This is a rush transcript of ‘Fox News Sunday’ on October 22, 2023. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I’m Shannon Bream.
New fears today of a broader conflict in the Middle East. Israel warplanes overnight striking targets in Gaza, Syria and the West Bank.
President Netanyahu convening his cabinet late last night to discuss what an Israeli military spokesman calls the next stages of the war.
BREAM (voice-over): Israeli strikes targeting Hamas turn building after building in Gaza to rubble, as tens of thousands of Israeli troops gathered just outside the border and the world awaits a possible ground invasion.
Meanwhile to the north, increasing tensions for Israel with Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon.
Here at home, thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters calling for a ceasefire clashed with police in America’s biggest city.
We’ll talk with the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I’m going to send to Congress an urgent budget request.
BREAM: The White House calling on Congress to provide funding not only for Israel but also for Ukraine.
BIDEN: Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common — they both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy.
BREAM: The call for action faces an uphill battle as Republicans’ support for funding the Ukraine war ebbs, and the House remains paralyzed without a speaker.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I like the way it used to be where we would get together and try to do the right thing for our country and for our allies.
BREAM: We’re one-on-one with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): We need to come together and figure out who our speaker is going to be.
BREAM: After failing to rally enough support three times, the GOP audibles again, ditching the latest nominee for House speaker.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): It’s as swampy as swamp gets, and Jim Jordan deserved better than that.
BREAM: Republicans are returning to square one, with multiple contenders say they’re in as the lower chamber nears three weeks in limbo. We’ll ask our Sunday panel who the House GOP may tap next.
All, right now, on “FOX News Sunday”.
BREAM (on camera): Hello from FOX News in Washington.
It has been more than two weeks since Hamas’ shocking attack on Israel. The Israeli Defense Force continues to amass troops in the south ahead of an anticipated ground invasion of Gaza. A bit of good news this week, Hamas released two American hostages and international humanitarian aid has begun to flow into Gaza through a passage of Egypt.
These are live pictures from the Rafah border from Egypt into Gaza. But clashes and exchange of fire to the north between Israel and Hezbollah militants across the Lebanon border has many concerned about two-front conflict.
We begin with Trey Yingst live in southern Israel with the latest on the ground.
TREY YINGST, FOX NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Shannon, good morning.
Anticipation is growing ahead of Israel’s looming ground offensive into the Gaza Strip. The Israelis say they are increasing airstrikes across the enclave in preparations for what is expected to be months of fighting. Israel’s 16-day air campaign against Gaza has destroyed infrastructure and killed more than 4,600 Gazans.
According to the Palestinian health ministry, inside Israel, the death toll stands at more than 1,400 people, following that brutal massacre on October 7th.
Now, FOX News spoke with the Golani Brigade in the southern part of this country to talk about how they are preparing for battle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIL FARES, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: I have to protect my people, the people I love. And they know that this Hamas can danger them after what they did here, after they — what they did to citizens, to innocent citizens that did nothing to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YINGST: Despite Israeli efforts factions inside Gaza have maintained the ability to fire on southern and central Israel, targeting central Israel with rockets and mortars here near to the border. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YINGST: Thirteen Palestinians were killed. We need to go because there could be mortar fire here. Just stay with me.
YINGST: So, what you heard there of the whistle of incoming mortar fire, so that — those were indeed mortars that were fired at this position. And we are so close to the Gaza border, you had about ten seconds to get cover.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YINGST: Overnight, Israel conducted a rare airstrike against Palestinians in the West Bank, another indication this war is expanding to new fronts — Shannon.
BREAM: Yeah. And, Trey, there is a worry that it would expand to the northern front. What can you tell us what’s going on with Hezbollah and the Lebanon area?
YINGST: The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has continued to fire rockets and small arms into northern Israel today launching anti-tank guided missiles into the country. The Israelis have started to respond immediately to that fire with both airstrikes and artillery units along the border.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with troops today saying to Hezbollah if they go to war with Israel, it would bring unimaginable damage to the group and Lebanon — Shannon.
BREAM: All right. Trey Yingst reporting around the clock for us from Israel, thank you so much, Trey.
Joining us now, retired four-star general and FOX News senior strategic analyst, Jack Keane.
General, great to have you back with us.
JACK KEANE, FOX NEWS SENIOR STRATEGIC ANALYST: Great to be here.
BREAM: So, I want to start with something we got from the Defense Secretary Austin, talking about new assets moving into the region, the Eisenhower Strike Group. He specifically references escalations by Iran and its proxy forces. I mean, obviously, Hezbollah, Hamas among that.
What are the greatest threats you see now?
KEANE: Well, certainly, the number one threat is Hezbollah. I mean, they’re a — they’re a paramilitary force. They have conventional capability. They have 130,000-plus rockets and missiles that the Iranians have given them.
They have gotten them from no place else. And these are much more advanced, more precision, more lethality, and actually more accuracy in terms of the range of these weapons and what they — what they can do on the ground.
So, yes, they have a significant capability. Israelis have handled them before but struggled with it back in 2006. What we would see here is a very heavy rocket and missile attack that can range all of the major cities. We’ve never seen it on the scale that they actually have.
Now, when you look at what’s actually happening on the ground with Hezbollah. They have not evacuated any of their southern positions, which they likely would have done with their people. They have not gone to any kind of full mobilization yet, which they would — they would likely do.
But the only thing that is relevant here, so our viewers understand, it’s Iran. They will make those decisions, whether they go or not. And that likely has something to do with how things go in Gaza with the Israelis. And what the perception is in the international community as well.
It’s going to be Iran’s decision, just as the Hamas attack on Israel was Iran’s decision.
BREAM: I want to put a map of the region there because so many countries that we’re talking with or trying to influence, trying to stop from spreading more broadly in the region. How are we doing on that point? Because as you said, Iran, many people believe, is calling the shots. But we have other actors there who can influence what’s happening in the region.
KEANE: Yeah, certainly. What the United States is doing, first, I give the president credit for the speech the other night. Something I think when it comes to Ukraine should have been done a year ago, but it’s here now.
Secondly, certainly moving the military capabilities into the region that you are referencing is very critical. Capability is part of deterrence. The adversary sees the capability, and they know it’s powerful, and they know it would harm them.
The second thing that’s crucial with deterrence is, are you willing to use it? And that is where our adversaries have had doubts about the United States recently.
So, I’m hoping that privately, we are telling and poking the finger figuratively in the chest to the Iranians and saying, don’t make this move because we are dead serious that we will use this capability against your proxies and possibly against you, yourself. I’ll leave the target selections up to the administration and the Pentagon.
But that is what deterrence is all about. It’s not just enough to move the capabilities, say (ph), your adversaries got to believe you’re going to use them.
BREAM: I want to ask you quickly, too, because you’re just back from Ukraine, polls show us that people are growing wary here, at least about the financial support, not knowing what the finish line is.
What can you tell us about what’s happening there on the ground?
KEANE: Well, first of all, you’ve got to realize, all of this is connected to what’s happening. United States is facing global security challenges we haven’t seen since World War II, Shannon.
I mean, look at this. We have three geographic areas of vital national interests, Europe, China and Indo-Pacific region, and also in the Middle East.
War is broken out in two of those areas, and the third area, China, he’s threatening it. This is not happening by accident. They perceive that we don’t have the capabilities to deter them anymore, that we’ve lost some political will. And here, we’re reflecting this loss of political will in Ukraine.
We not only have to support Ukraine, Ukraine’s got to win this war. It’s related to these other two regions.
The world is becoming a more dangerous place. And the United States’ weakness is what they perceived, whether it’s real or not is not — it’s irrelevant. They perceived it.
We’ve got to win that war in Ukraine. We cannot have Russia win that war. If that happens, China wins, and so are the Iranians.
And what does it do? It encourages them. It emboldens. We all see the aggression that has increased in the last couple of years. It’s not by accident.
It’s their perception that they have one opportunity which is what the Germans, the Japanese and the Italians thought in World War II. And two (ph), the perception of weakness, and it’s here.
BREAM: It’s very dangerous.
General, thank you for always giving us some of your insights and expertise.
KEANE: Yeah, great talking to you, Shannon.
BREAM: BREAM: All right. I sat down this week, by the way, with the Senate’s top Republican, who’s being called the only GOP negotiator by some on the Hill. As the House remains without a speaker, we talked about all these things. I asked Senate Minority Mitch McConnell about his health in the midst of all these challenges. He says he’s doing great and has a clean bill of health.
So, we dove into these foreign policy conversations.
MCCONNELL: I think we’re confronted with a major international situation. You look back to the fall of Berlin Wall, it was widely said that we went into a holiday with history. We had a couple of conflicts related to terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, but no big power competition.
Fast forward to today, we still have the terrorist threat challenge which the Israelis are trying to deal with. And we have big power competition — China, Russia.
So, in many ways, the world is more endangered today than it has in my lifetime.
So, the question is, is America going to lead?
I think the Biden administration sent a wrong signal when they had the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. I think that was like even a green light to Putin to go into Ukraine. And we see that Iran, the principal sponsor of terrorism, sending drones to the Russians and attacking — Hezbollah and this particular situation, Hamas, attacking the Israelis with drones.
So, it’s all connected, that you can’t separate out one part of it and say, oh, we’re only going to deal with this. It’s all connected.
BREAM: So, the White House is now coming forward with $145 billion request and they are linking all these things — Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, the southern border.
And I know your GOP colleague objects to that. But let’s start with Senator Rand Paul. He says this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Our deficit this year will exceed $1.5 trillion. Borrowing money from China to send it to Ukraine makes no sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: So, what is your answer to that? This idea of taking money from somebody who doesn’t wish us the best in all circumstances in order to pay for Ukraine?
MCCONNELL: Well, he’s certainly right that the deficit is entirely too big. And, frankly, it was expanded during the previous administration as well. So, I think these aside have done a very good job of dealing with the deficit.
However, you have to respond to conditions that actually exist that are a threat to the United States. The Iranians are a threat to us as well.
And so this is an emergency. It’s an emergency that we step up and deal with this axis of evil — China, Russia, Iran — because it’s an immediate threat to the United States.
And so, we’ll see what the supplemental looks like. We’re going to take a good hard look at it.
And I and most of my members believe we need something credible on the border as well. I mean, if we’re going to challenge and accept the financial responsibility of having our allies, we certainly want to do something to help ourselves.
And so, we’ll give this supplemental request a serious look. Probably recommend some changes as well.
BREAM: Well, some critics say they don’t want everything bundled because they do think that those are separate crises. Josh Hawley and Rick Scott both say they don’t support that idea.
Here’s something that came from Senator J.D. Vance after the president’s remarks. He said this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. J.D. VANCE (R-OH): I think what the president did is completely disgraceful. If he wants to sell the American people on $60 billion more to Ukraine, he shouldn’t use dead Israeli children to do it. It was disgusting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: Now, Senator Vance told me, he thinks the president should have to come and make the argument on each of these separate priorities and no one, especially not Republicans, should be giving him cover on something like explaining to us what the goals are in Ukraine and how long that’s going to last.
MCCONNELL: Well, there are some differences of opinions among Republican senators about this.
I don’t view it as about whether you give Biden credit or not. This is a question about whether it’s a serious threat to the United States. If the Russians aren’t defeated, they’re going to a NATO — NATO country next.
And that notion that somehow our Asian allies are unconcerned about Ukraine is completely wrong. The Prime Minister of Japan said, if you want to send President Xi a message, beat the Russians in Ukraine, the South Koreans, the Japanese, Taiwanese are all interested in what’s happening over in Ukraine because they know President Xi is watching that. President Xi recently declared that they had an endless friendship with the Russians. What more do you need to know about how relevant Ukraine is to Asia and to the Middle East?
BREAM: So Putin is over there this week in Beijing been meeting with Xi. How worried are you about them looking from the outside and watching things like Axios reporting that artillery shells that we had designated for Ukraine are now having to be diverted to Israel? Taiwan has millions of dollars’ worth of orders for equipment and artillery that we’ve been unable to fulfill for them. What do you make of what China must be thinking, watching all of that?
MCCONNELL: Yeah, one of the best things about this from a U.S. point of view, is when we give older equipment, to the Ukrainians, for example, we are rebuilding our industrial base in this country. There are jobs being created by the help that we’re providing Ukraine in 38 different states, and rebuilding our industrial complex for the more serious big powers in Asia.
So the notion that — that — that our assistance for Ukraine is not helpful to us, is simply not factual. We need to get more serious about Iran. This administration flirted with Iran on the nuclear deal, again. Senator Cotton — and I joined him. I have a bill to freeze the $6 billion that was supposed to be sent to the Iranians related to the hostage release. They shouldn’t get a penny of it. And it ought to be law not just left up to the discretion of the President.
So the main point I’m trying to make here is you can’t just take out part of this. It’s an overall effort by Chinese or Russians, the Iranians to go after the free world. And the Israelis are feeling the pinch at the moment more than anyone else, and we need to stick with them. Because what’s going to happen here very quickly, and by the way, the Chinese made no reference to Israeli problems. They just talked about the Hamas. We know which side they’re on. And we need to view this as a worldwide problem is my point.
BREAM: Do you think because many Americans want the government to speak as one voice where they can, the Senate, the White House on issues of import, like Iran? I mean, where we have a clearly defined position or relationship with them? Do you think this White House has been a good partner with the Senate, with Republicans when it comes to issues of foreign policy?
MCCONNELL: Well, look, I — I’m generally supportive of the President’s approach here. And viewing this as a worldwide problem. On the domestic side, I can’t think of a single thing I support the Biden administration has done. They are, for example, the creator of 40-year inflation as a result of the massive spending they engaged in, in the last Congress. So generally speaking, I think there’s been a left-wing administration that I don’t support.
However, when it comes to foreign policy and defense, I like the way it used to be where we would get together and try to do the right thing for our country and for our allies. NATO for example, most successful military alliances in world history, and they are threatened by what’s happening in Ukraine.
Also, the argument you might have heard is the Europeans are not doing enough. You might be interested to know they’ve done about $90 billion and they are housing lots of refugees who escaped from the war. We’re providing more military, but they’re providing more humanitarian and taking care of people who escaped from Ukraine during this. I think that NATO countries are by and large carrying their load and some of these countries, smaller countries are spending more as a percentage of gross domestic product on helping the Ukrainians than we are.
BREAM: To this point where there’s sort of a collision of the — of the foreign policy and a domestic issue here. I want to ask you about Senator Menendez. The superseding indictment now in his case, says he essentially, the allegations are that he did things to benefit Egypt, in exchange for things of value or promises of things of value and didn’t register as a foreign agent. That’s quite an allegation to make against a sitting senator, do you think he should resign? Should due process play out in the courts? What do you make of the allegations?
MCCONNELL: Well, I think that is something Senator Schumer and the Democrats have to decide how to deal with. And I didn’t give him advice about how to deal with it. Let me just say this, I’m glad it’s not a Republican.
BREAM: Well, you’ve got some Republican issues over on the House side. Any advice for those folks over there as they try to figure this out?
MCCONNELL: I hope they can get a speaker sometime soon. Because it does send a — I think, a poor message to our allies and our enemies around the world. And we also have work to do, we have appropriation bills to pass. We have a supplemental to deal with. So I’m pulling for them to finally wrap this up sometime soon.
BREAM: Leader, we thank you for your time.
MCCONNELL: Thank you.
BREAM: Good to see you.
BREAM: Amidst all those issues, thousands of people now rallying and demonstrating in favor of a State of Palestine. That’s all over the country. They’re protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza as well. We’ll bring in Congressman Adam Smith to react to the nationwide protests, next.
BREAM: President Biden announced a humanitarian aid deal for Gaza this week. And that aid has now started to flow in via Egypt this weekend. The skeptics worry it’s just a matter of time until that aid meant to help suffering civilians ends up in the hands of Hamas or its sympathizers.
Joining me now to discuss the situation in the Middle East, Democratic Congressman Adam Smith of Washington State. He’s the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee. Welcome back, Congressman, good to have you.
REP. ADAM SMITH (D-WA): Thanks, appreciate the chance.
BREAM: So let’s start with that aid. One of your colleagues over the House GOP, Congressman Brian Mast, veteran, says that this week, the only way to make sure that this aid doesn’t end up in the hands of terrorists is to just not send it out.
Senator Tom Cotton says this on X, he says, about the aid to Gaza, at the very least President Biden should have demanded Hamas release every hostage before giving them a dollar. So, should we have used more leverage with this to get people back? And how worried are you about it falling into the wrong hands?
SMITH: Look, there’s no question that there are risks in sending aid and risks that Hamas will take advantage of it. But I would ask, you know, anyone who’s critical of this, should it really be our plan to starve two million Palestinians in Gaza? I think there’s considerable risk in doing that as well.
Look, Israel has to win the broader fight against Hamas. It is a military campaign, anyone who says there’s no military solution to this, I think the military is a huge part of it. But you also have to be able to win over the broader public and make sure the war doesn’t spread.
And if you don’t send humanitarian aid into the Palestinians, what is going to happen to the two million civilians in Gaza? They’re going to die is what’s going to happen. So getting humanitarian assistance in so this doesn’t turn into collective punishment. And something that’s going to inflame the world is a crucial part of Israel being able to actually defeat Hamas. And I wish more people understood that.
BREAM: So as all of this is playing out, the White House is sending over $106 billion supplemental request, lumping a lot of these things together Ukraine, Israel, the border, Taiwan, there were a number of senators who put together a letter to leadership this week, saying they don’t think those should be tied together, especially on top of the $113 billion that Congress has already allocated for Ukraine. They say this, these are two separate conflicts, it is wrong to leverage supportive aid to Israel in an attempt to get additional aid for Ukraine across the finish line. It would be irresponsible, and we should not risk a government shutdown by bundling these priorities together.
Would you be for separating these having the administration make the separate arguments passing them separately, if it looks like aid to Israel be — will be slowed down potentially by keeping them together?
SMITH: Yeah, it was — I think, there’s three separate points I want to make here. First of all, we have supplemental spending packages at the end of most years. And there’s always more than one issue. Sometimes disaster relief is linked with the border, sometimes there’s been a disaster overseas. And frequently those things are lumped together, depending how legislatively it plays out, first of all.
Second of all, you know, the Senate can handle it however they want to handle it, and so can the House. And if there’s a way — if there’s a path forward with a separate package, that’s fine, we can have that discussion.
Third, certainly the issues are separate. But they are also connected in the way that President Biden said in the way in which Senator McConnell just agreed. Look, Russia, China, Iran, and I would throw in North Korea, and terrorist groups like Hamas have a very clear mission. And that mission is to destroy the existing rules based international order and to weaken the U.S. and our allies, and they are working together. Iran is sending weapons to Russia. They’re part of that fight. Russia is helping Iran. So it’s wrong to say that these things are not connected.
Yes, they have separate aspects to them. And if the Senate wants to handle them separately, that’s fine. But I don’t think we should kid ourselves about how closely connected Iran, Russia, China, North Korea and groups like Hamas are.
BREAM: Well, the supplemental also has this breakout money for the border. And that’s a growing concern about whether those bad actors you all named, may use our porous border to come here and carry out attacks within the U.S. One analysis of the supplemental says there’s four times as much money for Ukraine in its border as there is for our border.
Here are some recent numbers, we just got the latest monthly encounter numbers on our southern border, nearly 270,000, that is a record high for the fiscal year were more than — more than 2.4 million. That’s also the highest number ever. And for the last three years, that record has been broken under the Biden administration. This fiscal year also marks the highest number of arrests at the southern border for people who are connected to a terror watchlist.
So with all the things you’ve laid out in these numbers here, how worried are you about a bad actor using our border? The fact that it’s completely by many assessments on both sides of the aisle, out of control to harm us here in the U.S.
SMITH: There’s no question we have a crisis on the border. There’s no doubt about that. And yes, I think we need to be focused on protecting that. And terrorism certainly one risk and the larger risks is the humanitarian crisis and the challenge of having so many people fleeing Latin America and into the U.S.
Look, the real problem is the migration problem. To some degree, it’s the same problem that Europe’s having. We have so many crises all over the world. Certainly there have been a number of Ukrainian refugees. Senator McConnell mentioned what Europe is having to do to accommodate the millions of people pouring out of Ukraine. We’re having to accommodate, you know, millions of people pouring out of Venezuela. I mean, the source of this conflict is all of the people fleeing violence, fleeing poverty in Latin America. So our comprehensive approach is definitely needed. So, yes, without question the border is part of this equation.
BREAM: Well, you have people showing up at the border and saying, I’m coming here because my understanding is that I can stay here, I can come across. And I can go to cities like Chicago, New York, other places that now say that they’re absolutely overwhelmed and can’t take any more people?
SMITH: Yeah. But again, understand the problem here. The problem is because these people can’t stay in the countries that they’re — they’re from. And that instability is driving a make migration crisis across the globe. Part of it is we got to look at, what can we do to increase stability? And — and I’ll go ahead and say something controversial here for Fox, we’ve placed massive sanctions on Venezuela.
And let me be clear, the Venezuelan economy was in the toilet long before we did that, because of Chavez and because of Maduro. But I think we’re going to ask ourselves, is an aggressive posture of sanctions, that is helping at least, to drive millions of people out of Venezuela. Is that really in the best interests of U.S. security? I think we have to reexamine policies like that as well.
BREAM: But what about the issue that we’re having, people show up at the border, who are also from China, from Iran? I mean, that’s not somebody that you don’t walk to the — to the southern border from places like that.
SMITH: Right. Well, I mean, these are people who are migrating Latin America and then working their way up from there. Yeah, I mean, the global instability is impacting a lot of countries and a lot of places. So yes, I think that has to be part of what we’re looking at also.
BREAM: OK, I want to ask about these proxy attacks we’ve been talking about in the Middle East. There are some talking very tough, I mean, Senator Lindsey Graham, he’s a vet, he’s very hawkish, he said, we have to send a warning to Iran, that if they ramp up these attacks, if they start killing hostages, any number of things that we may actually strike on Iranian soil, taking out oil, infrastructure, their industry, that kind of thing, is there any scenario for you, in which you see U.S. military assets being used, even from the skies with respect to Iran?
SMITH: Well, upfront, there’s a couple of pieces to this. One, we have to have a strong deterrent presence. And then President Biden responded quickly, to move forces to the region and to make sure that first of all our assets in Syria and Iraq in particular, are protected. And that we have that show of force that we’re in a position to deter Iran. That is crucial.
But the second piece of this, that’s really important that a number of people have emphasized, it is not good for Israel, it’s not good for U.S. And it’s not good for the world if this conflict spreads. We’ve got Hezbollah in Lebanon, we’ve got Shia militias in Syria and elsewhere. We’ve got Iran, we’ve got the — the instability on the West Bank. If this spreads, Israel is in a heck of a lot of trouble. So now, I wouldn’t be anxious about striking into Iran and starting a war with Iran as we’re going forward. I mean, that would place Israel in an incredibly perilous situation. And we’ll also risk further expansion of the war in a way that is harmful to the U.S. and to the world at large.
BREAM: Well, Congressman, as we’ve talked about before, you’ve been to many of these places and been there on the ground, you’ve got firsthand experience. So thank you for coming to share your viewpoint with us. Always good to see you.
SMITH: Thanks, Shannon. I appreciate the chance
BREAM: All right, the House, by the way, is soon going to mark three weeks without a speaker as Republicans struggle to unite behind a new leader. And there is a new twist today. We’ll discuss the path forward for the party and the top contenders with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. And last the Senate panel whether some Republicans could actually join with Democrats in some kind of temporary power sharing deal. That’s next.
BREAM: It’s been nearly three weeks since Kevin McCarthy was ousted as Speaker of the House and Republicans appear no closer to selecting his replacement. The House GOP conference voted to drop Jim Jordan on Friday. We’re going to start over at square one tomorrow.
Joining me now to game up the odds is former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. All right, good to see you, sir. What is your advice, as Republicans are increasingly taking heat on all sides about looking like they can’t govern even themselves?
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Well, right now they can’t govern. And I think that the eight people who betrayed the conference and joined the Democrats to defeat 96 percent of the conference, on least furies that I don’t think they’d even dreamed of, because they gave every person the right to be equally destructive and equally angry. And now it’s a mess.
Just a couple of observations. First, they should have stayed in. When they get back here, they should stay in, they should go into a conference, not come out, bring food in and stay there, and very simple test, can you get 217 votes? They shouldn’t bring anybody out until they have 217.
And second, that 217 has to be committed not just to elect a speaker, but to stick together for the next five or six months. They got big decisions coming down the road. There’s a very real danger that they’ll elect somebody, and three or four or five weeks from now, you’re going to have a group of people blow up and decide to go back into the same mess. So they need to pick somebody to get stability.
I frankly wish that they — and Chris (ph) and I have talked about this. I wish they had a woman candidate, of all the candidates, they’ve got running, you know, so somebody like Elise Stefanik, or Beth Van Duyne, who had been a mayor of a city before becoming a congressman, I think, in some ways, given the level of rowdiness, and the level of juvenile behavior, it’s conceivable that a female speaker will be more effective, and actually getting them all to get together and stick together. That’s the key. They have to learn to stick together.
BREAM: Well, it may get to that point. We’ve got seven now. None of the ones that you mentioned are the potential female contenders there. But do you think any of the ones who are in, or if there’s another name you can think of on the Hill, can actually get to 217? Because it seems to be if you’re if the person is too conservative, you’re going to lose the moderate. If they are too, you know, somebody that’s looking like — like Kevin McCarthy did, like that he’s going to work with Democrats on things and he’s too far to the middle, you’ve got the extreme who say, I’m a no vote forever and ever.
GINGRICH: Look, I would do a very simple test. Get them all in the same room. As I said earlier, bring food in, have an occasional bathroom break. And as — if it lasts long enough, as Boehner Daniel (ph) said, you know, how about an hour off to go shower, but otherwise stay together? And keep meeting and keep talking. And I’d work backwards. I would do a whip check and say who could possibly get to something. I don’t care who they are, they don’t have to be candidates right now, it could be the least, the most surprising person.
If they can get 217 and they can keep 217, make them speaker. They’ve tried the other technique, which is to find a personality, have them get a majority of the conference, walk onto the floor of the House and get beat.
Well, the only number that matters here is 217. If you can’t get it and keep it, remember, it’s not just one day, if you can’t keep it through the end of this year, and make very tough decisions, and have the conference and say, you know, I don’t necessarily like all of them. But it’s what we have to do to govern. You know, I wrote a book called March to the Majority, where we describe how we created a majority after 40 years, how we got reelected for the first time since 1928. How we balanced the budget for four straight years, the only time in your life. There are a lot of lessons these guys have to learn.
And right now, they’re so angry, and they’re so dysfunctional. They can’t just play rope a dope. They’ve got to start from — start from victory, who can get 217. That’s the person who wants to be speaker and trying to start from let me pick my favorite and see if they can get 217. You could be here for weeks, that — the record in 1856 was two months and 103 ballots. I would urge the House Republicans not to try to break that record.
BREAM: Well, if they’re trapped in there with their food, unlimited potty breaks, then maybe they will have time to read your book and consider that as well. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, thank you for dropping in.
GINGRICH: Thank you.
BREAM: All right, time now for our Sunday group, the Hill National Political Reporter, Julia Manchester. Juan Williams, Fox News Senior Political Analyst, former Bush White House Adviser Karl Rove. And Emily Compagno, co-host of Outnumbered on the Fox News Channel.
OK, welcome, everyone. You’re going to solve this, the four of you. This Speaker situation, I want to read something from the Wall Street Journal, an opinion piece by Kim Strassel talking about this whole thing. She calls them the mercenary caucus, the ones who are controlling the GOP. She says, “While the vast majority of the GOP conference remains focused on what’s best for party and country, a small but significant number of mercenary members intend to glory in their power.” Karl, how do you get to 217 with that in the calculus?
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Damned hard. Look, this is — this is going to be very difficult because as you heard from the former speaker, there’s a lot of anger, there’s a lot of distrust, and they — I think he’s right, they need to get together in a room. It’s going to be like a locker room at halftime and an important game and are they going to be able to come together as a team and say, you know what, we may not agree on each and every issue, we may not agree upon each and every vote, but we have somebody whom we think can lead us and we’ll get behind him, regardless of whether or not they agree 100% with us.
We have had two instances now or more of where a small group started with a Gang of Eight, the Matt Gaetz group, you got to be with us 100% of the time. We, the eight, get to dictate to the other 208, and that’s not the way it goes.
BREAM: Well, and there are worries for the GOP that they are squandering some good things that are going on for the House GOP. Look at this NBC News poll. It said the latest polling shows that Republicans have a 21-point advantage on which political party better handles the economy, 49% of registered voters for the GOP, 28% for the Democratic Party. The largest lead Republicans have held on this question in our polling dating back to 1991. Emily, are they losing good faith with the American public who listen on what they say is the most important issue the economy, they give credit to the GOP?
EMILY COMPAGNO, OUTNUMBERED CO-HOST: That’s the exact argument that the American people have the trade. Because in addition to that, we have the Democrats, have the smallest advantage just two points into what party Americans trust the most with the middle class since 1989. And yet to flush out Kim’s argument, every representative is somehow royalty. And that flies in the face as well with Gaetz’ initial argument as he blew up the House, which was, well, it’s supposed to put an end to the chaos. We have more of that right now. What has changed at all? And every single representative is now sort of adding in, well, for example, New York, Long Island’s unique tax needs. Everyone is putting themselves above the caucus. And when you throw it against that landscape, we had that edge, we had the ear of the American people and the faith, the trust for just that moment.
No unity pledge is going to unite everyone. I think I have a sort of negative view at this moment. Because wasn’t their initial oath supposed to do that, right? They were supposed to serve and represent the constituents. And when the constituents reflect that faith, this now by the way, is the contrast that Biden has been drawing since his visit to Israel where he says, look what’s going on in the House. These guys can’t get their act together, no matter who has faith in them. Look at me, meanwhile, I’m boots on the ground. I’m actually making strides, let’s see if that’s effective. But for this moment, it’s a good argument.
BREAM: Well, and that takes me back to White House spokesperson Andrew Bates who is very much talking about those exact things. He says that they have to stop their chaotic infighting and trying to out-extreme each other because look, President Biden is actually governing. And, Juan, not that they take joy in this because the country is not working right now. But you’re going to tap into the advantage to say, look, these guys are a mess. But I’m actually over here doing something.
WILLIAMS: Well, when you have Putin and Xi meeting and trying to, you know, take over the world, and you have President Biden engaged in fighting against that, then I think what’s going on, on Capitol Hill, I think all the Trump trials, I think it all becomes a sideshow. It’s not the main event.
And right now, you know, from my perspective, what you have going on is a broken political party. And America really does need two major political parties to debate issues.
But what you have here is self-promoters engaged in schoolyard bullying and feuds. And, as a result, you have a problem that’s not a little bit not atypical for Washington. Usually, it’s, oh, Juan thinks this, Karl thinks that, let them fight, and then they’ll compromise.
But here, you have a situation where it’s one party fighting kind of an intermural feud. It’s up to Republicans to solve this. I mean I guess they could say, you know what, we’ll give a few votes to Hakeem Jeffries and let him –
BREAM: I mean, they play around enough.
WILLIAMS: Right. Well, that’s what I mean. But – but we need – America – when I say “we,” Americans need a working Congress.
BREAM: They do.
All right, Julia, we have all kinds of names in the mix here. At least seven that we know of — and I think we can put them up on the screen — who have said, like, give me a shot to do this.
Who do you think, at this point, when they have this candidate forum tomorrow to discuss, can anybody of this group pull out and get the 217?
JULIA MANCHESTER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, “THE HILL”: It’s really difficult to say. You know, I think someone like Tom Emmer, for example, who is former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, he’s someone who definitely has that establishment pull with much of the conference and has a lot of, you know, ties and such.
However, when you look at these – you know, this minority of Republicans who are sort of holding everything up, that makes it difficult for someone like Tom Emmer to get through. So, it’s really difficult to see at this point who gets over this cliff because I don’t think anyone can get to 217. And I think there’s just such strong animus on both sides of this – or the multiple sides of this, that just no one can get over that.
BREAM: Well, and we’ll see if they would even discuss any kind of power- sharing agreement. I think it’s a big no for a lot of folks out there. But, in the moment, it is gridlock.
All right, panel, don’t go far. Much more to discuss, including this.
Top new polling painting a very bleak re-elected picture for President Biden, but could his handling of the war in Israel turn things around? We’ll debate, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Joe Biden is losing the election and losing very, very badly to all of us in the polls. He’s losing badly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: Well, former President Donald Trump reacting to recent polling, indicating that he would beat current President Joe Biden in a head-to-head matchup.
We’re back now with the panel to talk about this.
All right, let’s talk about this first one from CNBC on their economic survey. It says it, “finds support for President Joe Biden at nearly all- time lows and that he would lose by four points to former President Donald Trump in a head-to-head race.”
I mean, Juan, this is bad news for them. They’re also swing state polls that show the same thing, that in a head-to-head matchup it doesn’t look good. But, again, that’s if only the two of them are in.
WILLIAMS: Right. And also I think it’s October 2023 and not October 2024.
BREAM: You’d be more worried then.
WILLIAMS: Oh, yes. I – look, I think we’re at the juncture where voters are just starting to pay serious attention in terms of the presidential race. And, you know, to me, when I look at those polls, Shannon, I see that both teams are low 40s. Those are base votes. I don’t think they are votes that indicate how swing voters, who will determine the outcome next year, are going to go. And if I was saying, oh, which position would you rather be in, I would say, hmm, how can anyone look past what we discussed in the first panel, look at the chaos on Capitol Hill and say, oh, yes, it would be a great idea to put Republicans in charge. I don’t think so.
I think it’s — right now it’s more like a situation where you say, hmm, I think Ronald Reagan, I think Bill Clinton, I think Barack Obama were all behind at this point and went onto win a general election. And I think you have to take that long view as Americans begin to tune in to presidential politics.
BREAM: A lot of headshakes over there by Karl.
ROVE: Yes, look, it is going to be a close election, but President Biden starts with a burden that no other presidential candidate has ever had. CNN – CNN, August 31st, 73 percent believe that his age will — has negatively affected his physical and mental competence, 76 percent believe his age has affected his ability to serve out a second term, 28 percent say he inspires confidence, 26 percent say he had the stamina and sharpness to be president.
And we’ve seen this, not in just one poll, we’ve seen it in dozens of polls. Three-quarters of the American people think he’s too old, including 69 percent of Democrats. Now, he can go out there and speak, but he’s not going to make himself any younger. He’s not going to get more cogent. He’s not going to get more articulate. He’s not going to look more energetic. And that’s a problem for the Democrats. They’d better wake up and recognize it.
WILLIAMS: But, Karl, if he is – if he looks as he did this past week, giving a brilliant speech, out traveling to Israel, going into a war zone, putting himself at risk for the good of America and the world, his age becomes secondary. It’s like, oh, no, what, this is an experienced man —
KARL: No. No.
BREAM: All right, wait – wait –
WILLIAMS: Connections with foreign leaders –
KARL: No, look – look – look, do we have a – do we have a —
WILLIAMS: And able to lead America at a critical point.
KARL: Do we have an EMS unit arrive — around because I’m going to agree mildly with – with – with – with my friend Juan Williams.
BREAM: Oh. Oh!
KARL: Which was, it was a good speech.
KARL: But one speech does not turn these numbers around.
BREAM: You –
KARL: This is in reality the American people are dealing with. They like that his speech writer put together a good speech, but he looked old in that – in that.
WILLIAMS: Oh, no (ph).
KARL: He said the right things, but he was too old.
BREAM: All right. Well, you guys have been looking at my notes because “Politico” has this, saying, “In multiple conversations with key figures in Biden world, both on and off the record, it becomes clear they see the opportunity presented by this unexpected crisis to feature Biden’s strengths.”
MANCHESTER: Yes. Absolutely. We know that Biden looks to foreign policy as a strength, having served as vice president, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. However, one issue that I think he faces on this issue of foreign policy, particularly on Israel and Hamas, is the divide within the Democratic Party. And we see a growing divide. And also a generational divide too. You have a lot more establishment Democrats, older Democrats, who are more pro-Israel. However, you have younger, more progressive Democrats that tend to be a bit more sympathetic to the Palestinian causes and liberation.
Now, on Capitol Hill, we’re seeing this play out. Senator John Fetterman, a progressive from Pennsylvania, a swing state, is very much defending Biden, but Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian American in Congress, from Michigan, a swing state, very much not defending him on this.
So, I think, you know, this has some pluses for him, but within his own party definitely a tricky situation.
BREAM: Well, and “Wall Street Journal” had this very cogent headline saying, “Biden wanted to end forever wars.” But, Emily, “now he looks like a wartime president.”
COMPAGNO: That’s right. And he sort of fleshed out his approach, the Ukraine conflict, as well as now in Israel. And I wholeheartedly agree with what you just said. And also broadening it out to how it reflects against the American landscape.
Think about, in this speech on Thursday, when he discussed the tremendous package that he now wants supported for amongst Americans. And it was interesting, not only the bundling, but also the proportion. So, if three- quarters of Americans want — they support funding for the southern border, they support funding for Israel, and only 61 percent supports funding for Ukraine, that was totally opposite in the actual package where the majority of the funding would go to Ukraine, humanitarian aid and the like. There’s a lot of arguments where people think, well, yes, you have that experience, but you’re not drawing on it in the most intelligent, intellectually thoughtful and honest way to benefit what really requires a nuanced commander-in-chief approach right now and reflective of Americans.
BREAM: Yes. And he’ll have to do that when this gets to the hill. He’s going to have to fight that battle there.
COMPAGNO: That’s right.
BREAM: OK, panel, thank you very much. All the expertise. And no fisticuffs.
We will see you next Sunday.
Up next, you’ve seen the shocking videos of American cities, addicts passed out, empty storefronts abandoned by overwhelmed business owners who have given up trying to stop crimes, but what are the solutions?
Up next, how FOX NEWS SUNDAY is digging in for answers.
BREAM: A quick note, my podcast, “Living the Bream,” drops this morning. This week I sat down with Lee Strobel. We talked about his new book, “Is God Real?” We talked about his journey from ardent atheist to true believer.
And next week on FOX NEWS SUNDAY, you do not want to miss our special “Crime in America.” We’re going to take you all across the country to see how different communities are handling the spikes in the violence, that and open air drug use, and what prosecutors are, and in many cases are not, doing to put a stop to it. We’ve bot experts, including former law enforcement officers, prosecutors and local officials who are trying to get a handle on things. We’re going to be joined by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, who made headlines recently for switching political parties, he says in part because of his frustration with what he’s calling liberal policies that are hurting cities like his. It is all next Sunday. I hope you’ll join us.
Thank you for joining us today. I’m Shannon Bream. Have a great week. We’ll see you next FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
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