The Dems: Done or Just Begun?

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, June 25, 2003  that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order a transcript of the entire show.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: There's an Associated Press story out today that the Bush administration was slow to approve armed drones to kill bin Laden. And after being told of the Predator drones (search) and they spotted bin Laden three times, in spite of being briefed by Richard Clark, the terrorism advisor of the White House, both in the early part of this administration and the Clinton administration, that the Bush administration did not act on it.

Do you think there's culpability there for not doing something sooner?

SEN. TOM DASCHLE, D-S.D.: Alan, we don't know but it goes to the point that many of us have been making now for a couple of weeks.

Senator Warner called for a full and thorough investigation. I think that there ought be an investigation into all of these issues, and I think that's the only way we're going to find the right answer. It's premature to jump to any conclusions but I do think the American people have the right to know.

COLMES: An investigation into what, specifically? What the Bush administration knew, what they did, intelligence investigation, on what level are you talking about?

DASCHLE: All of the above. The more we know, I think the better we're going to be in making decisions in the future, especially as we consider the use of force, as we consider the use of weaponry in cases like this.

Regardless of what question we're facing, if we can base our decision on past experience, mistakes as well as successes, I think we're going be a lot better off. We can't do that, either at the congressional level or within the administration, if we don't have the facts. Getting the facts is what it ought to be all about. And I'm hopeful that the administration will agree with us on that point.

COLMES: Let's talk about the issues before the House and Senate right now. Has the Bush administration stolen the Democratic view of Medicare (search)? They triangulate it and taken that issue away from the Democrats given the bill that's being debated now?

DASCHLE:  Not at all. If we pass anything, it's only going to be because we've had Republican and Democratic support. Obviously, there is a great deal of difference with regard to what we might do. This isn't a bill I would write. But I believe it's a start, albeit very shaky.

All we can do is to take what we can get now and try to build on it in the future. I guarantee you, the American people and especially senior citizens when they see what this bill does are going to demand Congress improve it, fix it, and the Democrats are going to lead the way as we always have with regard to prescription drugs.

COLMES: Republicans are saying because of Medicare, they can't make an agreement now between the House and the Senate to increase the child tax credit for 6.5 million low income families because the Medicare costs will not permit them to do that right now.

DASCHLE: I find that absolutely amazing. We've got $3 trillion that we can provide in tax cuts, including $90,000 this year for most millionaires, Alan, and they say we don't have enough money to help people whose incomes fall below $26,000? They can't find a $400 check for a working family whose income is $25,000? Give me a break.

That just cannot be. And I can't believe anybody would make that assertion.

COLMES: Was the Bush administration lying when they said this was a tax plan that gives a tax break to every American?

DASCHLE: Well, obviously there is a large segment of the population that will not get a tax break. But there's a real credibility gaffe here when it comes to their assertions and the real facts.

COLMES: I want to talk to you about the relationship between you and the White House as it pertains to potential nominees for the Supreme Court.

You've asked for consultation. There's a chance we're hearing now that one or two Supreme Court justices may resign? And has there been a respond? Will there be a dialogue between the Senate and the White House on this?

DASCHLE: We got a letter from Mr. Gonzalez the other day from the White House indicating that he'd be happy to talk to us. Obviously there has been consultation. In fact, Senator Hatch indicated to me just the other day that he was consulted vigorously by the Clinton administration and it sounded like he took some credit for the nominees that were ultimately provided to the Congress with regard to the Supreme Court.

So if it works for the Clinton administration, you would hope it could work for the Bush administration, as well.

We simply want to avoid the contentious, extraordinarily confrontational fight that could occur if we don't have consultation before, instead of after the nomination.

COLMES: Would you be against any nominee that's not pro-choice on abortion?

DASCHLE: I'm going to look at the issues. I don't think that you can make a decision based on just one issue. That's a very, very important matter to many people in this country, especially women. So clearly, that's going to be a significant factor.

COLMES: Will there be a litmus test? I mean, often litmus tests are discussed. And one side will say, well, the person has to be anti-choice, Democrats are saying must be pro choice. Will there be those kind of litmus tests for whoever the nominee is?

DASCHLE: Well, of course, every senator makes up his or her own mind. My view is that what we want is somebody from the main stream, somebody who recognizes the importance of all of these issues, recognizes the priority of women's rights, equal rights, the kind of precedents that we've already established over the course of the last several decades. They need to be protected. We've made great social progress. We need to continue to do so. We hope we can have people on that court who recognize that progress.

COLMES: You mentioned Alberto Gonzalez (search), White House counsel, and his name is floated as a potential nominee. Would he be a good choice?

DASCHLE: I'm not going to comment on any perspective nominee, Alan, because it's premature. But clearly, we hope and we expect that we will work with the administration as these nominations become more a possibility.

COLMES: Will President Bush be re-elected?

DASCHLE: Not if we have anything to do about it. We think we've got some excellent candidates and I think the way things are going right now, we have a real good chance to have someone in the White House in 2004?

COLMES: Any predictions.

DASCHLE: None yet. Other than we'll win.

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