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updated 7/15/2007 2:05:11 PM ET 2007-07-15T18:05:11

MR. TIM RUSSERT:  Our issues this Sunday:  The president digs in on Iraq.

(Videotape)

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH:  I don’t think Congress ought to be running the war. I think they ought to be funding our troops.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  Passionate words in the Senate from a Democrat.

(Videotape)

SEN. JIM WEBB (D-VA):  This deck of cards is coming crashing down, and it’s landing heavily on the heads of the soldiers and the Marines who have been deployed again and again.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  And the Republicans.

(Videotape)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  I believe we can destroy al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the surge has made that possible.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  Democrat Jim Webb of Virginia, Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina square off on Iraq.

Then, insights and analysis from two veteran political strategists, Republican Mike Murphy and Democrat Bob Shrum, and two veteran political reporters, Al Hunt of Bloomberg News and Robert Novak of the Chicago Sun-Times and author of “The Prince of Darkness:  50 Years Reporting in Washington.”

But first, Iraq.  And with us are two key members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Democratic Senator Jim Webb and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who just returned last week from a trip to Iraq.

Gentlemen, welcome both.  Let me begin by showing, one more time, the president’s comments on Thursday at his news conference.  Let’s watch.

(Videotape, Thursday)

PRES. BUSH:  I don’t think Congress ought to be running the war.  I think they ought to be funding our troops.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  Senator Webb, are you trying to run the war?

SEN. WEBB:  No, I don’t think that there is a war, to start off with.  I think that this has been a botched occupation.  It’s been going on for four years after the purely military part of it was done.  This administration has failed in terms of bringing the right diplomatic formula to the table. We—all of the things that people like myself were predicting would happen if we went into Iraq are the—exactly the sorts of things that the president and the small group of people who have sort of rallied around him are saying will happen if we leave.  We were saying that Iran would be empowered, we were saying that international terrorism would be empowered, we were saying that the reputation of the United States would be diminished around the world, and we were saying the region would become more unstable.  So we’ve reached the point, and I see, with what Senator Warner and Senator Lugar have introduced, that there’s a good, strong feeling among the Republicans as well, we’ve reached the point where we have to come together as a Congress and attempt to bring some order into this.

MR. RUSSERT:  Are you trying to wrest control of the war from the President, in effect, along with the Republicans?

SEN. WEBB:  No.  I, I think that any administrative discretion, any executive power, has its limits.  And the Congress has the authority, not only to appropriate, but to put conditions on, for instance, how our troops are being used.  You can go back, for instance, on the—if you want to look at the amendment that I offered, which Senator Graham and other opposed even though we got 56 votes, the, the provision goes back to something that the Congress did when Harry Truman was president when they were sending troops to Korea who had not been trained and the Congress stepped in and said you can’t send anybody overseas until they’ve been in the military for 120 days.  We’re trying to do this on the other end.  Four years into a war you have to be able to put some rational limits on how our troops are being used.  We’ve got soldiers and Marines right now who are spending more time in Iraq than they are in the states, and the executive branch isn’t speaking up.  The Congress has the constitutional power to do so, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

MR. RUSSERT:  I’m going to get to your amendment in just a second.

But I want to ask Senator Graham, Senator Lugar, Senator Warner have stepped forward and said we should have another vote, in effect, another reauthorization of this war.  And secondly, as early as January of ‘08, perhaps have a redeployment of troops in Iraq.  Do you support Senator Lugar and Senator Warner?

SEN. GRAHAM:  No.  I respect them very much, and I believe their idea is for the president to come up with a plan B.  They said, “The surge is not working. In October, tell us about how you would redeploy troops with a different mission.” You know, control al-Qaeda.  They say nothing about the Iranian influence.  It basically takes us back to the old strategy.  And the one thing I’ve done on this program and others is declare the old strategy of fighting behind walls and training as being ineffective.  The new strategy of getting more combat power where al-Qaeda and others reside, I think has been enormously successful.  But as to whether it’s a war or an occupation, in my view this is very much part of a global struggle.  Al-Qaeda has come to Iraq. Bin Laden has said this is the equivalent to the third world war.  Baghdad’s going to be the center of the caliphy—caliphate.  We have just passed unanimously, in a resolution, saying that we’re in a proxy war with Iran.  So what’s going on in Iraq is not about us wanting to own Iraq; it’s about us supporting a form of moderation not known to the Mideast.  Why does al-Qaeda come?  They come to destroy this infant democracy.  That’s, that’s part of their agenda is to fight moderation where it exists.  Why does Iran kill Americans?  Why are they trying to drive us out?  Because their biggest nightmare is a functioning democracy on their border.  So this is very much a gigantic struggle between moderation and extremists.  And those who want to withdraw or have operational control reside in the Senate, I think you’re making a mistake for the ages.

MR. RUSSERT:  Let me turn specifically to Senator Webb’s amendment, and this is how it’s described.  “The [Webb] amendment said any armed services member deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan would have the same amount of time at home that they serve overseas before being redeployed.  It also required that no troops, including those in reserve and National Guard units, could be redeployed to Iraq or Afghanistan within three years of their previous deployment.” An attempt to reduce the strain, obviously, on military families.

When Congressman Murtha of Pennsylvania introduced similar legislation in the House, it was described as a slow bleed, an attempt, in effect, to micromanage the war and bring the war to an end by limiting the number of troops that were available.  Was that your intent?

SEN. WEBB:  No.  Congressman Murtha’s provision had a lot of restraints on it, and I think you could argue that it was micromanagement.  They had equipment restraints on it, they had unit readiness indicators on it.  And, and let me say, I used to do this for a living.  I did this for three years when I was assistant secretary of defense.  I had the first 120 days of war, how you, how you lay out the transition from, from peacetime to wartime, how you merge the Reserves in with the Guard, etc.  And what I did was I tried to take the one unassailable fact here, and that is that four years into this environment we’re—we’ve been experimenting with one different operational requirement vs.  another.  I was going to say strategy, but this is not strategy.  And at a minimum we have to be able to say that if you’re going to do this, if you, if you want to stay in Iraq for five, 10 more years like Senator Graham does, or if you want to get out within a couple of months like Congressman Murtha does, we have to put some restraints on how our troops are being used.

And, by the way, I, I want to just respond really quickly to a couple of things that Senator Graham said.  You know, he says, al-Qaeda has come to Iraq.  That is true.  There is no greater recruiting tool for Iraq—for, for al-Qaeda than the United States being in Iraq.  Al-Qaeda was not operating in Iraq before we got there.  And, you know, this resolution that we supposedly passed, where we were saying we’re in a proxy war with Iran, that was some whereas clause way up, when we basically said that the ambassador to Iraq has to tell us whether Iran is tactically involved.  It’s pretty noteworthy to point out that, in terms of Iraq, more than half of the extremists in the Sunni areas are Saudis.  So what we’re seeing in Iraq is the countries that have historical ties with these different ethnic groups are, in fact, involved, but that is not the same thing as saying we’re in a proxy war with Iran.

MR. RUSSERT:  Senator Graham, you said this about Congress—Senator Webb’s amendment:  “It would have been a nightmare for the ages if Congress had passed the Webb amendment and it became law, because you’d have deployment by polls.” The Army missed its recruiting goals in June.  Seventy-two percent of the soldiers in Iraq are members of the U.S. Army.  Is the Army being broken by this war, and why not give these Army members and their families a year off after being deployed for a year?

SEN. GRAHAM:  Worst thing I think we could do in this war or any other war is start micromanaging deployment of forces by the Congress.  The operational control of the war residing in the Senate or the House would be a nightmare. Politicians are worried about the next election.  Commanders need troops based on what happens on the ground.  So I think any idea that basically allows senators and congressman to start commanding troops should, should fail and will fail.

As far as the stress of the military, it has been an enormously difficult war. And I was in Baghdad on July the Fourth of this year.  We had the highest re-enlistment—the largest re-enlistment ceremony in a wartime environment known to our country.  The one thing I can tell you about our troops, they are doing things we’ve never done before, because there’s more of them.  The surge is producing results.  The biggest result from these brave men and women’s new effort is that the Sunnis who’ve tasted al-Qaeda’s life in the Sunni part of Iraq, Anbar province—when he was running for the Senate, it was declared lost.  Well, it has, it has been recaptured.  And the people living in Anbar have chosen to align themselves with us, because al-Qaeda overplayed their hand.  The military is not the problem.  The military will do what they’re capable of doing only if we stand behind them.  The problem is trying to politicize this war, have decisions made in Congress that affect military operations.  I will not vote for anything until generous—General Petraeus passes on it.  No senator, no congressman—no matter how much I respect you—you’re not going to be able, in my opinion, to give the advice that General Petraeus can give, and I’m going to wait till he comes back and listen to his advice and not some politician.

MR. RUSSERT:  But you also identified another problem.  Here’s Lindsey Graham on Tuesday:  “The current political leadership in Iraq is paralyzed.  They’re incapable, in my opinion, of making the hard decisions they need to make.  You need a change in people,” a “change in attitude.”

SEN. WEBB:  Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT:  The director of the CIA is quoted in The Washington Post as saying in November, “The government in Iraq is unable to govern.” If, in fact, the Iraqi government, after four and a half years, is not capable of governing, is paralyzed, why are we asking American men and women to go over there and continue to fight for them?

SEN. GRAHAM:  Because it’s in our national security interest to make sure that al-Qaeda does not have a safe haven.  Lee Hamilton and...

MR. RUSSERT:  But you keep mentioning al-Qaeda.  Let me go back to the director of the CIA.

SEN. GRAHAM:  Yes.

MR. RUSSERT:  This is Michael Hayden, again from The Post.  “Michael Hayden catalogued what he saw as the main sources of violence in this order:  the insurgency, sectarian strife, criminality, general anarchy and, lastly, al-Qaeda.  Though Hayden had listed al-Qaeda as the fifth most pressing threat in Iraq, President Bush regularly listed al-Qaeda as first.”

SEN. GRAHAM:  So did General Petraeus.  General Petraeus says the number one enemy of America is al-Qaeda in Iraq, and Lee Hamilton in December said that our chief national security interest, in a sense, is al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Let me tell you why we have to beat al-Qaeda in Iraq before anything else falls into place.  Number one, they’re an extremist group that have come to this country, Iraq, to destroy this effort at democracy.  And they were able to thrive under the old strategy.  They were able to occupy a territory in Anbar province.  On this show in September last year, everyone said Anbar has—is gone.  What did Petraeus do?  He said, “Give me more troops, and I’m going to get out behind these walls, I’m going to live with the Iraqi army and police forces, and I’m going to try to align myself with people who reject al-Qaeda.” And it is working.  I went to Ramadi on the Fourth of July, the 5th of July, I could not do that before.  So the surge is al-Qaeda’s worst nightmare.  They have been diminished.  The biggest success of the surge is not that we militarily pushed al-Qaeda out of Anbar, it’s that the people who lived in Anbar have rejected al-Qaeda and aligned themselves with us.

As to the central government, there is political...

SEN. WEBB:  Can I say—respond to this?  You’ve said the same thing three times.

SEN. GRAHAM:  Wait, can I just finish my thought?

MR. RUSSERT:  Yes.

SEN. GRAHAM:  The political reconciliation that has led to Anbar—to al-Qaeda being on the run, local people aligning themselves with coalition forces is producing results.  But the central government in Baghdad is not performing the way we should.  But what I would like to see happen is to allow Petraeus to keep doing what he’s doing, keep the militia and the insurgents and al-Qaeda on the run and push the Maliki government hard.  Retreating and withdrawing and allowing al-Qaeda reform and to kill all the moderates that helped them is not the solution.

MR. RUSSERT:  One last point before I bring in Senator Webb.  Prime Minister Maliki said yesterday that the—if the American forces leave...

SEN. GRAHAM:  Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT:  Quote, “Iraqi forces can sear—secure their country—can secure their country at any time.” He’s basically saying, “You can leave and we’re just fine.”

SEN. GRAHAM:  To be honest with you, I think the—General Petraeus will tell us about that scenario.  And I do believe, in a matter of months, we can turn over most of Anbar.  Because the big thing...

MR. RUSSERT:  No, no, but the prime minister of Iraq is saying that he can secure his country at any time.  If he’s saying that, then why are we there?

SEN. GRAHAM:  Because our national security interests are also involved, and I would like to hear from our generals as to whether or not if we leave now that we’re going to come back with a bigger war.  If Iraq fails, if this...

MR. RUSSERT:  But if Iraq is a sovereign country...

SEN. GRAHAM:  Yes, sir.

MR. RUSSERT:  ...and this is a sovereign-elected prime minister, and he’s saying he can secure his own country, why would—why do we reject that, that notion?

SEN. GRAHAM:  It is my belief that he’s not asking us to leave, he’s making a statement of confidence in his troops.  I would like our general to make a statement in terms of his view of how stable it would be if we left right now, and that comes in September.

MR. RUSSERT:  Senator Webb, do you believe al-Qaeda is the primary enemy in Iraq and threat in Iraq?  And do you believe if U.S. troops, in fact, withdrew from Iraq we would leave behind a bloodbath and genocide?

SEN. WEBB:  I think they’re going to have problems in Iraq whenever we leave. They have had problems in Iraq for 2,000 years.  The question is the circumstances under which we leave, and that’s what we have to work on.  And that’s what the people who’ve basically circled their wagons around this administration, rather than moving toward the future like, like, for instance, Senator Warner and Senator Lugar are trying to do, are missing the boat.  We have to get strong diplomatic efforts in place that are in consonance with what our military has been doing.

Let me just say a couple things about the points that Senator Graham was making.  OK?  First of all, with respect to my amendment, 56 senators voted for my amendment.  Senator Graham put an amendment in basically supporting the status quo, he got 41 votes.  So a majority of the Senate supports what we’re trying to do.  And with respect to the idea that any president, you know, would, would not accept this sort of congressional direction, as I said, we have in the past.  Presidents have in the past.  The best example being when President Truman had to take the recommendation or the requirement of the Congress that you have 120 days in the military before you go overseas.

And with respect to al-Qaeda, quite frankly, al-Qaeda didn’t come to Iraq to try to destroy a democracy.  That’s a very, very flimsy democracy there.  We all recognize that.  Al-Qaeda came to Iraq because the United States was in Iraq, and the people in al-Anbar are not aligning themselves with the United States.  It’s “The enemy of the enemy is my friend.” This hasn’t been the Iraqi military, the national military that’s been taking out al-Qaeda.  It’s been a redneck justice.  It’s been these sectarian groups out there who don’t like al-Qaeda.  And if we leave, they still will not like al-Qaeda.

So what we have to have is the proper sort of diplomatic energy, which is actually what the Iraq Study Group is proposing, along with what these military people have been doing.  And we got to give them a break.  This is where I—this is what I don’t understand, with Senator Graham, Senator Lieberman.  Senator Lieberman attacked me on a show on Monday.  You know, Senator Lieberman, every day, is calling for a war against Iran and probably Syria.  Maybe a, maybe a, maybe they can tell us where the, the line should be drawn.  Maybe, maybe the United States military, all of it, should go to the Middle East and stay all the time.  Somewhere in here there has to be a rational line that protects the well being of our troops.

MR. RUSSERT:  Before we go, what happens in September?

SEN. GRAHAM:  I think General Petraeus will determine what happens in September, but in July, we’re not going to let politicians deploy troops based on the polling of the moment.  And I think the biggest mistake we could make is misunderstanding our enemies.  Iran is killing Americans and trying to destabilize this government.

SEN. WEBB:  So are Saudis, Senator Graham.  So are Saudis, because that’s what the region is.

SEN. GRAHAM:  It’s because they fear a moderate form of government.  Al-Qaeda has come there to destroy moderation.  And if they win—we’ve got a chance to put them on the run, and God bless General Petraeus and these troops.  They’re doing things with this surge we could never do before, and it’s been al-Qaeda’s worst nightmare.  And the worst thing we could do as a country is when we’re close...

SEN. WEBB:  The worst nightmare of al-Qaeda is the Iraqis who’ve stood up to them.

SEN. GRAHAM:  ...when we’re close to getting it right is to withdraw because of the next election.  They didn’t...

MR. RUSSERT:  How long should the...

SEN. WEBB:  Hold on, Lindsey.

MR. RUSSERT:  How long should the surge last?

SEN. GRAHAM:  The surge is set—the—has been in place for two weeks, and we’ve done more in Anbar in last show was September.

SEN. WEBB:  We didn’t do that.  We didn’t do that in two weeks.

SEN. GRAHAM:  It’s been in place for two weeks...

SEN. WEBB:  We didn’t do that in two weeks.

SEN. GRAHAM:  ...and it’s made enormous progress in areas...

MR. RUSSERT:  But how long do you believe the surge will last?

SEN. GRAHAM:  When General Petraeus comes back, he will tell us these things. I want to leave.  No American wants to occupy Iraq.  But history will judge us, my friend, not when we left, but what we left behind.  Do we leave a resurgent al-Qaeda that will kill every moderate who helped us?  Do we empower Iran?  Do they control the south of Iraq?  Nobody ever asks the consequences, polls the consequences of this idea, just wash your hands of Iraq.

SEN. WEBB:  It’s been, it’s been a hard, it’s been a hard month Lindsey.  You need to calm down my friend.

SEN. GRAHAM:  I’m going to listen to this general, and I’m not going to let any politician take the place of the general.

MR. RUSSERT:  I’ll give you a chance to respond.

SEN. WEBB:  Lindsey’s had a hard month.  You know, these people who have, you know, gathered around...

SEN. GRAHAM:  I don’t know about Lindsey having a hard month.

SEN. WEBB:  ...gathered around the president, you know, on the immigration bill, on this bill.  I know it’s, I know it’s been tough.

SEN. GRAHAM:  It’s about the next 20 and 30 years.

SEN. WEBB:  We got to, we got to bring people together, and you know, get a diplomatic solution in place here that’s in consonance with this.  When the president announced the surge in January, he said that, by the end of this year, all of the provinces in Iraq would be under the control of Iraqis. That’s clearly not going to happen.  And the bottom line here is whether you want to stay for 10 years or whether you want to stay for six months...

SEN. GRAHAM:  I want to, I want to beat extremism.

SEN. WEBB:  Excuse me.  Excuse me, friend.  We need to find a formula that takes care of the well-being of our soldiers and our Marines.  And there is no...

SEN. GRAHAM:  That we can agree on.

SEN. WEBB:  There is no operational policy...

SEN. GRAHAM:  That we can agree on.

SEN. WEBB:  ...that justifies what we’ve been doing.  But the tradition...

MR. RUSSERT:  But do you...

SEN. WEBB:  The traditional operational policy has been if you’ve been gone for a year, you get two years back.  We’re now in a situation where the soldiers and the Marines are having less than a one to one ratio, and somebody needs to speak up for them rather than simply defending what this president’s been doing.

SEN. GRAHAM:  When they re-enlist in the highest numbers anywhere else in the military, they’re speaking...

SEN. WEBB:  You know, this is one thing I really—this is one thing I really take objection to...

SEN. GRAHAM:  ...the soldiers are speaking, my friend.  Let them win.

SEN. WEBB:  ...is politicians who—at the...

SEN. GRAHAM:  Let them win.

SEN. WEBB:  Politicians who—may I speak?

SEN. GRAHAM:  They want to win, let them win.

SEN. WEBB:  Is politicians who try to put their political views into the mouths of soldiers.  You can look at poll after poll, and the political views of the United States military are no different than the country at large.  Go take a look at The New York Times today.

SEN. GRAHAM:  The soldiers...

SEN. WEBB:  Less than half of the military believes that we should be in Iraq in the first place.

SEN. GRAHAM:  Have you been to Iraq?  Have you ever been and talked to them? I’ve been seven times.

SEN. WEBB:  You know, have you ever been to these—I’ve been—I’ve covered two wars as a correspondent...

SEN. GRAHAM:  Have you been to Iraq?

SEN. WEBB:  I have been to Afghanistan as a journalist.

SEN. GRAHAM:  Have you been to Iraq and—have you been to Iraq and talked to the soldiers?

SEN. WEBB:  You know, you haven’t been to Iraq.

SEN. GRAHAM:  I’ve been to—I’ve been there seven times.

SEN. WEBB:  You know, you go see the dog and pony shows.

SEN. GRAHAM:  I’ve been there as a reservist, I have been there and I’m going back in August.

SEN. WEBB:  That’s what congressmen do.  Yeah, I have, I have—I’ve been a member of the military when the senators come in.

SEN. GRAHAM:  Well, all—listen, something we can agree on, we both admire the men and women in uniform.  I don’t doubt your patriotism.

SEN. WEBB:  Don’t put political words in their mouth.

SEN. GRAHAM:  You know, my election...

SEN. WEBB:  You do it—you’ve been doing it ever since I’ve been in Congress.

SEN. GRAHAM:  I’m up for re-election.  Every Republican who’s supporting this position is doing it against the polls.

SEN. WEBB:  You know, you said on the floor, “Let them win.  They want it.”

SEN. GRAHAM:  This is not about my election, my friend...

SEN. WEBB:  They want it, my friend.

SEN. GRAHAM:  ...this is about the next generation.

SEN. WEBB:  No, you said on the floor this week, “Let them win.”

SEN. GRAHAM:  The troops are not the problem.  The troops can win.  I...

SEN. WEBB:  Thirty-five percent of the United States military agrees with the policy of this president.

SEN. GRAHAM:  Well, why do they keep...

SEN. WEBB:  By poll.  By poll.

SEN. GRAHAM:  ...re-enlisting?  Why do they go back?

SEN. WEBB:  Because they love their country.

SEN. GRAHAM:  That’s not the problem.  No, because...

SEN. WEBB:  Because they love their country, they do not do it for political reasons.

SEN. GRAHAM:  And they...

SEN. WEBB:  My family’s been doing this since the Revolutionary war.

SEN. GRAHAM:  Yeah, well, so, so has my family.

SEN. WEBB:  They do it for—they do it because they love their country, because they have a tradition, and it is the responsibility of our national leaders to make sure that they are used properly.

SEN. GRAHAM:  In conclusion, I think they go back because they see the face of the enemy that we’re fighting.  They don’t want their...

SEN. WEBB:  Well, you got to look at the polls, Lindsey, instead of...

SEN. GRAHAM:  ...kids to go back, they don’t want their grandkids to go back.

SEN. WEBB:  ...instead of the seven or eight people they bring in line when you make your congressional visit.

SEN. GRAHAM:  Bin Laden said this is the third world war in Iraq.  They go back because they know the consequences of losing.  God bless them, and let’s make sure they can win, because they can.

SEN. WEBB:  I’ll let them judge what you said.

MR. RUSSERT:  To be continued.

SEN. GRAHAM:  Yeah.  Thank you.

MR. RUSSERT:  Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Jim Webb, thank you very much.

SEN. WEBB:  Thank you.

SEN. GRAHAM:  Good television.

MR. RUSSERT:  Coming next, political strategist Republican Mike Murphy, Democrat Bob Shrum, political journalist Al Hunt of Bloomberg News, and Robert Novak of the Chicago Sun-Times, his first television interview since the publication of his new memoir, “The Prince of Darkness:  50 Years Reporting in Washington.” They are all coming up right here only on MEET THE PRESS.

(Announcements)

MR. RUSSERT:  Our MEET THE PRESS political roundtable—Mike Murphy, Bob Shrum, Al Hunt, Bob Novak—after this station break.

(Announcements)

MR. RUSSERT:  And we’re back.  Welcome all.  Before we get to Mr. Novak’s bible, let’s talk about the oh-thous--2008 presidential race.  The Republicans—here’s the latest national polls.  Now Rudy Giuliani still the lead at 32, down a few points from June; Fred Thompson, still unannounced, but up nine points since June; John McCain down four points; Mitt Romney down five.  Mr. Romney, however, continues to lead in Iowa and New Hampshire. Probably the big political story this week in Washington and in the campaign was John McCain.  Campaign shake-up, some of this closest advisers are now gone.  John Weaver, his chief strategist, who Senator McCain described to me as his brother, no longer with the campaign.  Charlie Cook of the National Journal wrote it this way:  “For all intents and purposes, McCain’s campaign is over.  The physicians have pulled up the sheet, the executors of the estate are taking over.  Paying bills, winding down—not strategizing, organizing and getting the message out—will be the order of the day.”

Mike Murphy, you worked for John McCain in 2000.

MR. MIKE MURPHY:  Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT:  Is the campaign done?

MR. MURPHY:  I don’t believe so.  I think it’s back to the future after a very, very painful week.  John Weaver’s a good guy, and it’s always hard to make these kind of changes in a campaign.  But they had a very tough decision to make in the McCain campaign about 14 months ago.  Do they run the insurgency campaign that was lot of fun last time and almost won, but lost? Or do they try the big invincible front-runner campaign of all the expense and overhead and pressure that has, which doesn’t really fit McCain right, but it’s the campaign that normally wins the nomination?  So now, in hindsight, it’s easy to criticize that decision, but at the time, they want to win.  So they tried it, McCain’s a bad fund-raiser, it’s not his style.  He shows a lot of political courage on immigration and the war, but the politics of that have been very tough for him.  So now I think McCain’s going to get the campaign that he is most comfortable with, which is a low budget campaign where it’s going to be McCain showing a lot of courage out there.  We’ll see if he can turn it into votes.

So they’re, they’re in big money trouble.  It’s, it’s very bad.  But with an ultra-low overhead and John McCain, who’s already famous, which is an advantage, out there in the fight, I think in the next six or seven weeks, he can start to get a message that catches on a little bit.  America loves a comeback story.  I think he’s back in the race, but it’s much more of a long shot now than it used to be.

MR. RUSSERT:  Bob Novak, you’ve been covering presidential politics a long time.  Is it doable?

MR. ROBERT NOVAK:  Remotely.  They never come back.  A lot, these early front-runners, I’ve seen a lot of them, George Romney, Ed, Ed Muskie, they’re way on top and they collapse, they never come back.  There’s always a first time.  I do believe that, without getting rid of Mr. Weaver, there would have been no chance.  I think whatever slim chance he has, as, as, as Mike says, it’s a, it’s a different campaign.  I think if, if Weaver was his brother, he was his evil brother because they have—he alienated so many people, but it’s, it’s going to be John McCain’s campaign now, but I think he’s a very long shot.

MR. RUSSERT:  Al Hunt.

MR. AL HUNT:  I agree with Bob, except on John Weaver.  I, I, I think the, the twin problems of immigration and Iraq, the time—I think John McCain is an authentic hero.  I think it’s kind of sad to watch this.  Tim, I think there’s probably a 40 percent chance he gets out of this thing in the—in the fall when the Iraq debate comes up and says, “This is going to be my mission now.”

MR. RUSSERT:  Bob Shrum.

MR. BOB SHRUM:  I thing the problems go deeper.  I think he was so traumatized by Bush winning in 2000 that he decided to run as Bush in 2008. The maverick became an expensive machine.  And right now, he’s the face—he’s a surrogate for Bush—he’s the face of the surge, he stood up on immigration and he should get credit for that, because he stood up on principle, but he’s not going to get delegates.  So I think he’s got a really fundamental problem, and Mike’s right.  He can go out there and he can be himself, but what’s he going to say when he is himself?

MR. MURPHY:  Well, the question that’s interesting to me is, I used to think—I’m becoming more cynical—that political courage was something people wanted in a president.  And John McCain, to his political detriment, it now seems, has gone out and told people what they don’t to hear, which nobody else running for president of either party has dared to do.  And so far, it hasn’t worked for him at all.  But that’s who he is, it’s all he’s got, and I think the voters—we’re still in the pre-season, believe it or not.  I don’t really believe national polls till people start voting.  This is a very front-loaded contest.  You score in those two early states—Iowa and New Hampshire—you can bounce all the way.  McCain, I think, is going to have the resources to go try to run that character, “I’m the truth teller” campaign in those two states, and it’s his best bet, it’s elegant for him.  He’ll give his best performance at it.  It’s his only political shot.

MR. SHRUM:  But it—it’s a referendum on the war.

MR. MURPHY:  But not in the Republican primary, I don’t think.  It’s a question...

MR. SHRUM:  Well, but even—but he’s got to get some of those moderate Republicans.  He’s got to get some of those independents, especially to score in New Hampshire.  He’s hurt there, and for all of his kissing of the base, they don’t like him.

MR. MURPHY:  Well, we’re the...

MR. NOVAK:  It’s a, it’s a perfect storm for Senator McCain, because although he’s, he’s on this, the, the party he is on, the war is very unpopular.  He’s, he’s unpopular inside the party on, on immigration.  There are so many issues, Tim, that he’s, he’s alienated Republicans on—stem cell research, global warming, campaign finance reform.  It’s a very tough situation.

MR. HUNT:  (Unintelligible)

MR. RUSSERT:  And the majority, a majority of the Republicans in Iowa are against the war, which is really striking.

MR. NOVAK:  Yeah.

MR. HUNT:  That—but that’s a caucus thing.  That’s hard for him.  And in New Hampshire, Mike, I tell you why, why I think it’s so hard for him.  The last time, he won because of the independents.  I mean, that’s what got—this time, they’re going to vote in the Democratic primary, not the Republican primary. That makes it almost impossible for John McCain.

MR. MURPHY:  I think they may split if McCain does his job.

MR. HUNT:  They were 70-30 last time, this time...(unintelligible).

MR. MURPHY:  The one truth of politics is everything is changing, and this is still the beginning of the beginning in the voter world.  Eighty percent of people make their decision last three or four weeks in January or maybe late December.  We got a ways to go.  I’m not saying he’s got a lock anymore, but he’s now running a real McCain campaign, which I don’t think rules him out.

MR. RUSSERT:  Talk about Rudy Giuliani, someone who, pro-abortion rights, pro-gay rights, pro-gun control, was said a year ago he doesn’t have a prayer for the Republican nomination, leading in national polls, and he has become the target of the International Association of Firefighters about his behavior on September 11th leading up to that date.  Let’s watch part of a 13-minute DVD that union put out.

(Videotape of IAFF FireFighters video)

Unidentified Man #1:  We did need radios that worked.  We didn’t have them. We did need proper respiratory protection.  They didn’t give it to us.  The things that we needed to do our jobs even better, we didn’t have because of his administration.

Unidentified Man #2:  So ultimately, the mayor of New York at the time, Mr. Giuliani, he has—bears the responsibility.

Unidentified Man #3:  And I blame Giuliani.  He was the leader that day.  And he was the leader for the eight years leading up to that.

Unidentified Woman:  I wish I could put him on the stand where he’d have to put his hand on the Bible and swear to tell the truth.

Man #3:  He’s not a leader.  He’s not—he’s running on 9/11, and it’s all a fallacy.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  The Giuliani campaign came out swinging, pre-emptively.  Here’s the report.  “Rudy dismisses union’s Swift Boat-style attack.  Rudy Giuliani’s president campaign moved quickly to blunt what it sees as a sensationalist Swift Boat-style attack by [the International Association of Fire Fighters].

“Before [the union] was able to release a video full of angry testimony belittling Giuliani’s support of New York City firefighters, the campaign fired off releases and held a news conference.”

Bob Shrum, you went through the swift boat situation with John Kerry.  How did Rudy Giuliani handle this situation and will this kind of testimony against him hurt?

MR. SHRUM:  He did the best he could.  He’s running a campaign that’s premised almost entirely on 9/11; he had to fight back.  He had a tough week. He seems to have a reversed Midas touch when it comes to picking personnel.  I mean, when you look at Senator Vitter and some of the other people that he’s recruited in the South that have gotten into some serious problems.

I think he has a deeper and more fundamental difficulty, which is, if you believe what they’re saying, their strategy is to shortchange Iowa and New Hampshire and go to Florida.  Well, Mitt Romney’s competing in Florida, he’ll have the money to do that.  He’s investing heavily in Iowa and New Hampshire. If he won there and went into Florida, I think Giuliani’s campaign could be very short-lived.

MR. RUSSERT:  How did Giuliani handle this?

MR. NOVAK:  I think he has a deaf ear when it comes to Republicans.  I’ve felt that for a long time.  I still would like to see him win a Republican primary.  You know these polls are great, Bob, but winning in New Hampshire, winning in Iowa, as you say, is going to be difficult.  I would say this. When he talks about a swift boat campaign, you know, for, for Republicans a swift boat was a very good thing.  Kept John Kerry from being president.  So, I mean, the idea of...

MR. SHRUM:  I’m not sure that’s what happened.  I think Osama bin Laden did that.

MR. NOVAK:  The, the—well...

MR. SHRUM:  With his tape.

MR. NOVAK:  I think it had a lot to do with it, particularly the way the campaign handled it—the Kerry campaign handled it.  But this—to make that a pejorative, it’s like, it’s like a lot of liberal Republicans would talk about McCarthyism, a lot of Republicans liked McCarthy.

MR. RUSSERT:  And you said that’s a whole other show.

MR. HUNT:  You know, Tim, I, I still have a great deal of difficulty imagining the Republican Party nominating a pro-choice, pro-gay rights, thrice mayor New Yorker, but Rudy has shown he can take a punch.  I would slightly disagree.  He really has shown that in the last couple of months.  He hasn’t been shaken.  And I think every time this issue is joined, even from critics, Rudy wins.  If the issue is 9/11, people think Rudy is the hero.  That, I think, is good for Rudy.

MR. MURPHY:  Tactically, his response was great.  I think the firemen are half about pensions and salaries and the other things other than 9/11, but Rudy has two big problems.  One is his campaign does not have a second story that moves forward in a change election.  We know about 9/11.  He’s going to get caught on a referendum of 9/11 instead of moving for—what he’s going to do for the country.  If he doesn’t get over that hurdle, he’s going to have big problems And I agree with Shrum, this strategy where I’m going to let somebody clobber me for a while then I’m going to come up through the floorboards invincible and shock everybody, it’s been tried.  It is a deadly strategy, and he’ll lose if he does that.  The process doesn’t wait for you to pick later states to make a stand in.  It’s totally fluid.  You got to win early and ride the bounce.

MR. RUSSERT:  Let’s go to the Democrats.  Here’s the latest national poll. Hillary Clinton’s at 42 percent; Barack Obama, 26; John Edwards, 16; Iowa and New Hampshire a little closer than that in some of the surveys.  The big news the last few weeks, Bill Clinton re-emerging on the campaign trail.  Here he was in Iowa last week.

(Videotape, July 3, 2007)

MR. BILL CLINTON:  (Iowa City, Iowa) I know some people sort of say, “Well, you know, look at them.  They’re old.  And they’re sort of yesterday’s news, you know?” Well, yesterday’s news was pretty good.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  Yesterday’s news was pretty good.  Here they are campaigning in New Hampshire again just this week, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton.  And it’s led to these kind of covers.  Here’s the cover with “The Bill factor,” and “Hillary’s Dilemma,” that’s Newsweek and The Week.  Which reminded me of 1992. We saw this cover, “The Hillary Factor.” What role did she play in that particular race?  Which led to this comment by Barack Obama.  “Bill Clinton crowed that Hillary Clinton had emerged from his shadow as a new leader for America, but Barack and Michelle Obama intimated both the ex-president and former first lady belong to the past.” Quote, “It’s time to turn the page.”

Bob Shrum, is that the whole campaign?  We can bring back the great days of the Clintons or it’s time to turn the page?

MR. SHRUM:  I think it is.  They, they, they tried this week to redefine change as nostalgia.  To borrow Bob Dole’s phrase, they want to build a bridge to the past.  And Democratic voters can cross that bridge, look at the 1990s and vote for Hillary Clinton.  It’s a strategy born of necessity.  They understand that she is the establishment candidate in a change election.

There was one other thing that was remarkable, by the way, in these appearances—Bill Clinton giving speeches five or six minutes long.  That hasn’t happened since he spoke at Boy’s State in high school.  He really wants to win this thing.

MR. MURPHY:  Here’s, I think, the Bill Clinton problem.  I’ll use a Hollywood example.  If you’re Robert Redford’s agent and the producers want him to star in a new movie, and they come to you and say “We’ve got a great co-star, Brad Pitt.” They’re going to, “No, no, no, we want Ernest Borgnine.” He takes the energy and the...

MR. SHRUM:  Are you calling Hillary Ernest Borgnine?

MR. MURPHY:  No, no, no, I’m using a Hollywood—I figured Democrats, Hollywood—a dated Hollywood reference here.  No, but it’s a problem.  He takes up all the energy, and he makes a change election about going backwards, which is death for her, I think.  So it’s a very hard thing for them to wiggle out of, just like McCain and immigration.  Sometimes the rules of gravity are stronger than all your clever campaign strategies.  But for all the advantages of Clinton, ultimately it shrinks her, makes her less, and it refocuses the campaign backward in a forward year.  I think it’s a terrific problem.

And the one—real quickly—the one metric I’m watching, Internet fund-raising. Because that’s where money is reaching out trying to find candidates rather than arms being twisted the old way to bring money in.  And that’s where Obama is killing.  It is a metric of real political strength for him.

MR. RUSSERT:  Bob Novak, there also seems to be a real subtle message—subliminal, nonetheless real—in the Barack Obama message, and that is it’s time to turn the page, 28 years of two families controlling the presidency.

MR. NOVAK:  That’s another thing.  That is something that everybody talks about.  And you know, talk about nostalgia.  It’s hard for a lot of these people to believe this, but there’s, there’s not that much nostalgia for Bill Clinton.  I just, I just find people who aren’t Democratic professional politicians, who, you know, are sorry they’ve had eight years of Republicans, they don’t really yearn for Bill Clinton.  The thing...

MR. RUSSERT:  But he does—he’s very popular in all the polls.

MR. NOVAK:  A lot of people don’t want him back, though, for a third—for a third term, and I think it’s very dangerous to call this a third term of Bill Clinton.

There’s one other thing.  The morale of the Republicans...

MR. RUSSERT:  Who’s done that?  Who’s called it the third term?

MR. NOVAK:  Me.

MR. RUSSERT:  Nice, nice try, Novak.

MR. NOVAK:  There’s...

MR. RUSSERT:  Consider the source.

MR. NOVAK:  Republicans are, are very pessimistic about 2008, when you talk to them off the record.  They don’t see how they can win this thing.  And then you—they think for a minute, and only the Democratic Party, with everything in their favor, would say that, OK, this is a year either to have a woman or an African-American to break precedent, to do things the country’s never done before, and it gives the Republicans hope.

MR. HUNT:  You know, I, I have a different take.  I don’t think the Bill Clinton thing is that big a deal at this time.  I think if you look at these two front-runners, and you look at over the last six months, Tim, they both have probably exceeded expectations.  Go back to January 15th.  If you said six months from now Hillary Clinton will have minimized her Iraq problem, she will have raised over $50 million, she would have done better than probably anyone in the joint forums, she would be cleaning up with political endorsements, you’d say it’s all over, she’s won.

But if you look at Obama and say a neophyte who has made almost no big mistakes, as Mike Murphy said is raising money like no one in the history of American politics, he can come back to it.  He’s still got all the energy, all the buzz in the party, you’d say he’s won the thing.  I think these two big political armies is like Gettysburg, July 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 1863.  We’re going to—they’re suddenly going to join in a succession of quick primaries in January, and no one’s sure who’s going to win.

MR. SHRUM:  And in January, people are going to get up and they’re going to say does she stand for change enough?  And on the other hand, they’re going to say does he have enough substance to go with the excitement?

MR. MURPHY:  Exactly.

MR. SHRUM:  And if the answer to the second question is yes, he could take off.

MR. RUSSERT:  Change, change vs.  experience.

MR. HUNT:  He’s within striking distance, clearly.

MR. MURPHY:  Yes.

MR. RUSSERT:  Let me turn to “The Prince of Darkness:  50 Years of Reporting in Washington.”

Offscreen Voice:  There he is.

MR. RUSSERT:  Why are you the “Prince of Darkness”?

MR. NOVAK:  A reporter, old reporter for Washington Post at that time, John J. Lindsay, said—we used to cover the Senate together and talk about things, and he thought I was so gloomy about the future of Western civilization, I was all of about 28 years old then, that he thought I was the Prince of Darkness. And the name stuck.  A lot of people call me the Prince of Darkness, though, because I’m for small government, low taxes and individual economic freedom. And of course, a lot of people—even a couple of them at this table—think that makes you the Prince of Darkness.

MR. RUSSERT:  You, you...

MR. MURPHY:  No, I just think it makes you wrong.

MR. RUSSERT:  You begin the book, as you might expect, a discussion of the whole Valerie Plame situation.  Let me read a little bit and talk about it.

“I was ushered into [Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage’s] office promptly at 3 p.m.  [on July 8, 2003].  for my visit.  I assumed, however, that what Armitage said would not be attributed to him but would not be off the record.  That is, I could write about information he gave me, but would not identify him by name.  I then asked Armitage a question.  Why would the CIA send Joseph Wilson on the mission to Niger?  ‘Well,’ Armitage replied, ‘you know his wife works at CIA, and she suggested that he be sent to Niger.’ ‘His wife works at’” the “‘CIA?’ I asked.  ‘Yeah, in counterproliferation,’” he, he said.  “He mentioned her by first name, Valerie.  Armitage smiled and said:  ‘That’s real Evans and Novak, isn’t it?’” Suggesting a green light to print it, in your mind.

MR. NOVAK:  That’s right, of course.

MR. RUSSERT:  Then you go on to say in the book, “Senior White House adviser Karl Rove returned my call late that afternoon,” July 8th, 2003, the same day.

“I mentioned” “I had heard that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA in the counterproliferation section and that she had suggested Wilson be sent to Niger.  I distinctly remember Rove’s reply:  ‘Oh, you know that, too.’ Rove and I also discussed other aspects of Wilson’s mission, but since he never has disclosed them publicly, neither have I.” So you considered Rove’s comments, “Oh, you know that, too,” as a confirmation?

MR. NOVAK:  Yes.  And of course, there’s also a third source, and that was the public relations man at the CIA, Bill Harlow, who, who admitted, who confirmed that she worked in the counterproliferation division.  But he said that she didn’t suggest the—that her husband go.  That’s—I think that was an incorrect information he gave me, but I I also put that in the column, that a source from the CIA said he was—she was not suggest—he did—she did not suggest her husband make the mission.

MR. RUSSERT:  In hindsight, should you have identified Valerie Plame as a CIA agent?

MR. NOVAK:  There was no indication by, by the official spokesman for the CIA or anybody else that anybody was put in danger, that—I suddenly didn’t get a direct call from George Tenet, the CIA director, who I knew.  And if he wanted to stop me from doing it, he could’ve, so I, I saw there was no pressure from me.  They asked me not, not to use her name, but didn’t say that it was anybody in danger or there was any security violation as a result.

MR. RUSSERT:  The president said early on in this that if anyone broke the law, that he would deal with it.  And now he’s saying, “Well, I wish that someone had come forward and raised their hand and said this had happened, but let’s move on.”

MR. NOVAK:  Well, Mr. Armitage did come forward.  He, he—before a special prosecutor was even named, he had—after a story appeared in which I said there was not a partisan gunslinger who gave me the information, he identified himself to the Justice Department.  So they—that did come forward.  And, of course, the wrong investigation by Mr. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, came after they knew that—who had been the leaker and had made a decision, obviously, that no law had been broken.  Because nobody was ever pros—Mr. Armitage was not prosecuted, nobody else was prosecuted.

MR. RUSSERT:  Al Hunt, what have we learned from all of this?

MR. HUNT:  From the book or the, or the Valerie Plame story?  The Valerie Plame story, I think we learned a lot about some of the problems the press has in Washington.  Not Bob, I think more others.  And I think Bob, in fact, got a bum rap from some people.  The book, if I could turn to the book just for a second, it is, I must tell you, it’s a fabulous book, and I say that as someone who thinks that Novak has more wrong views than anyone I’ve ever met in my life.  I mean, he really does believe that tax cuts can solve hemorrhoids.  But once he gets rid of those silly ideological views, he’s a great reporter.

MR. RUSSERT:  But wait, wait a minute.  He talks about you in the book, that he thought you were a Cleveland Park kind of, what would you say?

MR. HUNT:  Liberal.

MR. NOVAK:  Liberal.

MR. RUSSERT:  Yeah.  But he got to know you on, got to know you on the campaign trail.  You talked about politics, sports.  Then you went to a dinner party in 1981, both got drunk and had a knock-down, drag-out battle about tax policy.

MR. HUNT:  Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT:  You know, where I come from, we argue about women, football.

MR. HUNT:  Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT:  Tax policy?

MR. HUNT:  Tim, it was even worse.  That was—Chuck Grassley was at that party, the new senator from Iowa.  And he had been here for three months.  And he was so stunned that he told me, four months ago, he said, “I’ll never forget that night.” He said, “You guys were unbelievable,” and he can’t believe you’re friends.  But we got over it.

MR. RUSSERT:  Let me read another excerpt from the book, and, Bob Shrum, I think you will be interested in this one.  Regarding George McGovern, “April 25,” 1972, “George McGovern captured the Massachusetts primary.  The next day I phoned Democratic politicians around the country, who agreed with my assessment that blue-collar workers voting for McGovern did not understand what he really stood for.  One was quoted in the fourth paragraph” “Evans & Novak column April 27th:  ‘One liberal senator feels McGovern’s surging popularity depends on public ignorance of his acknowledged public positions. “The people don’t know McGovern is for amnesty, abortion and legalization of pot,” he told us.” One “middle America—Catholic middle America, in particular”’”—once they find out, “‘”he’s dead.”’

“With that, McGovern was the triple-A candidate who supported ‘amnesty, abortion and acid.’ The triple-A label was to haunt McGovern into the autumn campaign against Nixon.

“I had not been in touch with” my source “Senator X for 30 years, when I began working on these memoirs in 2003.  I wrote him—now Mr. X, retired from the Senate, asking whether I could identify him.  His answer was swift and succinct:  ‘Dear Bob, what I told you, it was off the record, and I still consider it that way.’” Well, since that time, Mr. X, Senator X died, and he turned out to be, Bob Novak?

MR. NOVAK:  Thomas Eagleton.  His—the—Mr. McGovern’s brief running mate. He was picked for—as his vice presidential nominee, later resigned from the ticket.  But he—that was a secret that was kept until his, his death, and people are—a lot of—a lot of people said I had made up the name.  I had gone to Tom Eagleton and asked him if I could clear myself, since the campaign was long over, use his name.  He said “Oh, he had to run for re-election.  The McGovernites would kill him if they knew he had said that.” But it was Tom Eagleton.

MR. SHRUM:  Boy, do I wish he would have let you publish his name.  Then he never would have been picked as vice president.  Because the two things, the two things that happened to George McGovern—two of the things that happened to him—were the label you put on him, number one, and number two, the Eagleton disaster.  We had a messy convention, but he could have, I think in the end, carried eight or 10 states, remained politically viable.  And Eagleton was one of the great train wrecks of all time.  You know, he had his 85th birthday here yesterday, and a big celebration...

MR. RUSSERT:  McGovern.

MR. SHRUM:  ...and 35th anniversary of the nomination, and I’m glad I was in the McGovern campaign.  I didn’t get to walk the corridors of the White House, but I didn’t have to walk into a federal prison either.

MR. RUSSERT:  And happy birthday to George McGovern, turning 85.

MR. NOVAK:  Happy birthday.

MR. RUSSERT:  He was on this program talking about the Eagleton situation. Here’s George McGovern back in 1972.

(Videotape, October 29, 1972)

SEN. GEORGE McGOVERN (D-SD):  There was no way, under the law, that I could have forced Senator Eagleton to step down had he not agreed to do so.  And we talked about it.  I told him it was my judgment that it was in the national interest that his medical history not become a major issue in this campaign. There were too many other serious issues that we needed to discuss of the kind that we’d been talking about here today.  He accepted my judgment on that.  He did step down from the ticket.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  As you know, Senator Eagleton was treated for shock—for depression by shock therapy about 10 years before he was selected.  Senator McGovern saying he couldn’t kick him off the ticket, but he could encourage him to resign.

MR. NOVAK:  I, I think it’s interesting why he would make that comment to me. He really believed that about McGovern because, although Eagleton was anti-Vietnam, he was a liberal—strong liberal voting record.  But he was a dedicated pro-life Catholic who, in fact, in the—during those succeeding 13 years he served in the Senate, had—sponsored a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v.  Wade.

MR. RUSSERT:  But, Bob, you raise an interesting point.  Just because someone dies, does that mean that you can then identify them?

MR. NOVAK:  That’s my, that’s my, my take on it, the take on, by, by a lot of people.  I think that, that, that eliminates—that’s—then we can—and I hope that both McGovern—both—as Tom Eagleton and I go to heaven, we can argue it out there.  But I believe—I do believe that that removes the responsibility.

MR. RUSSERT:  You also identify people, saying, well, the issue’s no longer relevant or it’s no longer important, so I felt it’d be OK to identify people.

MR. NOVAK:  That’s, that’s controversial.  I thought I would write this memoir as my, as my departure out of Washington and my retirement.  A lot of people would like to see me retire, but I am not retiring.

MR. SHRUM:  A lot of hope.

MR. NOVAK:  I’m never going to retire, and so, and so I did—I do reveal, I reveal some sources.  I keep some, I—some of them.  I have a lot of permission on some to use their names.

MR. RUSSERT:  Al Hunt, should you reveal a source after they die?

MR. HUNT:  I think that’s a tough call.  I think probably depends on the circumstances and, by and large, I would say that’s OK.  I would have trouble revealing a source before they’re dead, if they don’t release you.

MR. RUSSERT:  Bob Shrum, Mike Murphy, have you two ever been sources?  For Bob Novak?

MR. SHRUM:  For Bob Novak?  For him?

MR. MURPHY:  God forbid, gambling in the casino?  No.  You should always reveal Shrum.

MR. SHRUM:  I’m a source for both of them.

MR. RUSSERT:  Here it is:  Would you like Novak to reveal things that you said to him after you did?

MR. SHRUM:  Well, since I’ve retired and revealed all this stuff in my book, I don’t—in most cases I don’t know that I would mind very much.

MR. MURPHY:  Absolutely, absolutely.

MR. NOVAK:  Wait a minute, after you told me I can, I can come out with that?

MR. SHRUM:  I said, I said in most cases I wouldn’t mind.

MR. MURPHY:  Except the predictions.

MR. SHRUM:  (Unintelligible)

MR. MURPHY:  Yeah, because it’s history then, and I haven’t leaked anything terrible, so, you know...

MR. RUSSERT:  In fact, Bob Shrum, in his book, wrote about Mr. Novak.  Let’s take a look at his observations about Bob Novak right here on the screen.  And it says:  “Presidents come and go, but Novak remains.” I’d like to poll that, I’ll tell you that.

The book, “The Prince of Darkness:  50 Years Reporting in Washington.” Bob Novak, Albert Hunt, Mike Murphy, Bob Shrum, thank you.  We’ll continue our discussion, and find out more about the story behind Novak’s red vest—and Hunt’s involved in that as well—other revealing tales from his new memoir “Prince of Darkness:  50 Years Reporting in Washington,” our MEET THE PRESS Take Two Web extra on our Web site this afternoon, mtp.msnbc.com.  You’ll want to take a look at that.  We’ll be right back.

(Announcements)

MR. RUSSERT:  That’s all for today.  Find out who’ll be meeting the press right now on your cell phone.  Text MTP to 46833.  Receive weekly alerts on Friday afternoon with Sunday’s MEET THE PRESS guest line-up.

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

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  1. TODAY

    video Boston counts down to marathon Monday

    4/20/2014 1:23:53 PM +00:00 2014-04-20T13:23:53
  1. Malaysia's government to issue MH370 death certificates

    The Malaysian government will issue death certificates for passengers of missing Flight MH370 and provide financial assistance to families still hanging onto hopes of their loved ones being found alive, officials said on Sunday.

    4/20/2014 12:01:54 PM +00:00 2014-04-20T12:01:54
  1. David Bailey / PA

    Queen Elizabeth gets a new birthday portrait

    4/20/2014 12:45:06 PM +00:00 2014-04-20T12:45:06