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>> Suarez: Finally tonight, as former senator john
joins a growing field of democratic and republican presidential
hopefuls, Margaret Warner looks at the challenges ahead for him
and everyone else running for office in 2008.
>> Warner: With the 2006 elections behind us and the '08
presidential campaign already gearing up, what does the
political terrain look like for the two major parties, their
elected officials, and their candidates to be? To explore that
we turn to five political analysts, thinkers and authors on this
issue. Michael fauntroy, a professor at the george mason school
of public poll swi a just-released book "republicans and the
black vote." David frum, a contributing editor at the national
review magazine has just finished a book on conservatism, the
next republican president. It's scheduled for release early next
year. Andrew sullivan is a conservative commentator and author.
His new book is "the conservative soul, how we lost it, how to
get it back." Peter beinart is editor at large of the new
republic magazine and author of "the good fight, why liberals
and only liberals can win the war on terror and make america
great again." And tom ed sad is a former senior political
reporter for the "washington post" and now a professor at the
columbia school of journalism. His new book is "building red
america" the new conservative coalition and the drive for
permanent power. Well, you've all been very busy but let's talk
about the political terrain. Peter beinart, beginning with you,
as 2007 is dawning, what does the political landscape look like
to you of this country and has it changed in the last year or
>> I think it has. I think we may look back at 2006 as the
end of an era of conservative dominance that began with the
midterm election of 1978 that heralded the election of ronald
reagan. National security was the glue that help held the reagan
coalition together and it has been the glue that has held the
republican coalition together since 9/11 for george W. Bush.
That has more than anything else allowed republicans to win the
down scale voters they have to win to win presidential
elections. That is gone now and I don't think it's going to come
back for a very long time. So I think we are in era like the
early 1990s when a conservative coalition has fractured and
there are all these new pieces on the table and the question
will be will a different kind of republican pick them up or will
the democrats take the opportunity?
>> Warner: David frum, take my question and that question.
>> It's an ominous terrain for republicans, but not at all a
hopeless one. And there's a lot of reason to believe that the
republican party is going to reemerge in the coming year. I
don't think peter quite meant to say that the national security
issue had vanished. It remains more pressing than ever. One of
the things that we learned from his very important book, peter
has all kinds of amazing surveys about the pass vichl of the
democratic base. That's going to make it impossible for the
democratic party to choose hawkish leaders going into 2008. And
the threat of terrorism remains. The republicans have problems.
The health care issue is coming very much to the fore again,
health care costs have just about doubled for the average family
in the past six years and they're going to want an answer. And
the immigration ise erging as a truly important issue. But I
think this is a landscape in which republicans have betterrt
it's impossible for democrats to come up with an answer on
immigration, for example.
>> Warner: Tom edsall, how does it look to you taking the '06
elections into account.
>> I'm not sure at all that the democrat leaders so far,
harry read and nancy pelosi have demonstrated the kind of skills
and the kind of agenda that's likely to pull the party together
and give it a leg up at a time when they do have a real chance.
The republican party's real strength that it has come back time
and time again from the depths of severe depression: Watergate,
iran/contra, shutting down the government, newt gingrich's
problems. And it comes back fighting and before. The democrat
had better be prepared for that if they want>> Warner: How do
you see this, michael?
>> I see it a little muddled at some level. The republicans
have to decide what kind of party they want to be going forward.
Do they want to be the party in use e democrats of being:
Obstructionist, not willing to work together to get things done
or do they want to cast an eye toward the center of the american
populous ideologically and do some things that can be seen as
showing leadership from a minority position? I think if they can
do that, then they can position themselves well for 2008.
>> Warner: Andrew sullivan, let me take all that into
account, but what the election was saying about where the
country is, do you think this represented a philosophical shift?
Was it just the iraq war?
>> I think the war cannot be underestimated in all of this,
and I think that the war should not be underestimated in the
future. What happens in iraq, whether this catastrophic
failure... becomes even worse over the next two years will have
a huge effect on what happens in politics.
>> Warner: So are you saying that really the '06 election
didn't represent any kind of shift going on other than if you
took the iraq war out of it?
>> No, I think there was one other small shift going on which
is the republicans lost their national security advantage
because they were losing the war. They've already thrown away
their fiscal responsibility advantage with the center because
they've been so reckless in their spending and borrowing. So
then all they had were their social issues. And they've suddenly
realized that by being entirely about god and about social
issues and about the south that the midwest and the rocky
mountain west and all of the centrist republicans said uh-uh,
we're out of here. We're not part of the dixie party, we've
never been part of the dixie party. If that's all you are, we're
prepared to look at the democrats again and that's what
happened. So both came together. That was much bigger shift this
year than the numbers, I think, in congress revealed.
Underneath, a huge shift, especially in the younger generation
away from the republican party.
>> Warner: Peter beinart, that's true, isn't it, that if you
look at the exit polls" at, say, younger voters who went
decisively for democrats. I also noticed that really the only
group the republicans won were white men. And they lost by huge
margins among every ethnic group or among women as a whole. What
does that tell you?
>> I think it tells you that the republicans do have a
long-term problem. Hispanic americans, it seems to me now, are
being assimilated into their americanness to some degree through
labor movement, the catholic church and the democratic party.
Allah the way that italians and jews and other ethnic groups
were in the period of franklin roosevelt. One successful
democratic president who seems to benefit the latino community
in the united states I think can fortify that allegiance to the
democratic party in a way that will have massive implication.
The republican party cok simply not compete in the long term in
american politics if they can't get higher than a third of the
hispanic vote and I think there are big questions about whether
they'll do that.
>> Warner: Michael, you were trying to get in.
>> The assimilation of the hispanics in the democratic party
has been accelerated by republicans actually pushing hispanic
voters out through immigration and so on and so forth. And the
republicans have dropped tremendously in terms of their hispanic
support. And that coupled with african american levels of
support that are just nearly at the floor to me means that the
republican party is in serious jeopardy. I don't think we've
talked enough about how bad the republican party stands with
these various aspects of the american electorate. And if it's
not fixed soon, the republicans, even more so than we were
talking about with the democrats not long ago, could end up
going the way of the whigs because there will be no one to
>> Warner: David frum, do you agree that these big gaps in
these growing demographic groups is a potential problem for
>> Yes, I do. I also think that especially when you look at
the hispanic vote, that's not just a problem for republicans,
it's a problem for america. The hispanic vote has been trending
away from the republican party, that's true. But it's really no
surprise. And one of the great question marks over george bush
has been why is it that, given that this is bad policy and bad
politics for his party, he seems so determined to make this
problem so much bigger.
>> Warner: Tom edsall?
>> Looking at the hispanic vote, it has not been trending
democratic. The last election it went much more democratic. In
the prior two elections it had been trending republican. If the
republicans nominate a john mccain, who has been very pro
immigration and pro hispanic in effect, they are likely
ameliorate a lot of the problems that were the result of a very
vicious congressional debate.
>> Warner: Over the fence, the whole...
>> The whole issue of the fence and how they violate our
culture and all allegations that were very harmful to the G.O.P..
the other thing is that the single fastest growing group among
hispanics are evangelical, not catholic, hispanics. They are
growing very rapidly and they are the most politicized group.
They vote more, they are more attentive to politics.
>> Warner: And very republican?
>> Well, they are the one group where the republicans made
virtually all their gains in 2004. They lost them in 2006
because of this immigration debate. But they are there ready to
be taken back by the republicans in a more traditional election.
>> The fact is, the base of the republican party is so
motivated against immigration. I mean, this is one of the
central issue which is really fires up the base. No pro
immigrant republican is going to win that nomination. But only a
pro immigrant republican is going to be able to help the
republican party win in the long run. That's their problem.
>> Warner: Peter, you were trying to get in here.
>> Just to underscore andrew's point, that's exactly right.
That's why I think moment resembles the early 1990s. What
happened in the early 1990s was down scale republicans who had
been with ronald reagan partly on culture but mostly on national
security defected after the cold war and were open and their
politics was an anti-globalization politics. They were the
losers in globalization. That was the basis of ross pro's
campaign. It seems to me you have what i would call lou dobbs
republicans. A lot of people who with were george W. Bush on the
war on terror but as andrew said correctly are now animated less
by the war on terror and more by hostile toy immigration. I
don't think those people are going to vote for john mccain and I
think a democrat could win in 2008 with less than 50% of the
vote as bill clinton did because these republican voters, it
seems to me, are not going to vote for an eventually pro
globalization republican presidential candidate.
>> Warner: So david frum, what do the republicans-- both the
ones in congress and the ones positioning to run for president
fairly succinctly if you can-- need to do to best use these next
two years to position for '08?
>> Republicans need a health care answer. And that is going
to be in 2008 what education was in the 1990s, the master key.
And they need an immigration answer that is not anti-immigrant,
that recognizes the importance of immigration but that says laws
have to be enforced and that when you have an immigration policy
that opens the doors to the least skilled, that you put enormous
pressure on the wages of americans and create tremendous social
problems. That there is a big difference between saying the
answer is zero immigration and eight million immigrants in six
years, half of them illegal.
>> Warner: And michael, what do you think democrats have to
do to position themselves to use these two years?
>> I think the watch word has to be competence. One of the
reasons, I believe, why the republicans did so poorly in the
november elections was congressional republicans were seen as
aiding and abetting the president's incompetence in terms of
management of the federal government, the federal bureaucracy.
If the democrats can demonstrate some level of interest in
trying to make sure the government run mrs. Efficiently, I think
they will be better positioned for 2008. Now, conservatives and
liberals get into this argument about the size of government,
but one thing I think everyone can agree with is that whatever
the size of the government is, it ought to at least run
effectively and efficiently.
>> Warner: Andrew, the republicans, briefly.
>> I think they have to take on corruption. I think they have
to take on earmarks and pork. I think they have to take on
entitlements, out-of-control spending, they have to restore
their fiscal standing, remain americans they are for balanced
budgets, not crazy spenders. And I think they have to be very
diligent about the war on terror and to recognize that it is
still a fundamental most important threat but that simply
bombing places and forcing people to be free and running it
iktly at the same time is not a recipe for success. We have to
be subtler in this war.
>> Warner: Peter beinart, the democrats?
>> I think the democrats need answer the fundamental economic
anxieties you saw reflected in the 2006 elections which are
coming out through the issue of trade in particular. I think
democrats also have to start moving more ambitiously on these...
on issues like health care and on pensions, on child care, the
general erosion of the american welfare state which has led most
americans to be living more economically insecure lives than
their parents. And beyond that, they have to lay out a foreign
policy vision, not one that's going to make conservatives happy
but one that talks about how america can remain the strongest
country in the world and exercise leadership around the world by
being strong at home, we can't be strong around the world if
we're weak at home, and by revitalizing the international
institutions that have been the foundation of american
leadership? The world but have decayed under george W. Bush.
>> Warner: Tom edsall, take a swing at both parties.
>> I think democrats have to do, as peter said, position
themselves to deal with the lou dobbs republicans. Those are the
people who switched in the last election. The they're generally
middle and working class voters from the middle west who are
having real problems with jobs, pensions. It's a very tough
issue deal with because democrats are not in a position to raise
taxes. They are in a position to use these two years to focus
attention on those issues as the congressional party against the
presidential republican party. The republicans have a real long
haul and I think that they have done something in iraq that is
going to take a long time to repair, much longer than just
getting out of there. They've basically punched a hornet's nest
and made things, perhaps, much, much worse and much more
dangerous for americans and somehow resolving that is going to
be very difficult and the current administration seems to be
pretty modest in that light.
>> Warner: Andrew sullivan, david frum, tom edsall, michael
faunt ray, peter beinart, thank you all.
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