Iraq, The Vote: 'Whoever Is Advising Him Made a Terrible Mistake'

J$P Instant Transcript! Bob Beckel and Paul Manafort on Weekend Live.

From Weekend Live, January 30 2005:

BRIAN WILSON [FOX NEWS]: Joining me to talk about the political fallout here at home is Democratic strategist Bob Beckel, and Republican strategist Paul Manafort. All right Bob, what do you think?

BOB BECKEL: Well I think first of all it was magnificent--whoever was in charge of security in this whole thing deserves a medal, as a friend of mine said to me earlier before the show. But the other thing is, from a Democratic standpoint, for those of us who are opposed to this war, this could not have been a better outcome. Which is why I do not get John Kerry coming out and--

WILSON: You beat me to the question.

BECKEL: Well, go ahead, ask the question.

WILSON: Well the question was, I saw John Kerry saying, well OK, it was OK--but. He had all these things that needed to happen still.

BECKEL: Yeah, this is no time for "buts". I mean, whoever is advising him politically made a terrible mistake. I think what he should have said was this is a magnificent outcome, and now that we've had this and we've got an elected government, let's begin the process of bringing out troops back home. And I don't get why any Democrat would want to dump on this election when, in fact, it is the beginning, hopefully, of the end. So I don't get the politics of it.

WILSON: All right, Paul, what do you think?

PAUL MANAFORT: Bob has very simply categorized it. I mean, today was a great day for Iraqi democracy. An election that Kerry and the Democratic leadership as recently as last week was saying it would never happen in an efficient smooth way, did. It looks as if the turnout is going to be a levels that are more than credible. And why they would criticize it today as Kerry did, and some media types have as well, they just can't recognize the fact that the Bush policy is working in Iraq.

WILSON: We're going to hear from the President in just a few moments. What do you expect that he might say?

MANAFORT: I think he's going to be pleased that the people of Iraq had the opportunity to express themselves. And I think that he's going to celebrate freedom, because that's what happened today in Iraq. It was a celebration of freedom and democracy.

BECKEL: What he'd better do is give some indication this war is going to start winding down. Look at the Fox News poll. 47% of the people in this country, now after this election is over, want us to begin withdrawing immediately. 46% say stay for stability. This is a split country. It was last year in the election; it is still today about this war. And if I were George Bush I would give some indication that you see some light at the end of the tunnel. We've heard that line before.

MANAFORT: But I think that's where the Democrats are going. I'm not surprised to hear you say that, Bob, because the reality is, this is a process we're involved in right now. Today was a step in that process. Now there's going to be a constitutional convention, and then there's going to be an election that will elect the government in December, and I think Bush is going to say we're involved in the process, and we're going to continue to support the process.

WILSON: We're going to hear from the President in a few moments. We're also going to hear from him on Wednesday, as he goes to Capitol Hill for the annual State of the Union address. It comes at a time, Bob, when many Democrats, including Ted Kennedy, have really started to turn up the rhetoric about the war in Iraq and the US involvement therein. Does this kind of put the kibosh on some of that talk?

BECKEL: Well I certainly would hope so, because there's plenty to say domestically. This time George Bush has got to not just talk about social security, he's got to lay out some specifics, which he's done a brilliant job of avoiding. He's got to put down specifics about caps on--

WILSON: Well as soon as you put down specifics you start to--

BECKEL: Well, I mean at some point how much of a free ride are you going to give him? All he's said is, now I've got a mandate. OK, you got a mandate. What is it for? And I think the Democrats were getting off the sidetrack of Iraq, particularly in the background of this election. Let's get focused on what they're trying to do, which is steal the twin pillars of the Democratic Party, as was said in the Washington Post this morning. We cannot afford to let him get an edge on social security, and he doesn't deserve to get it.


MANAFORT: George Bush has been very clear, through the campaign, through the transition to the second term, and now in the beginning of the second term, of what he wants to do. Tax reform, social security reform, immigration reform, and bringing democracy to Iraq. The State of the Union is going to deal with the broad brushes of those messages, and over the next month he'll be laying those programs out, working with the Congress, and talking to the American people.

BECKEL: About as clear as that sky out there. Are you kidding me? Clear? He wasn't clear. He threw out these general big themes, now the guy's got to get specific, and I want to see the specifics. And, by the way, the cost. Because once again we're going to see ourselves go another trillion dollars in debt, at the hands of the Republican controlled Congress.

MANAFORT: He's been very clear about what he's going to be talking about. In fact, the deficit's coming down if you just look at those numbers, Bob.


WILSON: All right, we're going to leave it right there, gentlemen. Thank you very much. Good discussion, and glad to have you both with us today.

posted: Sun - January 30, 2005 at 01:20 PM       j$p  send