BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Twenty-five minutes now before the hour.
Is the White House now making diplomatic overtures to Iran, and if so, is this the right strategy?
From Las Vegas, today, democratic consultant, Victor Kamber, who is out in Vegas.
Victor, good morning to you there.
VICTOR KAMBER, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: Good morning, Bill.
HEMMER: Also, in Washington, Cliff May, former RNC communications director, now with the Foundation for the Defense of the Democracies.
Cliff, good morning to you, as well.
CLIFF MAY, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Good morning.
HEMMER: I don't know if you saw the front page of the "Washington Post" this morning talking about an overtures to Tehran to, perhaps, invite Tehran into the World Trade Organization.
Is this the right strategy for negotiating with Tehran today?
KAMBER: Who are you asking, Bill?
HEMMER: I'm sorry. It's Cliff first.
MAY: Yes, look, there are no good options were Iran is concerned, only less bad options.
For 25 years, this regime has been sponsoring terrorism and inciting hatred against the United States. The most important thing is that the Mullahs do not get nuclear weapons.
I have nothing against letting them into the World Trade Organization if that's a way that we can do it. But in addition to offering carrots, we better have some sticks prepared, too.
HEMMER: Victor, he says no bad options. Do you agree?
KAMBER: Well, my problem is that this schizophrenic nature of the Bush administration.
We were told this one of axis of evils. And it would seem to me you isolate an evil. You, you know, you cut this cancer out, the sore out. On the other hand, I'm not looking for another war.
I do believe in diplomacy, so I'd like to understand really what it is about Iran before we start giving incentives to them.
HEMMER: It got our attention this morning.
MAY: Let me...
HEMMER: Yes, go ahead, Cliff, quickly.
MAY: Well, I'll tell you what it is about Iran. The people of Iran are more pro-American than probably the people of anywhere else in the broader Middle East. The people of Iran, we know, don't want these Mullahs continuing to destroy their country as they have for the past 25 years.
Our goal has to be to get the Mullahs back in the mosques, to get democracy going there, and to make sure that there aren't nuclear weapons in Iran because they'll leak out of Iran.
HEMMER: Iran is our first topic, Russia is our second topic.
Victor, to you now. John McCain over the weekend on a talk show said Vladimir Putin is behaving somewhat like a spoiled child.
He talked about repressing free press. He talked about interfering in elections in Ukraine. And also, there was a suggestion to kick Russia out of the Group of 8.
Do you agree with John McCain, that he says Vladimir Putin right now is a spoiled child?
KAMBER: Well, again -- and I'm not one here to sit and defend George Bush. I mean, it was McCain and Cliff that helped get Bush into office.
Just a week ago, Bush was saying some of the same things about the premier. And then he goes to meet with him, and he says gee, this man talks the truth. Mr. Putin, whenever he says something, it's something you can believe.
You know, one, we don't kick them out unilaterally. I think we need to deal with our allies. We need to figure out what works best in terms of how to deal with Russia.
I do think that Russia is not totally to be trusted, but I'm not sure our president is total to be trusted from what he says. And John McCain helped put him there.
HEMMER: "MEET THE PRESS" yesterday, William Safire -- Cliff, jump on this. He said that Bush blanked when he met with Vladimir Putin. Do you agree?
MAY: You know, I'm not sure that's true, although I understand what he is saying. Look, I think in private, Bush was probably pretty tough with Putin, saying how disappointed he was. At the press conference, Bush was careful to keep the focus, the entire time, on Russia's retreat from democracy. He did it diplomatically.
But I do think that John McCain -- and by the way, Joe Lieberman -- are correct in saying that if Putin continues in the direction he is going, away from democracy, away from freedom, and by the way, giving technology and fuel to the Iranians to make nuclear weapons, we've got to do something about it.
The one thing is to be honest.
KAMBER: That's not what Bush said.
MAY: He doesn't belong in the club of democratic nations.
KAMBER: That's not what Bush said. Bush, on democracy, said Putin is going in the right direction because he gave me his word. And he gave him his word on the nuclear, that he would not arm Iran. And Bush accepted it.
What you are talking about there was wishful thinking on Bush's part.
KAMBER: That may be.
MAY: It's was called diplomacy.
KAMBER: That's your president.
MAY: It was diplomacy.
KAMBER: That's your president. That's right.
HEMMER: We will see...
MAY: You know what, it's both of our...
HEMMER: We will see, gentlemen...
MAY: Victor, it's both of our president...
KAMBER: I understand it's both of our president.
MAY: I'm saying that John McCain...
KAMBER: I just didn't help him get there.
MAY: I'm saying John McCain and Joe Lieberman, as a Democrat like you are, are right when they say they have got to be sticks as well as carrots. Victor, you only want to use carrots with all of these dictators....
HEMMER: And we will see, ultimately, if something was said in private that was not spoken in public.
Gentlemen, thanks to both of you.
MAY: Thank you.
KAMBER: Thank you.
HEMMER: And I will remember your names next time. Clifford May, Victor Kamber -- see you guys. Enjoy Vegas.
KAMBER: See you, Bill.
HEMMER: Bye, bye.