This Week Guest Duncan Hunter Reminds Viewers of Host's Past, Cites “Former Boss”

It's not often that a guest on a TV news program has the boldness to put the interviewer's political activism record in play, but Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter of California, who appeared on Sunday's This Week from San Diego to criticize the ports deal, made sure viewers were reminded of host George Stephanopoulos' past work on behalf of President Bill Clinton's agenda. On three occasions, Hunter answered questions from Stephanopoulos by including a reference to “your former boss,” as in how “your former boss, President Clinton,” gave the Emir of the United Arab Emirates “advice on who he should hire to get this deal through.” Hunter, who appeared with a Republican Senator from the other side of the nation, Susan Collins of Maine, also proposed: “I don't think President Clinton, your old boss, knows the facts of the transshipments that take place through Dubai, sending nuclear components to all parts of the world and especially to people who don't like America.” That slam prompted a defensive Stephanopoulos to jump in: “He actually supports the legislation proposed by you and Senator Clinton which would ban foreign entities from managing our ports." A bit later, when Stephanopoulos wondered if the ports deal would hurt Republicans in the fall election, Hunter came back with how “a few years ago when the Chinese military tried to buy the old naval base in Long Beach, California, we stopped that and that was stopped by Republicans in Congress, even though your boss, President Clinton, supported that.” (Transcripts follow.)

From the March 5 This Week with George Stephanopoulos on ABC, we join Congressman Duncan Hunter in mid-answer:
“....Back to this point of how much information is known by people, in our hearings just two days ago, your former boss, President Clinton, was referred to by the President of the ports deal as having made a phone call to the Emir of Dubai, to the leader of Dubai, who is the sole stockholder and the director of this company and President Clinton gave him advice on who he should hire to get this deal through. I don't think President Clinton, your old boss, knows the facts of the transshipments that take place through Dubai, sending nuclear components to all parts of the world and especially to people who don't like America.”

A defensive George Stephanopoulos jumped in: “Let me just say one thing, the President's office did put out a statement where in that statement the President said that he actually supports the legislation proposed by you and Senator Clinton which would ban foreign entities from managing our ports.”
An exchange a bit later in the session:
Stephanopoulos: “Are you worried that this issue, because the President is going in the other direction, is going to hurt your party in the mid-term elections?”

Hunter: “You know, I don't think it's going to hurt our party, George, because a few years ago when the Chinese military tried to buy the old naval base in Long Beach, California, we stopped that and that was stopped by Republicans in Congress, even though your boss, President Clinton, supported that. So, I think the Republicans in Congress have a good record for security and have a good record on this type of an issue....”

Later, during the roundtable segment, George Will followed Hunter's lead. In commenting on how public reaction to the ports deal symbolizes growing isolationism around the world, Will tied his point back to Stephanopoulos's “former boss”:

“....The French have decided to define strategic industries and they're including casinos, by the way, which means they're putting up a wall all over the place. Your former boss, Mr. Clinton, was never better than when he stood up for NAFTA against his own party.”

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center