THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, WASHINGTON TIMES; MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT TAPED: FRIDAY, APRIL 29, 2011 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF APRIL 30-MAY 1, 2011
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Born in the USA.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) We've had every official in Hawaii, Democrat and Republican, every news outlet that has investigated this, confirm that, yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii, August 4th, 1961, in Kapiolani Hospital.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama released his original long-form certificate of live birth this week. It states that Barack Obama's place of birth is Honolulu, Hawaii. The certificate includes signatures from the attending doctor, the local registrar and the president's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. It also includes the name of the president's father, Barack Hussein Obama. This week's release of the long-form certificate is intended to snuff out the so-called birther claim; namely, that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen. A recent national poll says that 25 percent of Americans say they do not believe, and 18 percent of Americans say they do not know, whether the U.S. president is a U.S. citizen. Both groups are nicknamed birthers.
President Obama included this jab for those very birthers this week.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) We've got better stuff to do. I've got better stuff to do. We've got big problems to solve, and I'm confident we can solve them. We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Some say the, quote-unquote, "carnival barker" words are intended for Donald Trump, the international real-estate entrepreneur. Mr. Trump had demanded that President Obama furnish his official birth certificate, and Mr. Trump congratulated himself on so doing.
DONALD TRUMP (prospective Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) Today I'm very proud of myself, because I've accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish. We have to look at it. We have to see, is it real? Is it proper? What's on it? But I hope it checks out beautifully.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why did President Obama wait so long to squelch this controversy? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: He made a mistake, John. It was working for a long time for him. It appeared to be this young president who had already put out a certificate of live birth who was being hassled by a bunch of conspiracy theaters -- theorists and all the rest.
Then Donald Trump got on to it and began pounding it and pounding it and saying, "Where's the original birth certificate?" And the issue metastasized. Three fourths of Iowa Republicans said Obama was born outside of the country or they don't know whether he was. It was beginning to meld into the independents and damaging Obama there.
Belatedly, after a lot of people who were in the center said, "For heaven's sakes, release the birth certificate," Obama did it. And I'll tell you, John, this is a tremendous victory for Donald Trump.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why didn't he do it in the first round?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think he should have done it right after the election in -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why didn't he? Why?
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't -- I think maybe he feels it was beneficial. But let me say this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He didn't want to dignify the issue?
MR. BUCHANAN: That could have been it. But let me say this. Donald Trump won this battle hands down. He grabbed this issue. He went to the top of the polls among Republicans. Then he gets the president of the United States, forces him to march into the White House press room and reverse a decision he took two and a half years ago.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, you knock down negative stories right away. It's a basic political rule. Why didn't he knock it down right away?
MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, the state of Hawaii does not release this long-form certificate. He had to send his personal lawyer over there in order to get a copy made, and he had to get -- ask for a special exemption.
Frankly, this looked like a joke among fringe people in this country. And there was no reason to take it seriously. It was -- independents who everybody seeks in the electorate were repelled by this. And you saw the Republicans basically winking and nodding, saying, "Well, we take him at his word that he's a citizen," but kind of suggesting, well, maybe not, because they liked this feeding the activist element within their party. So it was working, actually, for both parties.
But Pat is right. It did seep into the mainstream of the electorate. And I remember when the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth undermined John Kerry's campaign, and they waited through a long summer thinking that people couldn't possibly take it seriously.
And so I think the president came in at the right moment. And I don't see how this is a big victory for Donald Trump, who was proven wrong in all his innuendo about the birth certificate. And if the Republicans want to nominate Donald Trump, hooray.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the controversy now closed?
MS. CROWLEY: I think so on the birth certificate. But let's be clear that the rumors about Obama's birth certificate actually began out of the Hillary Clinton campaign. It came out of the Democrats.
Look, this whole issue was never about the birth certificate per se. It was about some other things; first of all, the fact that Barack Obama was never properly vetted by an adoring, drooling, lap- dog press the way every other presidential candidate of both parties has been in recent times. The other point I want to make is that we are a results-oriented society in America. Perhaps the biggest reason why Bill Clinton was able to get away with perjury and obstruction of justice is that he was delivering a booming economy for the American people, and so the sideshow of the Lewinsky scandal was considered irrelevant.
In this circumstance, these questions have been percolating now for a while because Obama has not been able to deliver economically for the American people -- high unemployment, now high inflation, very weak economic growth. If this economy were booming, all of these questions would have receded into the background.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Mort.
OK, Donald Trump on the current state of American media.
MR. TRUMP: (From videotape.) The press is very protective of President Obama, very protective. They're not protective of me, but they're protective of President Obama.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Donald Trump right, Mort?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, perhaps to some degree.
I just want to go back to why he didn't reveal earlier, why the president -- frankly, it was insulting. I mean, I think there was nobody else in this country who would have had to go through what Obama went through. And it had, I believe, a racist component to it. I think it was outrageous that he had to have gone through this. But anyways, he did it.
I don't think that the press is necessarily protective of the president. It seemed to be a kind of off-the-charts kind of charge. So I don't think -- a lot of people didn't take it seriously. It was, as Pat said, something that was seeping into the mainstream because of the way Donald Trump was focusing on it. So I think it was right for him to do it. But frankly, I think it was insulting. And if I were he, I would have felt the same way.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I agree.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think the press is protective.
MS. CLIFT: I agree. I think it's insulting to not only Barack Obama, but a lot of black people in this country who wonder what kind of a gauntlet this president has to run. But I also don't like slandering the Hillary Clinton campaign here. They didn't question the authenticity of the birth certificate. That comes out of a Mark Penn memo saying he couldn't believe that the country would elect someone who hadn't come out of the American experience because he had spent so much time abroad and so forth. They never --
MS. CROWLEY: Therefore --
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. Let me finish.
MS. CROWLEY: -- the rumors --
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. They didn't go down that track, and they never questioned the birth certificate.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, let me talk about the protective press, all right? We heard the word racist thrown out here, potentially racist. And they're saying Donald Trump is racist because he wants to see Obama's test scores.
George Bush got a 1206 on his scholastic aptitude test because New Yorker Magazine dug it up and mocked it and laughed at it. They found out what Al Gore's scores were. They were 1350. They dug up John Kerry's scores. But somebody asked for Barack Obama's scores and it's racist, when Barack Obama himself admitted he benefited from affirmative action in 1990.
MS. CLIFT: And you know what they're asking, Pat? Because you went on television and said it's affirmative action all the way.
MR. BUCHANAN: Obama admitted it.
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)
MR. BUCHANAN: Obama admitted it in 1990 on November 16th in an argument on affirmative action.
MS. CLIFT: And I say hooray. If affirmative action turns out a U.S. president, let's put it throughout the country.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's not going to turn him out. Why don't you ask these questions?
MS. CLIFT: They produced him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --
MS. CLIFT: Because he's an intellectual. There's no question about his intellectual capacity.
MR. BUCHANAN: Why don't you ask for -- MS. CROWLEY: There is a lot in Obama's origins and past that still remains murky.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Like what? Like what?
MS. CROWLEY: It remains -- you name it; selective -- the draft records, the medical records.
MS. CLIFT: Draft records?
MS. CROWLEY: Who paid for his education?
MS. CLIFT: There was no draft, Monica.
MS. CROWLEY: Of course. Who paid for his education? All of these outstanding questions --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do we have a right to know all that?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, we do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We do? Why do we have a right to know all that?
MR. BUCHANAN: Because he's the president of the United States, and the reporters used to go after all this information.
MS. CROWLEY: And it should have been done a long time ago.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's a legitimate query -- these are all legitimate queries?
MR. BUCHANAN: They've always been legitimate queries.
MS. CROWLEY: For everybody.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that his --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Excuse me. It may have been a legitimate query the first time around. At this stage, two years later, frankly --
MS. CROWLEY: Right, but they were never answered, Mort.
MR. BUCHANAN: Why is it not, Mort?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is the impact --
MS. CROWLEY: They were never answered.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, please. What is the impact of this story in the international press and the way it's playing abroad, say, in Paris or London or Berlin? MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I don't want to say that I'm totally familiar with all of these responses. But I do think it is going to be seen in many parts of the world as part of an American history of racism.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, they're seeing us as nuts.
MS. CROWLEY: No, no, no.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting.
MR. BUCHANAN: I saw the headlines from Britain. They say, you know, America is loses its senses and all this other stuff. They think it's ridiculous that we're going into the birther issue, no doubt about it.
MS. CLIFT: The man was elected. Get over it.
MS. CROWLEY: These questions --
MS. CLIFT: Asking how he paid for his college education -- I remember reading about his student loans.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The true birthers probably feel he's an impostor.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Come on.
MS. CLIFT: Well, that's what the questions are designed to further, the notion that he somehow snuck into this office and he's undeserving.
MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. This is the first political bloodletting of campaign 2012. So who trumped whom? Did Obama trump Trump, or did Trump trump Obama? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: Trump went from zero to being competitive among Republicans, forced the president into the press room to get his birth certificate; said, "Bring it back," and Obama brought it back.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think -- MR. BUCHANAN: Trump won hands down.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it was a foregone conclusion that President Obama would have to reveal --
MR. BUCHANAN: By the end of the argument, I was just yelling on television, "Please reveal it and get it out of the way."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he kept it alive by bringing the full certificate forward?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think he deliberately kept it alive. I don't know why, but he kept it alive too long, and it began to hurt him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he knew all along that he could produce this birth certificate on call and he was saving it in order to direct the press to cover this and not cover, say, this weekend, like Bernanke?
MR. BUCHANAN: No. I mean, I think he was holding it off for some reason. I'm not sure which. People said it's an embarrassment. "Why should I do this?" Mort says; maybe so. But he held it too long. Three weeks ago he should have done it.
MS. CLIFT: Well, three weeks ago or two days ago, it was a degrading thing for this president to have to get involved. I'm glad he finally did it. He lanced the boil to some extent. But, you know, people who would never vote for him anyway are not going to let up. There'll be more conspiracy theories out there.
MS. CROWLEY: First of all --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They're easy to deal with, and the way you deal with it is just to release the documents. So why didn't he do that?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. Why didn't he do that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't know why, but I share --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why didn't he do it in the first round?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: This is where Pat's right. He should have done it a lot earlier. This should have never been the kind of an issue it is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there anything else to say on it?
MS. CROWLEY: A, he should have released it a long time ago. Failing that, the press should have done their job and investigated his past, which they still resist doing. And the third reason why all of these questions continue to percolate out is because Obama's policies seem fundamentally antithetical to what made this country great in the first place. MS. CLIFT: Boy, talk about a pile of innuendo. (Laughs.)
MS. CROWLEY: And that feeds those kinds of -- it's the truth, Eleanor.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who trumped whom?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think it was a benefit for Donald Trump, as Pat says.
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: But I don't think it was a loss for Obama in the end.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe in the slightly longer run that Trump will be trumped by Obama on this.
MS. CLIFT: Hear, hear.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Tank Torment.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) Whenever gas prices shoot up, like clockwork you see politicians racing to the cameras, waving three-point plans for $2 gas. The truth is, there is no silver bullet that can bring down gas prices right away.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president says, in effect, that he cannot perform magic to drive down the price of gasoline. This week the average national price of a gallon of gasoline reached $3.87. That's 24 cents below the all-time national average, which peaked in 2008 at $4.11 per gallon.
Mr. Obama says don't look to him to save the day. But Donald Trump, the international entrepreneur, says a lot a president can do.
MR. TRUMP: (From videotape.) Now, yesterday our president said that he has very little impact over the price of gasoline. I think he's 100 percent wrong.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Some say there are several realistic courses of action the president can initiate.
One, strategic petroleum reserve. Tap temporarily into the country's emergency oil supply, 700 million barrels of oil stored off the coast of New Orleans. President Clinton tapped into the reserve in the year 2000 when he faced a price spike above $3 a gallon. President George W. Bush did the same when prices topped $3.50 a gallon.
Two, restore the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit. Drivers would be annoyed, true, but it would reduce demand for gas, which would bring down gas prices. Three, more drilling permits. Seriously ramp up production of U.S. domestic oil reserves. When speculators realize the current price is as high as it will get and that the U.S. government is determined to do so, speculators will sell holdings of oil futures, and that sell-off will cause the price per barrel to drop significantly. That in turn will be reflected at the pump.
Four, resist green-energy fanatics. They want gasoline prices to zoom to $8 per gallon with European-style gas taxes so consumers will switch to green-energy cars like hybrids and use mass transit like buses.
Pollution-free air is their goal. But President Obama says he wants to move towards green energy, not away from it. Some say that is a bad idea.
Five, don't take away $4 billion in tax cuts for big oil. The industry will only pass on their costs of paying higher taxes to motorists in the form of higher consumer prices for their gasoline.
Question: What does President Obama want? Is it to wean America off oil? Is that his objective? I ask you, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: That's an eventual objective, but we're not getting there any time soon. And frankly, the gas prices rise -- gases too -- (laughs) -- rise this time of the year, and they come down, because it's the driving season. And there's some speculation involved, and the gas tanks have to convert to different kind of blends. And then you have all the turmoil in the Middle East. And there's a question whether that's an excuse or an explanation.
But I thought the president is right in calling on the Congress to eliminate those subsidies to the oil companies. Exxon's profits went up 69 percent over the same time last year. And Boehner, the speaker, looked like he was going to go along with it until --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me --
MS. CLIFT: -- his religion got in the way, his anti-tax orthodoxy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, look who agrees with the president that tax breaks for big oil companies should be canceled.
HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH): (From videotape.) We're at a time when the federal government's short on revenues. We need to control spending, but we need revenues to keep the government moving. They ought to be paying their fair share.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what do you think about that, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: It's $4 billion. That's peanuts.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Boehner on board? MS. CROWLEY: No.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's peanuts. And Exxon makes -- you know what they make in profit? Eight cents on the dollar.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, poor Exxon.
MR. BUCHANAN: That's it. But here's the problem. The president is right in this sense, John. The overall problem is that all the oil producers in the country, many of them have peaked and have started to diminish the supply. And coming onto the world demand is China and India and Brazil and these emerging countries. The pressure of demand on supply is going to grow. We are never going back, I think, to $3 or $2-a-gallon gasoline or the oil prices not going to $50 a barrel, because the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is China giving tax subsidies for the purchase of cars?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I'll tell you, what the Chinese are doing right now is they're going around the world to Venezuela. They're buying up in advance enormous amounts of oil. And they're playing for the future, and the United States should do the same.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They're not only doing it in Venezuela. They did it in Iran. They've got huge energy investments and holdings in Iran.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right. They're in Sudan.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And that's one of the reasons why they're so close to Iran. And they are, as you say, developing a long-term plan. The problem that we have, we don't have a long-term plan. We don't have a short-term plan. We have a tremendous amount of energy available within this country --
MS. CROWLEY: Yes.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- or in the offshore --
MR. BUCHANAN: All kinds.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- and we're not allowing people to go after it.
MS. CROWLEY: That's exactly right.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And we're sending hundreds of billions of dollars abroad. It's one of the most insane programs that this country has, and it's totally counterproductive to the consumer and to the government.
MS. CROWLEY: The last time gas hit $4 a gallon, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi went before the cameras and blamed the high gas prices on the, quote, "two oil men in the White House." She has yet to make any remarks about this time around with gas over four bucks a gallon.
Look, this administration has made it very clear they wanted cap and trade. They wanted to reduce our dependence on oil. But they wanted that supplanted by this huge new tax on consumption, energy consumption, on the American public. If they had gotten the cap and trade through the Congress, that would have been tantamount to the largest tax increase in the history of the world. When that failed, he has then tried to rebrand it as green energy. That is also --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat.
MS. CROWLEY: -- failing, those subsidies.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you noticed that the oil rigs in the Gulf are disappearing and they're moving off the coast of Brazil, and that means they're feeding an international --
MR. BUCHANAN: That is exactly right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that compounding -- is this denial of the Gulf --
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, this --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- compounding the whole problem?
MR. BUCHANAN: It is. Look, the United States is very foolish. We are in a fiercely competitive world. A lot of these countries are going after their oil because it's an enormous supply of revenue for them. And when the United States shuts itself in, whether it's up in Alaska or off Florida or off the Gulf Coast, the United States is just pulling itself out of -- John, the whole thing is a --
MS. CLIFT: That's why --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- it's a paralysis of policy.
MS. CLIFT: That's why Donald Trump says he would just go over there and take the oil, right?
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Will high gas prices derail the economic recovery? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: Economic recovery, I hate to say it, with 1.8 percent growth in the first quarter, has already been derailed.
MS. CLIFT: Well, the economists said that it's a stall, but they don't believe it's off the tracks. We had terrible weather and we did have the rising oil prices. But I'm not ready to say we're sinking back to where we were. MS. CROWLEY: Well, an anemic 1.8 percent annual growth rate in the first quarter is pathetic. And actually, if you exclude inventory, it's only a .8 percent growth rate. And, look, these high gas prices are eating into whatever disposable income Americans have left in their pockets. And the chairman of Wal-Mart this week said, "Our customers are actually running out of money much earlier in the month than they used to." This has the potential to send this economy back into recession.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that? High energy prices and high food prices --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: High --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this going to derail the economy?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's certainly going to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will it be a double dip?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: There is a real risk that it'll be a double dip. When you have a 1.8 percent increase in GDP, that is the equivalent of a double dip, because we have the most stimulative monetary and fiscal policy. Normally speaking, the economy should be growing at 7 percent.
Now, let me just say this. High energy prices, high food prices are going to take $150 (billion), $200 billion out of the consumers' pockets this year. That is a real headwind for the consumer. And when the consumer sees that every day or every week when he has to fill up his car, it really affects his willingness and his ability and his confidence to go ahead and spend elsewhere. So it is undoubtedly affecting the consumer, and in a very negative way. It's the last thing we need right now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it also going to negatively impact unemployment, making unemployment rates worse?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: For sure. If you have a weak -- look, the consumer is 70 percent of the economy. If the consumer, who's spending very little now, continues to spend very little, it's going to affect unemployment. It's going to affect the whole economy. And we could slide, if not into a double dip in the sense of a decline, you'll have such a weak growth in the economy, it'll be the equivalent of a double dip.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Michelle and Jill.
The joint appearance by America's first and second ladies marks the opening salvo in the soft side of the 2012 presidential race. Parade Magazine is a highly prized showcase for first ladies and second ladies, with a readership in the high millions. Their joint appearance sends a political message of unity between the Bidens and the Obamas and makes clear that this is the ticket that will lead the country for the next four years, if re-elected. Speculation that Obama might dump Biden is now over.
Question: Besides signaling that the 2012 Democratic presidential ticket is going to remain Obama-Biden, what's the other possible political plus that First Lady Michelle and Second Lady Jill bring to the 2012 election? Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: Well, it's a unity of mothers and women. And I think if you read that article, they talk about their families and they also talk about the work they're doing with military families and the balance between work and life. So I think reading about their lives and how they're living many of the same problems they're trying to address is very appealing to women. And it's women who really determine presidential elections. And I think this president is trying to recreate the coalition that elected him in 2008. And both of these women are terrific assets.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he has to bring back suburban women, whom he did not have in the 2008 election?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think his problem is independents and, frankly, white voters, John. It's a real problem. They really have diminished. And he's got to get back some of them. I do think this. Initially Michelle Obama, during the campaign, came off, because of a couple of statements, as pretty militant. And I think, since she's been the first lady, I think she's done an outstanding job. And Jill Biden has only been a positive for the administration, although she does not seem to be as well-known as, say, the wife of Dick Cheney.
But I think they are both assets, there's no doubt about it, for the Obama administration. And the more you get them out on the road and get them visible, there's no negatives attached right now, I think, to either of them, and a lot of positives.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suburban women have soured on President Obama. Why?
MS. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, I think the whole array of issues, starting with "Obamacare," socialized medicine, first and foremost; I think the economic --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about the economy?
MS. CROWLEY: -- the economic issues, yes. Women have really borne the brunt of the unemployment crisis in this country, to a large extent. And Pat is absolutely right, especially when it comes to the white vote. But white women now are slipping away. So it's interesting to see Michelle Obama and Jill Biden side by side. They have been tremendous assets for their husbands. Remember, President Nixon used to say, "I may be controversial, but Pat Nixon isn't." And I think Michelle Obama and Jill Biden have played their cards absolutely perfectly. And this might be the beginning of a new front for the campaign, much more active roles for the first and second ladies.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Millions of suburban women are now the sole breadwinners in their families.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's not only that. Millions of suburban women live in suburban homes, and their homes have gone down drastically in value. And that was -- the home equity was always the largest asset on the balance sheet of the American family. And we've lost, you know, $9 trillion of home wealth, home-equity wealth. That is really affecting them. And they see what's going on.
What you are also seeing, by the way, since you're also seeing a continuing decline in home prices, is you're not seeing an improvement in employment. And their husbands, or themselves if they're going out and working, they all experience that. Those statistics that you read now publicly, 8.8, are nowhere close to the reality. The reality is much closer to 20 percent. And that affects everybody.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I guess I don't see this slippage among suburban women for Democrats.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Soccer moms. Soccer moms.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but you still have this division between the parties when it comes to reproductive rights and when it comes to health care and health issues. And I think the way that the Republicans went after Planned Parenthood, that's not going to play well in suburbia. Planned Parenthood still has a good brand name. And I think the Republicans are really overreaching. And the Medicare proposals, some of those --
MR. BUCHANAN: Single moms --
MS. CLIFT: They're not soccer moms, but some of those women, they really rely on health care.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction: Trump has peaked. Yes or no?
MR. BUCHANAN: Not just yet.
MS. CLIFT: Yes. He's fired. (Laughs.)
MS. CROWLEY: Don't discount Donald Trump.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is no. MS. CROWLEY: No.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, he has.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, he has not.