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From Special Report with Bret BaierFriday, August 17, 2012

On the impact of Paul Ryan’s pick and the Medicare debate:

Look, it’s had two effects. One is the effect it’s had on Romney — although all we speak about is Ryan. But it changes people’s image of Romney…. He went to the bold choice and he went for the big debate. Everybody assumed he would stick to just attacking Obama on stewardship. It looked as if he wasn’t gaining a lot in that….

So what he did is injected a tremendous amount of energy and also youth. I think that sort of image of the two of them helps. Especially considering how the number two on the other side [Vice President Biden] has done this week, who looks like a bumbling old uncle in the attic.

The second issue, apart from how it affected the image of Romney, is the substance. It brought Obamacare in to the election. It wasn’t only Medicare. That is a great irony — it [the attack on Obamacare] went through Medicare.

But Romney was not in a position to argue about Obamacare because of Massachusetts and because — all we spoke about for months and months — of the [individual] mandate and the Supreme Court decision and all of that in which Obamacare [and] Romneycare are similar.

On the issue of raiding Medicare, that’s a winner for Republicans and one reason that Obama has not spoken about Obamacare. It’s way down in the polls. And by injecting it, it really puts, in terms of substance, the Democrats on the defensive.

One the timing of a possible Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program:

This is serious talk. There is a lot of opposition within Israel — [and] there is a lot of support within Israel. It’s a real debate. It’s not a bluff, it isn’t a put-on. They are trying to decide, as the window is closing.

There is one extra new factor which is the main threat to Israel, if it attacks [Iran], would be retaliation, not from Iran, but from Hezbollah in Lebanon which has 50,000 rockets and could set Israel on fire. [Israel] worries about that above all else.

However, Hezbollah right now is on the losing side of the civil war in Syria — supporting Assad. It’s losing support within Lebanon. So it’s worried and preoccupied and it knows that if it launches a war against Israel on orders of Iran — [Hezbollah's attack] having nothing to do with Lebanon itself — and Lebanon suffers retaliation, as it surely will, it [Hezbollah] could lose everything in Lebanon.

So it [Hezbollah] has a disincentive to attack [Israel], and because of that, the Israeli calculation [about attacking Iran] is slightly more positive…

I think the odds of an attack before Election Day are probably more than half, maybe three to one.

On the winner and loser of the week:

Obviously Paul Ryan [is the winner of the week], but not just because he was chosen but [because] he showed instantly how he could change the debate in the country and make Medicare a winning issue for Republicans.

Loser: unfortunately, Joe Biden. His remark in Danville about chains — there are two responses you can have. Governor Wilder found it condescending and offensive, which I think it was. The other response is the one that laughs it off because he is a clown.

But that raises the issue of fitness for office if you’re a heartbeat away.



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