to determine, and I thought that it made sense to put inspectors back in. Now, obviously, if I had known then what I know now about what the president would do with the authority that was given him, I would not have voted the way that I did.

But the real question before us today is what do we do going forward? We are continuing to lose Americans in Iraq. We are continuing to see the failure of the Iraqi government. We see no change in real policy that moves us toward a political resolution from our own administration because I think even they have to admit that the tactical success that we’ve seen in al Anbar province and dealing with al-Qaeda in Iraq is not going to resolve the ongoing sectarian civil war that is besetting Iraq. So I think, Tim, that, obviously, from my perspective what I’m focused on is what to do now, and I take that as seriously as I can, which is why I’ve said I will not vote for additional funding unless it is part of an overall policy to begin to deal with these other problems that we face in Iraq.

MR. RUSSERT: But, Senator, besides the vote to authorize, there are three other important votes during that time period. Here’s how Congressional Quarterly wrote about it: “A Byrd amendment to assert Congress’ right to declare war was rejected,” you voted against that. The amendment by Senator Durbin “that would have require Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program to be an `imminent’ rather than a `continuing’ threat,” you said no to that. And an amendment by Carl Levin “that would allow Congress to vote on authorizing force only after President Bush had exhausted all options with the United Nations,” more diplomacy, you voted no on that. You seem very determined at that time to march to war.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I also voted, Tim, to limit the president’s authority to a year. That was another one of Senator Byrd’s amendments which I strongly supported. It was not successful. I have seen, obviously now, what has occurred by this president’s use of the authority that he was given, and I regret the way that he used authority. But I think it’s important to recognize that the United Nations is a very important tool in international diplomacy, in peacekeeping to bring the world together. But I do not want to give the United Nations a veto over actions taken by any president.

I believe you have to work with the United Nations. And I saw my husband, when he believed it imperative to take action in Bosnia and Kosovo, unable to get congressional authority to act, unable to pull together the United Nations, but working with NATO to take action against ethnic cleansing. Every situation is different. At the time, I thought it did make sense to go back to the United Nations to put inspectors on the ground. But I don’t believe it’s in the best interests of our country to give the United Nations what amounts to a veto over presidential action. I think that the Congress and the president should determine what presidential action should be.

MR. RUSSERT: Is it fair to say that the most important vote you cast in the Senate, in your own words, on authorizing the war in Iraq, was wrong?

SEN. CLINTON: It’s fair to say that the president misused the authority that he was given, and if I had the opportunity to act now based on what I know now, I never would’ve voted that way. But I think it’s important to take responsibility and then to try to deal with the situation that we face today. You know, we can talk about 2002 or we can look forward to what is a continuing involvement in a sectarian civil war with no end in sight, and I believe it’s imperative that we try to create a political consensus to move the president and the Republicans in Congress to extricating us from this civil war. And I’ve said many times that if the president does not do it before he leaves office, when I am president I will.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you an ad that has caused a lot of controversy in this debate about Iraq. MoveOn.org took this ad out, “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?: Cooking the Books for the White House.” Do you believe that General David Petraeus has betrayed the American people?

SEN. CLINTON: Absolutely not. He is a man of great honor and distinction who has served admirably. I don’t condone anything like that, and I have voted against those who would impugn the patriotism and the service of the people who wear the uniform of our country. I don’t believe that that should be said about General Petraeus, and I condemn that. I didn’t think it should’ve been said about Senator Cleland or Senator Kerry. I think it’s important that we end this kind of attacks on the patriotism of those who serve our country.

But let’s be clear about this: This is not a debate about an ad. This is a debate about the direction we should pursue in Iraq, and if we focus on an ad, even though we have all voted, in one way or another, to condemn it and believe that we should cease any such impugning and attacks on anyone who serves our country, then, again, we’re not focused on what the real problem is.

The real problem is a policy in Iraq that has failed, and unfortunately, it is clear that the president does not intend to change direction before he leaves office. That means we will lose, as we have every month this year, more Americans than we lost last year. And there is no end in sight, and the president has 15 months left. And I really believe that the country is against his policy, a majority of the Congress is against his policy. But a very concerted effort in the Senate by Republicans who continue to support the president has prevented us from implementing the kind of guidelines, benchmarks, timelines that actually reflect the reality on the ground. And I’m going to continue to fighting for that in the Senate and when I’m president to begin moving as expeditiously and responsibly as I can to bring our troops home.

MR. RUSSERT: Is it fair to–(clears throat) excuse me–is it fair to say, then, that this ad was an unhelpful distraction to the real debate about the war, and you wish that MoveOn.org had not taken it?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, when I voted for Senator Boxer’s resolution, that was certainly clear. I do not condone, and I do condemn any effort to impugn the patriotism and the service of anyone who’s worn the uniform of our country. I think it should be across the board because, as you certainly know well, many people who have served with distinction, like Senator Kerry or Senator Cleland, have been the subject of extraordinary attacks. Let’s end this, and let’s focus on what we do to support our troops. I believe the best way to support our troops is to begin to bring them home.

MR. RUSSERT: And MoveOn.org should refrain from similar ads in the future?

SEN. CLINTON: Everyone should, Tim. Everyone should.


SEN. CLINTON: This is not the way that we should conduct ourselves in the country. We should stay focused on what we need to do to support our troops and to extricate us from Iraq. But I don’t want to see the debate about where we go in Iraq turned into a debate about any ad. Instead, let’s stay focused on what we should be doing in the Congress to fulfill our responsibility to bring our troops home and to give them the support they need in a very difficult situation for which there is no military solution.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to healthcare. You introduced a bill, obviously, in 1993 when you were first lady working with President Clinton, on this big issue of universal healthcare. It was–got nowhere. It was considered too big, too expensive. You now have introduced a much more scaled down program focusing on use of insurance companies to bring the 40-plus million uninsured under coverage. Chris Dodd, one of your Democratic opponents, has said this: “While she talks about the personal scars she bears, the personal scars borne by the American people are far greater. The mismanagement of the effort in,” ’93 and ’94, “has set back our ability to move toward universal healthcare immeasurably.” Do you believe, in all candor, that your mismanagement of healthcare in ’93 has created a situation where, for 13 years, 47 million Americans have not had healthcare and they are paying the price for your mismanagement and intransigence in 1993?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, Tim, I’m proud that we tried in ’93 and ’94. We were trying to do the right thing. Obviously, we made a lot of mistakes. But I am proud that we set a goal of trying to provide healthcare to every American. And I didn’t quit. You know, I kept working. I was very involved in passing the Children’s Health Insurance Program and getting vaccines for kids to be immunized and making sure that the drugs that they took were appropriately tested for children. And I continued to try to get healthcare for our Gulf War veterans and, in the Senate, to make sure that our Guard and Reserve members and their families have healthcare. So this has remained a passion of mine.

But I’ve also learned a lot of lessons, and I’m bringing those lessons with me into this campaign. The goal remains the same: How do we provide quality, affordable healthcare for every American? But this is a much different plan than what was proposed back in ’93, ’94. This is not government-run healthcare; it does not create any new bureaucracy. In fact, it is very clear in saying that if you are satisfied with the healthcare you have, then you keep it. It is absolutely part of my plan.

But if you’re one of the 47 million Americans without health insurance, or one of the many millions that have health insurance except when it comes time to get the care that your doctor says you need, and the insurance company refuses payment, then you are going to have access to the same health choices menu that members of Congress do. I proposed that back in ’93, ’94, and ran into a firestorm of opposition from the Congress. But I think a lot has changed in the last 14 years. A consensus has developed about what we need to do to try to reach quality, affordable healthcare. So among the many choices that will now be available to Americans, similar to what are available to members of Congress, we will have a public plan option for people who wish to choose that. If it is outside the reach of people–because remember, Medicaid will still take care of the very poor, we will still have the Children’s Health Insurance Program for children. But if it is out of the reach of affordability, we’re going to have healthcare tax credits for individuals, and we’re going to try to provide some healthcare tax credits as well to small businesses.

You know, I believe strongly that a consensus has developed, because people, you know, who didn’t approve of what we were trying to do or who were on the sidelines have seen what has happened. It is not only a moral imperative that we try to cover everyone, it is now an economic necessity. The employer-based system has lost coverage for many people in the last years. We have jobs being lost in our country because we are not competitive economically. We certainly see that most clearly in industries like the auto manufacturing industry, but there are others that are affected as well. We have a lot of inefficiencies in the system. You know, we spend more money than anybody in the world, but we don’t get the best outcomes for all that money we spend. So I think that business, labor, doctors, nurses, hospitals and, most importantly, families understand we’ve got to come together and try to solve this problem. And it will require the drug companies and the insurance companies changing the way they do business, because the way they do business now is not sustainable.

So I’m very confident that we can put together the kind of bipartisan coalition that you know so well is needed, particularly in the Senate, to get anything done, because this plan builds on what works in America, but takes aim at what doesn’t and comes up with some very commonsense ways of trying to fix out problems. And I’ve been very pleased by the positive response that I have received from independent experts and people who have evaluated it. So I think we’re off to a good start and I look forward to debating healthcare with my Republican opponent, whoever that might be, starting in the spring.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to campaign fund-raising, because it’s been–politics and money has been an issue that is of grave concern to the American people. As you well know, this gentleman, Norman Hsu, was a big fund-raiser for you. This is how the Wall Street Journal reported on it. “Senator Hillary Clinton will return $850,000 in campaign contributions raised by a major fund-raiser who has come under federal investigation on multiple fronts. Clinton said she would refund contributions to about 260 donors who were recruited by Norman Hsu, a businessman and Democratic fund-raiser. The $850,000 is the largest ever returned by a candidate because of questionable fund-raising methods.” Also, Mr. Hsu gave free trips to Las Vegas for several of your campaign aides, all expenses paid. You talk about the politics of change. Is this changing the way Washington does business?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I’m very much in favor of public financing, which is the only way to really change a lot of the problems that we have in our campaign finance system. You know, as soon as my campaign found out what I and dozens of other campaigns did not know, that he was a fugitive from justice, we took action. And out of an abundance of caution, we did return any contribution that we could in any way, no matter how indirect, link to him. And I believe that we’ve done what we needed to do based on the information as soon as it came to our attention. But we’ve gone even further, Tim, and we’re installing even additional kinds of checks because, you know, it was something that my campaign and other campaigns going back to 2003 did not uncover in all the vetting that we do. But the real answer here is public financing, and I’m going to work very hard in my time in the Senate and then in the White House to try to get to a public financing system that we can support under the constitution, because, as you know, we’ve got some constitutional issues we have to address, because that is the answer to all of these issues that have arisen.

MR. RUSSERT: But, Senator, as you well know, back in 1996 campaign, this man, Johnny Chung, a–very similar circumstances and he plead guilty to illegally funding of money, and he was quoted as saying, “I see the White House is like a subway. You have to put in coins to open the gates.” How do you convince the American people that you have changed, that you are not going to be the recipient of this tainted money?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, this is a problem for every campaign, Tim, and, you know, you have donors–I have more than 100,000 donors, the vast majority of whom have given me less than $100. And every campaign does the best job it can. But whether it’s campaigns or any other aspect of American life, you try to be as vigilant as possible, but sometimes things get through the net and then you act as quickly as you possibly can, which my campaign has. I am very much aware of how difficult it is to find out everything, but we’re taking extra steps to see if we can’t make sure that any information anywhere is available to us. But, remember, every campaign missed this. Law enforcement authorities in California obviously did not catch this. So we’re going to do what we can to make sure it doesn’t happen. But, again, the real answer is we’re spending an enormous amount of time, money and effort raising money, mostly to be, you know, clear to go on television. And we have got to solve this. It is not good for our political system. It is certainly not the way that most people I know who run for office and want to try to do something good for their constituents and their country want to be spending all of their time. And we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to address it, and there has to be a way that public financing becomes the law of the land.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator, before you go, answer a question I’ve heard from Democrats as I travel around the country, and that is they like Senator Clinton, they respect Senator Clinton, but they’re afraid that she’s too polarizing, that her negatives in the national polls are in the high 40s, the highest of any Democratic candidate. And that she would be incapable of uniting the country behind healthcare, behind withdrawal from Iraq, because she just is too divisive.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, Tim, those are the things that were said about me in New York, as I’m sure you remember. And I worked very hard to give people accurate information about who I am, what I stand for, what I will do, and I was extremely gratified to win in 2000 and even more so to be re-elected with nearly 67 percent of the vote. And I was very pleased that a lot of that vote came from Republicans and independents. You know, I carried a lot of those counties that George Bush had carried just two years before, carried 58 of New York’s 62 counties and, as you know, there’re a lot of red parts of New York.

Because I think it’s important that you look at how I have sought common ground and found it in the Senate. I also have stood my ground against things that I did not approve of, like privatizing Social Security. As I’ve traveled around the country, my support has grown. Anyone who gets the Democratic nomination is going to be subjected to the withering attacks that come from the other side. I think I’ve proven that I not only can survive them but surpass them.

So I believe that, both from the experience that I’ve had in political campaigns and what I have done over the years to, you know, keep coming back and fighting back, I’m the best positioned to win, but more importantly, I think I am in the best position to lead starting January 2009. I’m doing well around the country, and I’m very pleased that people are really making up their own minds about me and not, you know, by being swayed by what second- or third-hand somebody said to them, and I believe that’s what will happen in this campaign. And as I go forward in it every day, I’m even more encouraged that I’m putting together a winning campaign not only for the nomination, but for the White House, because that’s when the hard work starts. We have a lot ahead of us to restore our position in the world, to rebuild our economy and our American middle class and to reform our government and to reclaim the future for our children. And that’s what I’m committed to doing.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Hillary Clinton, thank you very much for sharing your views.

SEN. CLINTON: Good to talk with you, Tim. Thank you very much.

MR. RUSSERT: And you can watch more of Senator Clinton and her seven opponents for the Democratic nomination, a debate this Wednesday night in New Hampshire at Dartmouth College, 9 PM Eastern on MSNBC. That’s Wednesday at 9 PM on MSNBC, the Democrats will debate.

Coming next, Alan Greenspan speaking out and creating a stir at the White House and on Wall Street. The former chairman of the Federal Reserve is next right here only on MEET THE PRESS.


MR. RUSSERT: The former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, his new book, “The Age of Turbulence” after this station break.


MR. RUSSERT: Alan Greenspan, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.

MR. ALAN GREENSPAN: Thank you, Tim.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me pick up on some interviews that you’ve given this week as you’ve been touring, talking about your book, “The Age of Turbulence.” You said this: “I think Bill Clinton was the best Republican president we’ve had in a while.” Republican?

MR. GREENSPAN: I’m sure he doesn’t like that joke, but if you look at his record compared to what I think appropriate policy ought to be, he’s for free trade, he’s for globalization, he was for welfare reform, fiscal restraint and–true enough, he’s not a Republican. I’m sorry, President Clinton, I didn’t mean to say that. But I must say, I had to follow an awful lot of your particular guidelines and found them very compatible with my own.

MR. RUSSERT: He did raise taxes.

MR. GREENSPAN: He did raise taxes, and I must say I could have done without that. But, look, democracies are compromise, and you do what you can so that the majority of the people support you.

MR. RUSSERT: You also said this: “The Bill Clinton administration was a pretty centrist party. But they’re not governing again. The next administration may have the Clinton administration name but the Democratic Party has moved very significantly in the wrong direction.” Hillary Clinton’s party is not Bill Clinton’s party?

MR. GREENSPAN: All I can say is that they’re taking positions which he, as president, veered away from.

MR. RUSSERT: Such as?

MR. GREENSPAN: Whole area of trade, for example, which is a very critical issue because it’s not only the issue of trade, it refers to the globalization and how one views what is the driving force in this world which creates prosperity.

MR. RUSSERT: When the book first came out, The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward wrote the story, a front page story, and this is how he characterized it: “Alan Greenspan, who served as Federal Reserve chairman for 18 years and was the leading Republican economist for the past three decades, levels unusually harsh criticism at President Bush and the Republican Party in his new book, arguing that Bush abandoned the central conservative principle of fiscal restraint.

“He expresses deep disappointment with Bush. `My biggest frustration remained the president’s unwillingness to wield his veto against out-of-control spending. Not exercising the veto power became a hallmark of the Bush presidency. To my mind, Bush’s collaborate-don’t-confront approach was a major mistake. The Republicans in Congress lost their way. They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither.'”

Which bill should the president have vetoed?

MR. GREENSPAN: A whole series of them. First of all, let me just say that remember that if failure to veto is a problem, the real problem are the bills that should be vetoed. My major concern was not with the administration, but what I saw was a deteriorating position with respect to policy on the part of the Congress when both Houses were under Republican rule. And it’s that which I found to be extraordinarily debilitating to the outlook. I basically think that the president’s failure to veto to try to collaborate and to try to find ways to get compromises on bills, in retrospect, didn’t work. And I think the consequence is that, effectively, the Republican Party lost its way.

MR. RUSSERT: The issue of tax cuts is front and center in your book and has been the topic of debate in Washington this week. You write candidly that Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat from North Dakota, Robert Rubin, then President Clinton’s economic adviser, came to you and said, “If you testify before the Senate and embrace the Bush tax cut plan, it’s going to open up the floodgates and it’s going to encourage people to give big tax cuts.” And that’s exactly what happened, you say, much to your consternation, that you didn’t specifically endorse the plan. A frequent critic of yours, Paul Krugman, has weighed in on in this, and this is the way he describes it, and I want to give you a chance to talk about it.

“When President Bush first took office, it seemed unlikely that he would succeed in getting his proposed tax cuts enacted.

“Then Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, testified before the Senate Budget Committee. Suddenly, his greatest concern, the `emerging key fiscal policy need,’ he told Congress, was to avert the threat that the federal government might actually pay off” “its debt. To avoid this awful outcome, he advocated tax cuts.” “The floodgates were opened.

“And Mr. Greenspan has just published a book in which he castigates the Bush administration for its fiscal irresponsibility. Well, I’m sorry, but that criticism comes six years late and a trillion dollars short.

“If anyone had doubts about Mr. Greenspan’s determination not to inconvenience the Bush administration, those doubts were resolved two years later when the administration proposed another round of tax cuts even though the budget was now deep in deficit. And guess what? The former high priest of fiscal responsibility did not object. And in 2004 he expressed support for making the Bush tax cuts permanent–remember,” those “are the tax cuts he now says he didn’t endorse.”

MR. GREENSPAN: There are so many questions to–that raises, that I’ll try to get them–try to give you short answers. First of all, the notion that I was extraordinarily powerful and my word carried great weight is not in evidence on such issues as Medicare where I, for years, have raised alarms about the size of the problems. My views were wholly disregarded. I could give you a long list of things in which I had strong views, nothing happened. So all of a sudden, I become this powerful force in moving tax policy.

Now, there’s a fascinating problem. The 2001 tax cut was a very unusual tax cut in the sense that it confronted, for the first time in 150 years, the possibility that we would actually eliminate the debt in the United States. And it was that concern which creates major problems with respect to accumulating assets. When you have $500 billion surpluses, when the debt is effectively zero, creates huge holdings of private assets by the federal government, and for reasons I express in the book, I think that’s very bad idea, and I must say, Bill Clinton agreed with me on that issue.

With respect to the question of whether I changed my mind, the answer is I did change my mind. Because, when it became apparent that the huge surpluses that most every analyst in the business was projecting were disappearing, I went back to my old position, which is namely, I am in favor of lower taxes, lower spending, and specifically a cut in taxes which reduces the double taxation dividends. When that occurred, mainly in 2003 and 2004, I said, yes, I would like to see the tax cuts, but they are contingent on meeting what was then the law, namely PAYGO, which was their mechanism in the 1990 act which required that all budget proposals be neutral. And so, effectively, as a number of congressmen asked me in hearings, well, then, “Do we understand you correctly that you would like the tax cut, but unless it is matched by reductions in spending, you would oppose it,” I said, “That is correct. That is my position.” I did change my view. It wasn’t in 2007; it was a lot earlier than that.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe either political party has stepped up to the crisis we face with Social Security and Medicare in the coming years?

MR. GREENSPAN: I do not.

MR. RUSSERT: How big a crisis will that be?

MR. GREENSPAN: Social Security is not a big crisis. We’re approximately 2 percentage points of payroll short over the very long run. It’s a significant closing of the gap, but it’s doable, and doable in any number of ways. Medicare is a wholly different issue because, remember, right now, with the current entitlement, we can afford Medicare. It’s easily refunded. We’re going to double the size of the retired population. And by all of the analysis I go through in the book, it’s very evident to me that we are not able to actually deliver on the Medicare we are promising, and I think that is marginally unethical to immoral because we are promising to people who have not yet retired a fairly significant Medicare package which, if they knew they weren’t going to fully get, they would take actions now–maybe retire later, do different things–and I think everybody has been avoiding this issue. We avoided it in the Social Security Commission in 1983, and everyone’s done–been doing it since. Then it was more than 20 years before. We’re now right at the point where if we don’t act we’re going to be in very serious problem–trouble.

MR. RUSSERT: Are we heading towards a recession?

MR. GREENSPAN: We’re heading towards a slowdown. Whether that actually leads to a recession is dependent on things we can’t forecast at this moment. My own guess is the odds are less than 50-50 that we’re heading to a recession. But there is no question we’ve got significant pressure on home prices, which are expected to move down quite–could conceivably get considerably lower. And that will curtail the net housing wealth of the American household. And history tells us that causes some weakness. It’s too soon to call this one way or the other, frankly.

MR. RUSSERT: You mentioned housing. There’s been a lot of debate about your role with the so-called housing bubble, your whole role in terms of subprime interest rates for housing. This is how Conde Nast, the–Portfolio, wrote about it, John Cassidy. He said this: “In 2004, as the subprime boom was cranking up, Greenspan advised homeowners to switch from fixed-rate mortgages to adjustable-rate loans.” “April” of “2005” at “a speech that probably now haunts him, he said, `Innovation has brought about a multitude of new products, such as subprime loans and niche credit programs for immigrants. Such developments are representative of the market responses that have driven the financial services industry throughout the history of our country. Where, once, more-marginal applicants would simply have been denied credit, lenders are now able to quite efficiently judge the risks posed by individual applicants and to price that risk appropriately.'” Are you responsible for this bursting of the housing bubble?

MR. GREENSPAN: No. Shall I explain? First of all, I did make a speech in February of 2004 in which I explained a fairly interesting analysis by the Federal Reserve staff which said that there were a lot of, a lot of home buyers who would do far better were they to take adjustable-rate mortgages, because they weren’t going to live in the home long enough and the price they were paying to get the fixed-rate mortgage was exceptionally high. Now this, incidentally, was not subprime, this was prime adjustable rates. A week later I shows up–show up at the Economic Club of New York, and, with a thousand people asking me all sorts of questions–I shouldn’t put a thousand, a thousand people there and a couple people asking me questions, the question that came up right at the top, “Are you, in this–in this day, disparaging the 30-year mortgage?” Because the issue was that vs. adjustable rate. And I said, “No, on the contrary. When I take out a mortgage, I take out a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.” I was referring to a special, small category of people. But it had nothing to do with subprime.

But with the whole housing boom, we’re dealing with a world problem. More than two dozen, two dozen nations are experiencing exactly what we are experiencing. In fact, our housing price boom is less than the average, and this is very clear–this very clearly calls for a global explanation, not for an individual explanation of what central banks do. And, indeed, central banks around the world have largely lost their power to affect long-term mortgage rates because it’s global forces which are pushing it, and we proved it. We tried to raise the rate in 2004 and we failed. We tried again in 2005 and we failed. And so it’s very clear to me that central banks, ourselves, the Federal Reserve, included, had very little control over the extent of that boom.

MR. RUSSERT: Another comment in your book has caused a lot of debate, and here it is: “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” You were asked about that on the “Today” program, and this is how you answered.

(Videotape, “Today”)

MR. GREENSPAN: I was expressing my view. Saddam Hussein was obviously seeking to get a chokehold on the Straits of Hormuz, where about 18 million barrels a day flow from the Middle East to the industrial world. Had he been able to get ahold of a nuclear weapon and indeed move through Kuwait and into Saudi Arabia and control the Straits of Hormuz, it would’ve caused chaos.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: What evidence was there that Saddam Hussein had acquired or was trying to acquire a nuclear weapon, or was trying to get a chokehold on the Straits of Hormuz?

MR. GREENSPAN: There was no evidence he had a nuclear weapon because, my judgment is, he would’ve expressed that he had it and that would’ve created a real problem. You have to watch that man over 30 years. First of all, let me just say that it’s very clear, if there were no oil under the sands of Iraq, he would never have gotten the wherewithal, the resources to effectively threaten his neighbors and essentially potentially threaten the rest of the world through a global shortage of oil, which he could’ve done. The evidence I have is I watched him, one, come up against Iran but moving on Kuwait, threatening Saudi Arabia. And what his actions, as I observed them year after year, conclude, led me to conclude, he was clearly trying to get control of Middle East oil. Now, the thought of him in control of Middle East oil and then, with his resources, being able to buy a nuclear device, I found scary. And, indeed, having him out of power was critical to me. Whether he was deposed by internal means or by war or anything was less important to me than he left.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe the United States should take pre-emptive military action against people who could disrupt our economy?

MR. GREENSPAN: I think that is a very significant moral problem which we all confront, and, indeed, we had that in spades during the Cold War when there was this major debate which went on about, you know, if you see a missile coming at you, before you can know whether it is really going to create a problem, do you launch a retaliatory attack? For a democratic society, for one in which civil liberties are so critical to us and individual freedoms, the thought of pre-emptive war is anathema. And yet people have to consider what would we do? And I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know of anyone who really has an effectively scripted answer to that.

MR. RUSSERT: Your book has generated response from the president, has generated an op-ed piece from the vice president saying that you’re off the mark. Has your book–how has your book affected your relationship with people you’ve worked for?

MR. GREENSPAN: Not to any significant extent because I haven’t had contact with a lot of people since I’ve made a number of my remarks. But nothing of what I said could come as a surprise to anybody.

MR. RUSSERT: You have worked for a lot of presidents. Who was the smartest?

MR. GREENSPAN: It’s a toss-up between Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon. They both had–they were both extraordinarily intelligent. The one thing, however, that Clinton did which I just found awesome was he went before, he went before the Congress in his State of the Union message and somebody put the wrong speech in the TelePrompTer, and for, I don’t know anybody who knew the difference. And I’m telling you, that requires a degree of intellectual capabilities which is awesome.

MR. RUSSERT: Who was the most profane?

MR. GREENSPAN: Richard Nixon, by multiple quantities.

MR. RUSSERT: Who was the most normal?

MR. GREENSPAN: Gerald R. Ford, the most decent man–one of the most decent people I ever met.

MR. RUSSERT: Who was the most–who was the least knowledgeable about economic matters?

MR. GREENSPAN: I would say they were all, to a greater or lesser extent, fairly knowledgeable. There was no–none of the presidents that I worked with was uninformed about most of the key issues in economics.

MR. RUSSERT: Who put the most political pressure on you?

MR. GREENSPAN: George H. W. Bush.

MR. RUSSERT: Before we go, I was quite taken by the passage in the book about my colleague, Andrea Mitchell, and your first date. Here’s Andrea and Alan at the Kennedy Center Honors. And this is what you wrote about your first date. “Finally when the holidays arrived, we scheduled a date for December 28, 1984. It was a snowy night. It might not be everybody’s idea of first-date conversation, but at the restaurant we ended up discussing monopolies. I told her I’d written an essay on the subject and invited her back to my apartment to read it. We did go to my apartment,” “I showed her this essay I’d written on antitrust for Ayn Rand. She read it, and we discussed it.” Do you often lure women back to your apartment by saying, “You want to see my essay”?

MR. GREENSPAN: I didn’t have any sketchings or etchings.

MR. RUSSERT: It all worked out.

MR. GREENSPAN: It worked out, indeed.

MR. RUSSERT: Andrea Mitchell and Alan Greenspan, together. Must have been one, one hell of an essay.


MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Chairman, we thank you for sharing your views.

MR. GREENSPAN: Thank you.

MR. RUSSERT: And you can hear more about that romantic first date about antitrust monopolies with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell. She’s going to join Alan Greenspan right here for our MEET THE PRESS Take Two Web Extra on our Web site this afternoon, mtp.msnbc.com. And you’ll find out what Fidel Castro says about Chairman Greenspan as well. We’ll be right back.


MR. RUSSERT: That’s all for today. Watch MSNBC Wednesday night. I’ll be moderating the Democratic presidential candidates’ debate at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Wednesday night, 9 PM on MSNBC.

We’ll be back next week. If it’s Sunday, it’s MEET THE PRESS.

Tomorrow night is family day. If you have dinner with your kids five times a week, they’re less likely to drink, smoke or use drugs. It’s amazing research. Have dinner with your kids.




Meet the Press (NBC News) – Sunday, September 23, 2007

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