The McLaughlin Group Host: John McLaughlin Panel: Patrick Buchanan, MSNBC; Eleanor Clift, Newsweek; James Pethokoukis, Reuters Breakingviews; Liz Marlantes, Christian Science Monitor Taped: Friday, September 16, 2011 Broadcast: Weekend of September 17-18, 2011
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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Obama's New York Setback.
REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT BOB TURNER (R-NY): (From videotape.) It is people like me who got off their couch and said I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore. (Applause.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's Republican Bob Turner, a retired cable television executive. He's the newest member of the U.S. House. In a special election this week, Republican Turner defeated Democratic New York State Assemblyman David Weprin of the Jewish faith by eight points, 54 to 46.
Turner will now take the seat once held by resigned New York Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner. Weiner's seat had been held by Democrats for more than 90 years. It was also a district that went big for President Obama, 55 percent -- a Republican and a Catholic.
Turner's win was a referendum on Mr. Obama, many believe. Jewish voters in the Turner district, traditionally Democratic, overwhelmingly disapproved of fellow Democrat Barack Obama. They particularly are offended by what they see as bad policies and anti- Israel rhetoric. And get this: Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, crossed party lines and supported Republican Turner.
FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR ED KOCH (D): (From videotape.) President Obama is a nice guy, and I like him and I helped elect him and all of those things. He threw Israel under the bus.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Koch sees the Turner win as proof positive of President Obama's mishandling of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
Question: Is Ed Koch right? Has President Obama thrown Israel under the bus? Pat Buchanan.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: No, he hasn't, really, John. There's no doubt he's distanced himself from Netanyahu. He's been critical of Netanyahu and the settlements and things. And Netanyahu does not like Obama, and he moves very close to the Republicans.
But in this district, John, which is important, not only Ed Koch -- and there's an Orthodox Jewish community there. The New York Post and the New York Daily News endorsed Turner. This is really, in a way, an anti-Obama vote, I think, really sending him a message out there. And it's a tremendous victory for Republicans.
And what it says to Democratic Senate candidates and others is, look, the president of the United States may be a real anchor, an albatross for you in your election. You'd better separate yourself from him. It's a terrific win for the Republicans. It's a bad defeat for the Democrats and a very bad message --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did Koch say what he said?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he said it because many in the Jewish community feel that Obama is unsympathetic to Israel in a way that, for example, George W. Bush was not -- he was on all fours with Ariel Sharon -- and that Obama is not sympathetic to Israel in the way that others --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Turner sympathetic to Israel?
MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, now he's very -- I don't know where he was, but he is now. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sign me up. Eleanor.
ELEANOR CLIFT: President Obama has tried to adjust the relationship more like President Bush's father, George H.W. Bush. He's tried to get peace talks going. They haven't succeeded. But the U.N. is about to vote on whether to approve of a Palestinian state, and the U.S. vote will be against that, one of the few votes in the world.
So I don't think you can say that this president is turning his back on Israel. But Israel is nervous because of the Arab spring, and the relationship with Israel -- with Egypt isn't as secure as it once was. So they're lashing out.
And the Republican candidate there managed to turn this into a backlash against President Obama. And the Jewish community there is, as Pat said, you know, very conservative. And there's also some economic anxiety. And so the White House and Democrats have lots of excuses. That seat is going to go away. It's going to be reapportioned. They didn't take it seriously. It's quirky. But nonetheless, it's a warning for what lies ahead.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the U.N. will declare Palestine to be a state.
MS. CLIFT: If it comes to --
MR. BUCHANAN: No --
MS. CLIFT: -- a vote, most likely.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- an observer state in the general assembly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: An observer state.
MR. BUCHANAN: Not a member state.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But still a state.
MR. BUCHANAN: Not a member state.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Observer state means there's a state there --
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- like the Vatican state is a state, observer.
James, what's your take on the ninth district in New York, the Turner win?
JAMES PETHOKOUKIS: Right. Listen, I think Israel was important, but I think Eleanor's right. There was an economic component to this. The economy's bad everywhere. Remember, the Republicans also won in Nevada. And of that eight-point victory, I would say a good chunk of that is because of this terrible weak economy, where 80 percent of Americans think the economy is going off track, over a cliff. So I think that played a huge role, in addition to Israel.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mentioned Nevada. The GOP contender, Mark Amodei, beat Democrat Kate Marshall, 58 to 36 percent, by 22 percent, Pat. That makes the same point.
LIZ MARLANTES: Yeah. And Karl Rove actually had an editorial this week where he argued that that was the race that Democrats should be more worried about, because there were just a bunch of kind of weird local specific issues in the New York race that made that kind of a unique situation.
But the Nevada race, that was a district that barely went to John McCain last time around, that the Democrats really hoped would be competitive. And they were running a candidate that they thought was a really good candidate who was kind of running the Medicare playbook that had worked so well for them earlier, and it just didn't pan out for them at all.
MR. PETHOKOUKIS: And that, along with Ohio, are really two great bellwethers right now.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. PETHOKOUKIS: We talk a lot about Ohio, but it's really Nevada too, if you look at that population. It ends up being a nice microcosm of the United States. And if Democrats get killed there, they're going to get killed everywhere.
MR. BUCHANAN: And Nevada was one of those states that went for Obama; that's right. The district was a dead-even thing. I think Obama lost it by 80 votes. But he lost it by 22 points this time, John. What it means is Nevada is gone for Obama -- gone.
MS. CLIFT: I don't -- I think it's too early to say Nevada is gone. But that particular district, while Obama came close to winning it, when's the last time a Democrat had that district? It's really a traditionally Republican district. So, you know, I --
MR. BUCHANAN: Twenty-two points is awful big.
MS. CLIFT: Well, yeah. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that had anything to do with --
MS. CLIFT: A win is a win. A loss is a loss.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Ryan's plan, the Republicans' plan -- you remember Ryan --
MR. BUCHANAN: Ryan's plan.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to voucherize, what, Medicare?
MR. BUCHANAN: Medicare.
MR. PETHOKOUKIS: Premium support system. It's like a voucher. It's not really a voucher.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that -- you know, Nevada has an older population.
MR. BUCHANAN: That didn't work.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?
MR. BUCHANAN: That didn't work.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's what I mean.
MR. BUCHANAN: "Mediscare" did not work.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, it did not work.
MR. BUCHANAN: No. The economy -- as Peter said, the economy is taking these guys down everywhere.
MS. CLIFT: You're going to hear --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wasn't there a lot of "Mediscare" advertising going on there in these races?
MR. PETHOKOUKIS: They tried it in New York and it didn't work.
MS. CLIFT: Look, it's not the silver bullet, but you're going to hear more about it, especially as the Republicans talk more about cutting entitlements. You know, people over 65 vote in great numbers. That's still a very potent issue.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Has President Obama lost the Jewish vote nationally? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: The president won the Jewish vote by 57 points the last time out, in 2008. He will win it by about 33 this time. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're talking about --
MR. BUCHANAN: It will be much closer. And he could lose Florida, because I think Broward, Dade, Palm Beach County are going to be going the other way when Ed Koch is down there endorsing Mitt Romney; maybe not Rick Perry. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that surprising, that Florida would go that way?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, see, the Jewish vote is very important in Florida --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know it is.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- which is a tight swing state. And it's right over there on the Atlantic Coast.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, the Jewish vote is important. Also Medicare is important. So -- and the question is, is the president going to lose the Jewish vote? That's a resounding no. But he's facing erosion in all his constituent support.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you agree with Eleanor on that?
MR. PETHOKOUKIS: I think it is eroding. I think Pat's right. The action's not going to be in New York. It's going to be in Florida, which really could be, again, one of the key states. Remember, despite all the "Mediscare" and Social Security, Marco Rubio did just fine down there.
MS. MARLANTES: Yeah, but when you talk to pollsters who are looking at that New York race specifically, yes, support for Obama tanked among Jewish voters, but it tanked during the month of August. And really the only thing that had happened previous to that, other than Ed Koch getting into the race and bringing up Israel, but the larger picture, it really, I think, was probably a reaction to the debt-ceiling debacle, all of the bad economic news, I mean, in the same way that Obama's support really has been dropping even among other Democratic constituencies.
You talk to pollsters and they say, you know, what happened with the Jewish vote in that New York district is more along the lines of what has just been happening nationally. It's not necessarily hinging on Israel.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is the Jewish vote stays Democratic.
Issue Two: Take Your Best Shot.
REPRESENTATIVE AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MICHELE BACHMANN (R- MN): (From videotape.) The drug company gave thousands of dollars in political donations to the governor, and this is just flat-out wrong. The question is, is it about life or was it about millions of dollars and potentially billions for a drug company?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Republican presidential candidate and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann came out swinging at fellow candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Bachmann, during a GOP presidential debate on Monday, criticized the Texas governor for issuing a 2007 executive order requiring sixth- grade girls to be vaccinated for the sexually transmitted disease called human papilloma virus, HPV, which has been linked to cervical cancer in women and penile cancer in men.
Bachmann accused Perry of issuing the executive order as a kickback to the pharmaceutical company that produced the vaccine, Merck. Bachmann one day later talked about a conversation she had with a mother whose daughter was vaccinated by the anti-HPV vaccine.
REP. BACHMANN: (From videotape.) She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter. It can have very dangerous side effects.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Medical correspondent and M.D. Nancy Snyderman checked out the Merck medication.
NANCY SNYDERMAN, M.D. (NBC News chief medical editor): (From videotape.) The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the CDC all weighed in today, disagreeing with Michele Bachmann's view, saying that over 35 million doses of the HPV vaccine have been given, with a tremendously good safety record.
The reason that's important to know is that over 6 million young men and women will be infected with the HPV virus this year, and over 4,000 women will die of cervical cancer. It's important to remember that this is an anti-cancer vaccine. And the reason it's given to 11- and 12-year olds is that that's when the human body produces the best immune response that will then protect kids later when they become sexually active. You want this on board. And, in fact, it has been proven so successful that there is now a call to vaccinate young boys too.
So from a safety track record, from an efficacy track record, and, frankly, from a lot of different medical records today, a lot of august bodies, they've all said this is a very good and safe vaccine.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Did Bachmann get off message when she strayed into the question of HPV vaccine's safety record? MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And does this completely clear Perry from any charges against him? Doesn't Perry now look good?
MS. CLIFT: Well, she should have left it at crony capitalism, tying this mandatory injection to contributions he's gotten from Merck, where his former chief of staff is the lobbyist. She should have left it at that. Venturing into the health area -- I commend you for running Nancy Snyderman's comments in full, because this is a health issue. And Governor Perry should be commended for his efforts -- I guess it failed, but his efforts to try to, you know, get this into the population.
And you do have Art Kaplan, who is a noted ethicist, pledging to donate $10,000, I think it is, to the Bachmann campaign or something if she can produce this woman or some evidence to back up the claim that she made, which she cannot. And it was tapping into the fear that people have --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was this --
MS. CLIFT: -- about autism injections.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was this dirty politics?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, but it was rough. She was very tough and went after him. I think she --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you -- what impact is this going to have on Bachmann's candidacy?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, on Bachmann's candidacy, she wants to revive her candidacy, and she's getting in this battle with Perry. But Perry's been bled a little bit, John, because this looks like, to the Christian community, what's he doing, you know, trumping the rights of parents and things?
What he should have done here was first take it to the legislature; and, frankly, secondly, tell parents you've got to get your permission before we do it, and he would be just fine --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, Pat --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- because I think overall it's a good program.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- there is --
MR. BUCHANAN: But you've got to give parents the ability to say no.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is in the statute, I guess it is, there is an opt-out provision. MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't have to have it done.
MR. BUCHANAN: But he should --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But he wants to bring the full weight of the government behind the idea of having --
MR. BUCHANAN: They should have had an opt-in.
MR. PETHOKOUKIS: Right. It should have been an opt-in provision.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think you need an opt-in.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, you do. I think you don't do anything to kids like that --
MR. PETHOKOUKIS: That's right.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- unless the parents --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, why put it in if it's going to be opt-in?
MS. CLIFT: Because --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's redundant.
MS. CLIFT: Too many parents --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're in. You're in.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's available.
MR. PETHOKOUKIS: You make it available, and that's why the issue will continue -- remember, the audience here was Iowa. He needs to win Iowa.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's not bringing the strength of the government behind the view that this is going to prevent a lot of sickness.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you know, I'm in favor of the government saying this is a terrific program. What you did on Snyderman is excellent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want my government to go a little bit further than that. I want my government to say what is the collective view of this government and the legislature. As he said afterwards, I made a mistake; I shouldn't have done it, but the legislature should have done it. You can -- MR. BUCHANAN: He shouldn't have done it by executive order.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Under statute, you can cause people to be vaccinated --
MR. BUCHANAN: But he shouldn't have done it like a dictator. He should have gone to the legislature.
MS. CLIFT: Well, he couldn't get it through the legislature, probably, which is why he did it the way he did it. And we know from experience on an issue like this, if you have an opt-in, too many parents do not avail themselves of it because they're busy. And so --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Elizabeth. Let Liz in.
MS. MARLANTES: I was just going to say, you know, that the irony of all this was that Bachmann's attack at the debate was actually the most effective attack, I thought, launched at Perry that night. And she did completely step all over whatever momentum she might have gained from that, because the crony capitalism issue is real and it's something that Perry is vulnerable on. I think people who were watching Perry --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean Merck?
MS. MARLANTES: Yes; you know, the fact that Perry -- nobody thinks that Perry would have issued that executive order if his former chief of staff --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --
MS. MARLANTES: -- hadn't been a lobbyist for Merck. Nobody thinks that would have happened.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think lobbying is a new phenomenon?
MS. MARLANTES: No. And it absolutely -- nobody is even suggesting that something, you know, criminal or, you know, even -- that it in any way isn't just the way business happens. But that is not the image that Perry wants to project in this race. That's not an image that's going to endear him to voters right now --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's going to carry --
MS. MARLANTES: -- who are just sick of politics --
(Cross talk.) MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. What's going to be the bigger of the two emphases out of this race, that Perry was right in saying what he said about the chemical, or that she was -- or that Merck should not -- he should have no --
MS. MARLANTES: I think she took --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- (inaudible) -- with Merck?
MS. MARLANTES: I think she took the winds out of that attack by taking it that far.
MR. BUCHANAN: But he's been hurt.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's been hurt?
MR. BUCHANAN: He's been hurt to a degree by this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pharmaceutical companies are supposed to go to doctors and say, this is what I have available. They do that routinely.
MS. MARLANTES: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They try to sell the doctors on the merits of their heavily costed research.
MS. MARLANTES: Right. But again --
MS. CLIFT: Sometimes lobbyists are right. And if Perry was convinced by this lobbyist, who happened to be his chief of staff, it still was the right decision to go forward.
MR. BUCHANAN: But you can see from the way Perry handled himself --
MS. CLIFT: He said he would have done it differently.
MR. BUCHANAN: You can see from the way Perry handled himself that he was stunned by this.
MS. CLIFT: He --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three.
MR. BUCHANAN: He was put on the defensive.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Solyndra Kaput.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was May 2010, 16 months ago. President Obama visited Solyndra, a green-energy California-based company that makes solar panels. The panels convert the sun's races into electricity. The president paid a visit to Solyndra to show that green is not only good, but green brings in the green. It's profitable for the government.
The president was so proud of Solyndra that he guaranteed a loan of more than half a billion dollars -- $535 million for Solyndra. But last week Solyndra folded -- bankruptcy -- but only after Solyndra spent $519 million of its $535 million federal loan money. Analysts point out that Solyndra was suspect from the start and should have never been subsidized by the president's budget.
A specialty analyst in solar energy named Peter Lynch says this about Solyndra's business model. Quote: "It was an insane business model. The numbers just don't work, and they never did."
Question: Did the White House vet the loan for Solyndra? Is this a serious political black eye? James Pethokoukis.
MR. PETHOKOUKIS: I think it is. Remember, people, they look back at that original $800 billion stimulus and it kind of looks like it didn't create very many jobs. And people are like, how can we spend all that money and not create jobs? Why? Because a lot of it was going to companies like Solyndra, which are on very shaky footing. And even with the half a billion dollars, they still went belly up, just as many people predicted, by September of 2011, that all this energy subsidy, which has been about $60 billion, has only created a few thousand jobs.
Why hasn't the stimulus created jobs? Now we know why.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, they didn't do due diligence on this thing. They rushed it through for political reasons. The phrase crony capitalism, that's exactly what this is. And this is a real black eye, frankly, for the green movement. What was it Eric Hoffer said? Every great cause eventually becomes a business and then degenerates into a racket.
MS. CLIFT: Well, they blew it on this one, clearly. But I think the vetting was done at the bureaucratic level by career people. And the White House was pushing because they wanted to get this photo-op, which was a mistake. But I don't think there -- I don't think there's any twisting of requirements or anything like that. Some loan guarantees are risky. This one failed.
MR. BUCHANAN: But half a billion dollars.
MS. CLIFT: The bigger problem for -- excuse me. The bigger problem --
MR. PETHOKOUKIS: They're always risky. MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. The bigger problem is what you cite, and that is, it gives more fodder to the Republican criticism. You spent all this money and you haven't created any jobs, or not enough jobs.
MS. MARLANTES: Right. And along those lines, I think the bigger problem, there was all this attention paid to the fact that they wanted this photo-op with Biden, and so they were kind of urging them along to try to make the loan approval.
But I think the bigger problem is the larger pressure, actually, to create jobs, you know, was probably something that was more of a factor in the sense that, you know, they had this money going through and they wanted to see jobs created fast.
MS. CLIFT: Green jobs --
MS. MARLANTES: That's a factor in all of these --
MS. CLIFT: Green jobs have been oversold, but it's still the right thing to do. It's a huge global industry, clean energy in the future. And if we want to get --
MR. BUCHANAN: Well --
MS. CLIFT: If we want to be leaders in that industry, you've got to start somewhere.
MR. PETHOKOUKIS: The only way those companies would work is if Obama would have got his way and got this huge cap-and-trade program to raise the cost. Without that, economics of these firms doesn't work. And it didn't work with Solyndra. It's not working for a lot of these other ones.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The rap has to rest on the Office of Management and Budget, the fabulous OMB, which is the most powerful part of the White House structure. And it's more powerful than a regulatory agency. They were told to rush it. They were saying, we have to do due diligence on this.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And they were told to rush it because Obama loves green energy. He's going to be there. He's going to give a talk. And he wants to make sure that --
MR. BUCHANAN: Right. It's going to look like --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Instead of that, it is totally -- MR. BUCHANAN: Well, it's going to look like political pressure to get the photo-op for Biden --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- get the jobs out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: And they overdid it. And now you've got a scandal. John, half a billion dollars is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Half a billion.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- an enormous loss of money.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Half a billion.
MS. CLIFT: Well, it's not as much political pressure as a former White House exerted in order to be able to go in Iraq.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: Tough Love.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) I sent Congress the American Jobs Act. This is it right here. It's pretty thick. This is a plan that does two things. It puts people back to work and it puts more money in the pockets of working Americans.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama took his jobs plan this week to two states, Ohio and North Carolina. The tab on Obama jobs is $447 billion. That's "b," as in "boy," billion. Ohio has an unemployment rate today of 9 percent. North Carolina has an unemployment rate today of 10.1 percent. Both Ohio and North Carolina are key Democratic primary states. On the national scene, the president's approval rating now stands at 40 percent positive, 52 percent negative, practically the same as Ohio and North Carolina.
Democratic Party veteran strategist Robert Zimmerman sees danger ahead. Quote: "The alarms have already gone off in the Democratic grassroots. If the Obama administration hasn't heard them, they should check the wiring of their alarm system," unquote.
In the West, the influential 13-term Oregon Democratic congressman, Peter DeFazio, echoes the Northeast, the Southeast and central U.S. Quote: "In my district, the enthusiasm for him has mostly evaporated. There is tremendous discontent with his direction," unquote.
Another prominent Democrat agrees.
REPRESENTATIVE DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH): (From videotape.) Should President Obama have a challenge? I say he should. I think it would make him a better president if he received a Democratic -- a challenge in a Democratic primary. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: The call for a presidential primary, is that now the common view of the graybeards or the influentials in the Democratic Party? Liz.
MS. MARLANTES: Not unless they want him to lose. I mean, I think we'd be getting into Jimmy Carter territory at that point, and that is not where Obama wants to be.
There's no question that he is in trouble right now. However, as his campaign has pointed out, he still is winning in head-to-head matchups against every single Republican candidate out there, outside of the margin of error. And in a way, when you look at all the economic data, everything that's been going on, it's actually remarkable that he's doing as well as he is. And so I think, you know, although Democrats are starting to panic in certain circles, Obama still has some cards left to play.
MS. CLIFT: Well, the panic is predictable, because it's 9.1 percent unemployment, and the president clearly is vulnerable. That was Dennis Kucinich whose picture you put up. He did run the last two cycles, and he's not going to enter the primary. Any Democrat who waged a primary fight against this president at this point would be charged with exactly what you're --
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: -- saying, that they would be undermining his chances for re-election. So forget a primary challenge. It's not going to happen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does Kucinich have nine lives? He did run for the U.S. presidency in the last two --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. He's not doing it this time. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- presidential elections. He's not doing it this time.
MR. BUCHANAN: Kucinich --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Furthermore, he has to move out of where he is. Am I correct on that?
MR. BUCHANAN: He's moved --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's going to the state of Washington?
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, he's dropped that. He's been moved into a district with Marcy Kaptur. MR. PETHOKOUKIS: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's that Lake Erie district. And it's going to be very tough for Dennis Kucinich to win that, because she is a hugely popular populist conservative Democrat.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the group opinion on Kucinich?
MR. BUCHANAN: I like Kucinich personally. I think he's a principled guy. I've liked him ever since he was a young mayor.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's --
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) He was a radical mayor.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's an iconoclast?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I think he's a man of the left, but he's a principled man of the left.
MS. CLIFT: I like him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He calls the shots as he sees them.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. I like him too. He's a friend.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Palestinians will force President Obama to veto their membership in the United Nations in the Security Council, and then they will go to the general assembly, where they will get observer status with about 150-plus votes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Senate race next year between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown will be the marquee race. And each side will turn out their base. But the fight will be over moderates and independents and which of them can talk the talk for that middle-of-the-road voter on economic issues.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're talking Massachusetts.
MS. CLIFT: Massachusetts; a lot of middle-class voters, a lot of Irish Catholics. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. PETHOKOUKIS: A European financial crisis, kicked off by a Greek debt default, will push the U.S. back into recession.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Liz.
MS. MARLANTES: The president's jobs bill is never brought up for a vote in the House.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Peter King, Republican congressman from New York, will announce that he will run for the U.S. Senate in 2012.