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CNBC Digital Video Exclusive: Pat Buchanan Sits Down With CNBC’s Chief Washington Correspondent John Harwood

When: Today, Thursday, August 6

Where: CNBC.com's Speakeasy with John Harwood: http://www.cnbc.com/2015/08/06/buchanans-debate-advice-to-jeb-make-it-bush-v-trump.html

After serving pugnaciously in two White Houses, hosting Crossfire on television, and running for president twice, Pat Buchanan knows as much about political debate as anyone. That makes the 76-year-old conservative ideally positioned to break down the challenges facing the 2016 Republican candidates for the White House in Cleveland tonight. John Harwood sat down with Buchanan over dinner at a McLean, Virginia steakhouse to run through the imperatives facing the sprawling field of 17 candidates, which will be divided into two separate debates.

A partial transcript from Speakeasy with John Harwood featuring Pat Buchanan follows. All references must be sourced to CNBC.com:

HARWOOD: You love political argument, don't you?

BUCHANAN: Yeah, well-- yes, I do.

HARWOOD: Between your work in the Nixon and Reagan White Houses, between your work on Crossfire, between your two presidential campaigns, I don't think anybody's debated more than Pat Buchanan. What was your game-day routine?

BUCHANAN: You know I didn't do a great deal of preparation. Standing up there it's tough.

HARWOOD: Well, so, tell me what it's gonna be like for these candidates. There's gonna be ten.

BUCHANAN: There's gonna be ten. And they gotta think of how to distinguish themselves. It depends on which candidate you're talking about.

Now if I were Trump. He's a counterpuncher. He's gonna have to take each of these things where he's been hit. And I think havin' a substantive-- a short, substantive answer.

If I were Bush, I would challenge Trump directly and politely. I would certainly be ready. I would be ready for the-- if you will, the sucker punch comin.'

(ON SCOTT WALKER) - I think he's gotta show a measure of gravitas, and also of communication skills in a debate.

(ON CHRIS CHRISTIE) - He's got a tough assignment. I mean, Trump has become the uber-tough guy.

Rand Paul might come out again as sort of an anti-interventionist against these wars in the Middle East. If I were him, I would distinguish myself that way to try to get back into the mix.

(ON MARCO RUBIO) - The perception of him is a certain callowness and youthfulness. I think he's gotta deal with his own problems rather than the Trump problem.

HARWOOD: Ted Cruz. What does he do?

BUCHANAN: I think he does Ted Cruz. I think he goes after the Senate Majority Leader. No, I do think that's him. I think Cruz is one guy that does have potential.

HARWOOD: Do you think lines like "March to the oven," is that good stuff?

BUCHANAN: That's a calculated decision on his part. And I think it probably in a way, it's gonna help Huckabee.

HARWOOD: Would you repeat it on this debate stage?

BUCHANAN: Well, I don't agree with his position. From Huckabee's standpoint, I would not apologize for it all and I would, I would embellish upon it.

HARWOOD: How do you figure out the right balance between hot and cold, between passion and toughness?

BUCHANAN: I think you treat everybody with respect. You can go and be tough and get into an exchange, people like that.

HARWOOD: Trump doesn't seem to be-- very enamored of treating people with respect.

BUCHANAN: Well, you don't—

HARWOOD: "Not too smart, dummy."

BUCHANAN: Well, that's because they all-- they've all attacked him. You know, they called him a lotta names. And then, people are waitin' for him to respond. And, so, he backhands 'em.

HARWOOD: If any of the candidates, especially the less experienced ones came to you and said, "Is there anything I should not do?"

BUCHANAN: You don't wanna come off as-- as wounded and striking back. Look, if you've been clipped and you draw—

HARWOOD: If-- if you gotta punch, you don't look-- you don't show them--

BUCHANAN: If you gotta-- you wanna smile--you (LAUGH) smile. You don't see-- you smile. Exactly. You smile as though, you know, you weren't affected by it. It might be a funny line. And you laugh with it.

HARWOOD: Now, we got 17 Republican candidates so far. Jim Gilmore just got in. Now, if he's getting in the race, Pat Buchanan can't be far behind.

BUCHANAN: The spirit is willing but the--the flesh is very weak, John.

HARWOOD: Pat, thanks for comin' out and doin' this.

BUCHANAN: Delighted. Enjoyed it.

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