Rolling Out The Red Carpet?

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, November 18, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: President Bush (search) crossed the pond today and arrived in London, where he was welcomed by Prince Charles (search). The president's three-day visit includes a visit to Buckingham Palace and a stop in Tony Blair's hometown.

But overshadowing the pleasantries is a planned anti-war protest tomorrow, rumored to be 100,000 people strong. So are the Brits with us or is too much being made of a vocal minority?

Joining us now is the co-director of Empower America, Bill Bennett.

Dr. Bennett, it's not just -- Tony Blair (search) and President Bush may be good friends, but Tony Blair is losing popularity in Britain and has ever since he sided with President Bush on the Iraq war. So his political future, tying it to Bush may not be the best political move for him and his future.

BILL BENNETT, EMPOWER AMERICA: Well, we'll see. If I could just say, you know, Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson, a perverse Santa Claus, I'm not always a breath of fresh air, guys, but I'll tell you I'm delighted to be going another place tonight, to London.

COLMES: Let's talk about Tony Blair, then. Let's talk about how his popularity has waned.

BENNETT: Sure. Of course. He is under fire in London. He's got a lot of critics. But you know, this is a stand-up guy. He stood up before with the United States and stood up with George Bush. And he'll do it again.

But, you know, I was looking at those numbers, Alan, and those numbers of support for the U.S., number of people in the England who think the United States is a great country is at 62 percent. Number of people who think -- percentage of people who think U.S. is a bad country, 10 or 15 percent. People in favor of the visit outnumbered the people who are opposed.

There will be a big demonstration, but let's very carefully look at what the demonstrators say. The big sign apparently is stop the war now. What war?

What exactly is it they would like the United States and Britain to stop doing now? Stop protecting civilian, stop protecting the Red Cross (search)? Stop protecting the exiled Iraqi citizens from the previous administration or regime? What exactly do they want us to stop doing right now?

COLMES: But when they think that they think the -- America is a great country. Of course. Of course, they think we're a great country, and of course they want the president, President Bush, to visit.

But that negates the idea that they were against the Iraq war, they're against the -- they're against Prime Minister Blair's relationship with Bill Clinton -- excuse me, with President Bush about the Iraq war. And he's losing support there.

BENNETT: Well, fine. But it's a free country, and as President Bush said, he's not fazed by going to a country where there are demonstrations and take the demonstrations on.

But again, ask the question, what exactly is it they would like us to stop doing now?


BENNETT: Should we put down our arms and let these thugs and terrorists and Saddamites regain control of the country? Do they think we're a force for good or a force for evil over there? Presumably some of these idiots think that we are a force for evil in that place that has been so brutally treated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: You know, when Reagan arrived at the Berlin Wall, if you recall, there were 80,000 protesters -- or at least it was reported or claimed at the time.

BENNETT: Yes. Sure.

HANNITY: So how fast we forget. Clinton has been all around the world, and protested quite often, President Clinton when he was in office.

You know, people try to make a lot of this, about well, how do they feel. Well, there you have a very highlight of his presidency, "Sex maniac go home."

BENNETT: Well, you know, you put it very well, Sean. I would much rather have a president in whom we are proud go to England and be protested than to have a president who, when he was a student, spent most of his time protesting.

So if those are the choices, I'll take George Herbert Walker Bush -- George W. Bush, I mean.

HANNITY: If any Republican, Dr. Bennett, referred to minority judicial nominees as Neanderthals, what would the reaction in the country be?

BENNETT: That would be the end, and it would be over. We discussed this, you remember, with poor Trent Lott (search) where you know, he said what he said. And I was very critical of him.

Because there's a double standard. We enforce standards in our party. We hold people to certain standards of behavior and speech, and they don't in the Democrat Party.

It's a scandal. It's impossible.

Think of the implicit denial of free speech and free thought from black Americans. If you're a black conservative, you know, you're going to be in a lot of trouble if you get into public life.

HANNITY: Let me ask you about another issue that came out today, this ruling in Massachusetts about gay marriage. I wanted to get your thoughts on it.

BENNETT: Yes. Very, very big deal, and it moves the ball down the field further. Let me tell you, there's been a lot of talk of this. Let me cut to the chase here.

The question is, will this administration, will this White House and will the Republican Party take a position different from the major Democrat candidates on this?

Most of the major Democrat candidates for president are saying they are opposed to gay marriage; they're in favor of gay civil unions.

If that's the position that the White House decides to take, or the leaders of the Republican Party, there will virtually be no distinction between Democrats and Republicans. This will not be an issue in the campaign, it will not be an issue in the election.

That by the way, if Republicans do it would be a mistake. You have to understand that civil unions, as they are currently proposed, whether in Massachusetts or Vermont or any place else, are essentially the same as marriage. And it's 99 percent, if you will, of marriage.

And Republicans, conservatives, are going to have to take a stronger position.

COLMES: I wish we had more time to debate it. I'm sure we will again. Thank you for being with us tonight.

BENNETT: Thank you, Alan.

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