STEVE INSKEEP, host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
Here are a couple of events on President Bush's calendar today. He meets with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders ahead of this week's Mideast conference, separately. Later, Mr. Bush will be in the same room with the man he defeated to become president. Al Gore will be at a gathering of Nobel Prize winners honored at the White House. That get-together comes at a time when the competition to succeed President Bush is moving in to high gear.
Joining us now is NPR news analyst Cokie Roberts. Good morning.
COKIE ROBERTS: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Let's start, of course, with the meeting of George W. Bush and Al Gore at the White House.
ROBERTS: Well, these are both very well brought-up men, both good mothers, so you have every reason to expect that they will be courteous to each other. But, you know, actually there is a wonderful tradition in this country of the defeated and the victor eventually coming together.
When Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated and John Adams snuck out of town on a carriage in the morning before the inauguration, that is something that's gone down in history as a black mark on John Adams. And since then, the defeated shows up at the inauguration. And then in recent years, we've had presidents working together - Clinton and Bush, Ford and Carter. So it's possible that these two men could come together at some point. I don't think that'll happen today.
MONTAGNE: Okay. So we'll turn on to sort of the more breaking aspect of presidential politics. The Republican presidential candidates have another debate on Wednesday. Is this likely to be a Mitt Romney/Rudy Giuliani one-on-one?
ROBERTS: Well, they certainly aren't going after each other. But there are a lot of other people going after each other among these Republican candidates as well. Giuliani and Romney have gone after each other's health care programs. Romney is saying Giuliani is pro-choice, like Hillary Rodham Clinton; favors civil unions, like Hillary Rodham Clinton; favors sanctuary cities, like Hillary Rodham Clinton; then has a record of ethical conduct that reminds us of the administration Hillary Clinton was part of. So he is really out there.
Fred Thompson attacks Giuliani on guns. Giuliani says he - that Thompson has no record. Giuliani is going after Romney on crime. And it's because it's a very close contest with Iowa just a few weeks away now. And Mike Huckabee acting as something of a wildcard here.
MONTAGNE: And Mike Huckabee, of course, who's shot up in the polls, but does he seem like someone who's in there for the long haul?
ROBERTS: Well, you know, it's really interesting, Renee. His poll numbers are very high among previous caucus goers in Iowa. Those are the people you can most count on to show up at a caucus. And if he does very well in Iowa, and New Hampshire sort of leaves things up in the air, and then they go on to South Carolina.
Our colleague Linda Wertheimer has found South Carolina Republican voters very favorable to Mike Huckabee. So I think he is somebody that they now have to take seriously on the Republican side. And as a result, you're beginning to see attacks against him.
Today, conservative columnist Robert Novak has a column saying Huckabee's not a true conservative. You'll likely to see a lot more of that now.
MONTAGNE: And on the Democratic side, the two frontrunners have been going at each other. Does either Senator Barack Obama or Senator Hillary Clinton seem to be scoring knockouts?
ROBERTS: No. But they certainly are going after each other again on health care. And Senator Clinton keeps talking about her experience and electability with Senator Obama talking about the fact that he is an agent for change. But Senator Clinton will have former President Clinton campaigning for her this week. So clearly, she is pulling out the big gun because there is concern in that campaign. And they are ramping up. We are really now into the home stretch.
MONTAGNE: Thanks very much. NPR news analyst Cokie Roberts.