From last night’s Special Report with Brit Hume:
—On te White House—
HUME: Washington is alive with talk that the father who’s been in the background of this presidency is now directly or indirectly asserting himself and his people are coming in to save the son’s presidency.
FRED BARNES: . . . I think the Bush 41 theory is a lot of hokum. [Bush 41] didn’t even learn of the appointment or the nomination of Bob Gates as the new defense secretary until the day it was announced . . . And my understanding is also that the instructions that were given to Bob Gates when he visited with President Bush a week ago Sunday, down in Texas, about his appointment was look, the strategy is not changing. If you buy that, fine. I’d like to have you as defense secretary.
. . . In other words, that this is not a bringing in Gates and listening to this Iraq Study Group . . . that [this] is not a way for Bush to pull off disguised retreat that many people think that that’s what this is about.
MORT KONDRACKE: I think [Giuliani’s] got a shot. I wouldn’t say he’s favored by any means — I think McCain is favored.
BARNES: I think he has a good shot. I think, look, who draws the big crowds? I mean, he campaigned for everybody, so did McCain, so did Romney they were campaigning for Republican candidates all over the country. All I heard was . . . Giuliani was getting the big crowds, particularly in the South, where supposedly his social views, which are very liberal, would cause him trouble. . . . If they’re looking for some guy who’s a proven leader and someone who stood up during a crisis like 9/11, well then you have Giuliani.
HUME: How big a problem would Mitt Romney’s Mormonism be with that element of the Republican base?
KONDRACKE: Look, Richard Land who’s with the Southern Baptist Convention said all Mitt Romney has to do is have a Houston Council of Ministers session like John F. Kennedy did so explain that his Catholicism was not going to govern in his presidency and he does the same thing with the — a large Evangelical audience and he can get over this in the situation that they’re going to be tolerant of him.
MARA LIASSON: I think Romney has been, by all accounts, running an excellent campaign. He’s been out there, he’s developing all kinds of infrastructure that Giuliani is only now just beginning to do and he has a policy achievement under his belt, health care and he’s an executive . . .