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Transcript: Connecticut Senate Candidate Ned Lamont on 'FNS'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published August 14, 2006 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a partial transcript of the Aug. 13, 2006, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":
"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST CHRIS WALLACE: When the political dust settled late Tuesday in Connecticut, Joe Lieberman was out as the Democrat Senate nominee and our next guest was in. With us now for his first live Sunday talk show interview ever is Ned Lamont.
Mr. Lamont, welcome to "FOX News Sunday" and congratulations on your victory this week.
CONNECTICUT SENATE CANDIDATE NED LAMONT: Thank you, Chris. Delighted to be here.
WALLACE: After the primary this week, Vice President Cheney said that your victory as an antiwar candidate encourages the Al Qaeda types. And Joe Lieberman picked up on that same theme after word of a terror plot in England. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
U.S. SENATOR JOSEPH LIEBERMAN, D-CONN.: If we just pick up as Ned Lamont wants us to do and get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes and this plot hatched in England.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Mr. Lamont, does your victory show that at least some Americans are weakening in their will to fight the War on Terror?
LAMONT: No, I think on the contrary. What this election showed is that a lot of people in Connecticut think that the invasion of Iraq has nothing to do with our War on Terror. It's been a terrible distraction.
Here you are talking about the failed terrorist plot today. It originated in Pakistan, goes through London, and here we have 132,000 of our bravest troops stuck in the middle of a civil war in Iraq.
I think it was that disconnect that a lot of people focused on in Connecticut.
WALLACE: When Vice President Cheney said that your victory encourages the Al Qaeda types, did you find that offensive?
LAMONT: Yeah, I did find that offensive. I find that terribly harsh and wrong. Look, what's going to — what we ought to be doing is fighting the War on Terror in a serious way. I think we've gotten a little bit complacent, to tell you the truth. Maybe we've had a wake-up call in the last couple of days.
We ought to be focused on homeland security. We ought to be focused on our ports, on our airports and public transportation, a lot of which you were talking about here today.
We also are much stronger when we work in concert with our allies, when we have shared intelligence. And I think that we've taken our eye off the ball there a little bit, and I think it's time to focus.
WALLACE: Let's talk, though, about some of the weapons that President Bush authorized after 9/11 to fight the war on terror.
You say that the NSA warrantless wiretaps are illegal. You've called for President Bush to be censured because he allegedly broke the law. You also have been very critical of the Patriot Act.
Now that we've had word of the terror plots — and we know as we've been discussing today that Britain already has a lot of laws, legal tools that we don't — would you really take away some of the weapons we have now to fight terror?
LAMONT: No, it's not a question of taking away any laws. It's a question of having a president of the United States who follows the law. And if he wants to change some of the laws, if he thinks the FISA rulings were too slow and he needed some help, go back to Congress and change the laws, but don't do it unilaterally.
What I objected to was the fact that we had a president and some of his team that thought they were above the law, and then they said we'll fix the laws after the fact. I thought that was wrong.
WALLACE: You've also been critical of the Patriot Act. Are there some elements of that that you wish had not been passed?
LAMONT: Look, when it comes to the Patriot Act, again, I think it ought to be tightly drawn to respect our civil liberties but also give the American intelligence community all the tools they need to fight the War on Terror. And I think it's a careful balance we have to have there.
WALLACE: Is there any specific measure in the Patriot Act that's in there now that you would like to see taken out?
LAMONT: Well, certainly, there's been an awful lot of talk about going after librarians and seeing what books that, you know, Chris Wallace's kids are taking out and not taking out. That seemed to be casting a net a little too wide, that jeopardizes some of our liberties, sure.
WALLACE: Of course, your big issue is your opposition to the war in Iraq, and you've pointed it out again today. You think that it's a distraction from the War on Terror.
Last week you were asked the following, and let's put it up on the screen, what would you do right now if you were in the Senate about Iraq? Your answer, "I would have supported, you know, the Kerry-Feingold amendment which calls for pulling out all U.S. troops out of Iraq by next July.
Mr. Lamont, what do you think happens to Iraqis who trusted us to protect them from the insurgents? What do you think happens with all the sectarian violence if we pull all of our troops out in less than a year?
LAMONT: Look what's happening now. We've been there three years. We've gone from greeted as liberators to just a few dead-enders to some sectarian violence to civil war. You know, unlike Senator Lieberman, unlike President Bush, I think we've got to look at the facts on the ground.
Things are getting worse, and our very visible front-line presence is making the situation worse in many ways. So let's be clear with the Maliki government. Let's say we have no permanent intentions upon your military bases. We're going to not be here on a permanent basis. It's not unconditional. We're going to start bringing our troops home, and we ought to have them home within a year.
I think that's reasonable, gives them time, their 200,000 troops to step up. But it's a basic message. I mean, President Bush says we'll stand down as soon as the Iraqis stand up. I turn that on its head. I think the Iraqis won't stand up until we stand down.
So let's negotiate a phased withdrawal. Chris, we'll be there. We'll be there for humanitarian support. We'll be there for reconstruction. But now's the time to get the very American face off of this perceived occupation.
WALLACE: But the prime minister, al-Maliki, was here just recently and said we need U.S. troops to continue to be there. What if you're wrong, Mr. Lamont, Senator Lamont? What if you're wrong? You vote for this, to get them out, and there's a blood bath?
LAMONT: There is a blood bath. What if it keeps getting worse? What if it gets even worse? No, I don't think I want to have 132,000 troops back in the middle of a civil war. I think only the Iraqis will be able to solve this for themselves.
We'll be there for support. We've got our troops in Kuwait. We have our maritime presence. We'll make sure that Iran and others don't come in to create any mischief. But I think the big difference between the president and I, the senator and I, is I think it's now time for the Iraqis to step up and take control of their own destiny.
WALLACE: So under all circumstances, all troops out by next July.
LAMONT: I don't know about all circumstances whatever. But right now I think our policy ought to be let's be clear with the Maliki government. We're going to have our troops out within a year. We'll be there for reconstruction, training, everything else in the background. But yes, I think let's set the record straight.
WALLACE: This week you even linked the war in Iraq to what's going on in Israel. Take a look at this, if you will.
WALLACE: This is what you had to say. "Hezbollah has been emboldened. They're attacking Israel. I think you can just look around the Middle East right now and you can see just the many factors of how this invasion of Iraq was a disaster."
Mr. Lamont, here's a brief history of Hezbollah, and let's put it up. In 1983, they bombed the U.S. embassy and the Marine barracks, killing 258 Americans.
In 1996, they helped the Iranians blow up the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 servicemen.
They have been at war with Israel for a quarter century. Can you really blame Hezbollah on the war in Iraq?
LAMONT: I'd say the war in Iraq has emboldened Iran. An emboldened Iran doesn't have its historical enemy, Iraq, right there, makes Israel more vulnerable. Iran, Syria, Hezbollah — there is a nexus there.
Yes, I think we've destabilized the Middle East and we've done nothing for Israel's security because of this.
WALLACE: And you think that this Hezbollah attack — you can link it to the fact that we're in Iraq?
LAMONT: Well, what I said was our invasion of Iraq has done nothing for Israel's security and has emboldened Iran. Absolutely.
WALLACE: Let's do a lightning round, because for a lot of people this is the first time that they have ever met and heard Ned Lamont. So let's do a series of quick questions and quick answers to get a sense of who you are and what you stand for.
You're for immigration reform. Would you include a path to legalized citizenship?
LAMONT: I'd certainly include a path to legal status. Look, I teach classes at a high school in Bridgeport, and I can tell you an awful lot of these kids just weren't fortunate enough to be born in this country. They're not going to jump ahead of anybody in line.
They're going to earn their way to a legal status. But we're not going to ship 11 million people home.
WALLACE: You're for energy independence. Let's talk about some of the components of that. Drilling in ANWR?
LAMONT: I oppose that. I just think it's a false choice. That's going to buy us a few months, six months. Doesn't get the job done.
WALLACE: Wind turbines in Nantucket sound?
LAMONT: Look, I don't think it's for the federal government to pick and choose which of these renewable energy sources is going to be the winner, which is going to be the loser.
I can tell you at $75 a barrel, a lot of these things are economical right now. And I think the free market's going to go there. And I think the federal government ought to have a crash course when it comes to real research in terms of making progress.
WALLACE: Is there any issue that you can identify right now where you break with liberal democrats?
LAMONT: I'm a strong fiscal conservative. I think we've got to live within our bounds. I don't know whether that breaks with liberal Democrats or not, but I can tell you there's nothing conservative about this administration — you know, $9 trillion in debt.
You know, we're borrowing from our kids. We're mortgaging their future instead of investing in their future. I feel strong about that. I'm a business guy. That's what we believe.
WALLACE: Let's talk a little politics as well. There's a new poll out today, the first since the primary, and let's put it on the screen. It shows Lieberman at 46 percent, you at 41 percent, and the Republican candidate, Alan Schlesinger, at 6 percent.
Given those numbers, would you agree that Joe Lieberman is a legitimate candidate and not a spoiler in this race?
LAMONT: Well, look, I don't spend too much time on polls. As you may know, I started out as less than an asterisk about six months ago, and here we are virtually in a dead heat with a three-term incumbent.
Look, I played by the rules of the primary. The primary said I'm going to endorse the winner of this primary, we're going to go forward united. You know, Senator Lieberman had a different choice. He said I'm going to start up my own party and jump-start this again.
Is he playing the role of a spoiler? I wouldn't go that far. But I would say I wish he'd reconsider what he wants to do. I think it's important that we have a unified front going forward.
WALLACE: The fact is you think he's going to drop out because he doesn't have enough money, correct?
LAMONT: No, I can't read Senator Lieberman's mind, obviously, and I have no idea what he's going to do. I can tell you there are an awful lot of people asking him to reconsider.
WALLACE: Do you think that Joe Lieberman is a true independent candidate or do you think that he now, in effect, is the candidate for the Republicans in the White House?
LAMONT: I know he's getting an awful lot of Republican support. You know, you mentioned Vice President Cheney's attack. That was, you know, mimicked by Senator Lieberman soon thereafter. So I do sense there's a little bit of coordination going on there.
But I'll take him at his word. He says he's going to run as an independent.
WALLACE: Mr. Lamont, we're going to have to leave it there. We want to thank you so much for coming by this morning, and we'll see you along the campaign trail.
LAMONT: Nice to see you, Chris. Thanks.
This week: We'll have an exclusive interview with Sen James Lankford (R-OK), member of the Appropriations, Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees.