Motives Behind Bush Iraq Trip

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, December 1, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Joining us now is FNC political analyst and former adviser to Bill Clinton, Dick Morris. He's the author of Off With Their Heads, your latest offering. Dick, thank you for coming on the show.

Look, I think it was both a brilliant move for the president and for the troops. I think he did the right thing. But also, a great P.R. move as well. I mean...


COLMES: ... you can't say that it's also not a public relations maneuver.

MORRIS: Yes, but listen to the segment that you guys just had with Ollie North (search). Public relations is military strategy in this war.

The goal of the other side is not to kill 135,000 American troops. The goal is to kill one or two a day until we lose our nerve and leave. So when Bush does a P.R. stunt, that's as important as good intelligence.

COLMES: He should have done it. I don't agree with liberals who say he should not have done it.

MORRIS: Good P.R. in this war is a military good thing.

COLMES: President Clinton did the same thing. He went to Kosovo (search). He went to Serbia (search). L.B.J. went to Vietnam (search).

MORRIS: The last soldier to be injured in Kosovo and Bosnia stubbed his toe.

COLMES: All right. But that's not to negate the idea that a president historically goes to a war zone and that Bush did the right thing in this case.

MORRIS: Except one is P.R. and is real. P.R. is real in this war.

COLMES: All right. Now he was incurring criticism, the president, President Bush, for not going to memorials of slain soldiers. All right.

He had just met the families of 26 who were killed in Iraq. He was being criticized for the swagger he did aboard the USS Lincoln wearing a flight suit, "mission accomplished," so was this to counter that? Was that factored in?

MORRIS: Sure. Sure. I think that the remaining video, the image of the "mission accomplished" on the aircraft carrier with a certain swagger in his walk had to be replaced. And serving turkey to the soldiers will be the image people will have now.

COLMES: If he uses this in a campaign commercial, would that be a bad move because then Democrats can say, "Look, he's politicizing it. He's taking that video and he's using it to get himself re-elected"?

MORRIS: It would be a wonderful move.

COLMES: But then he's politicizing it, isn't he?

MORRIS: Listen, the political function of the commander in chief and indeed, the political purpose of sustaining support for this war, is so inextricably linked to the military mission, you can't separate them.

COLMES: You can't separate, them but nonetheless, we just came off of, as I mentioned earlier, the bloodiest month in Iraq, 79 dying.

MORRIS: Let me ask you this.


MORRIS: Do you believe that if the Fedayeen think Howard Dean is going to win it will have a different effect on them than thinking Bush will win? Bush is going to win, they've got five more years of this stuff.

COLMES: Yes, but you don't know. Look, I think that Howard Dean or whoever becomes president will hopefully build a coalition so we're not alone. I know Howard Dean has said he wants us out, but he wants a coalition.

MORRIS: Coalition of those guys that sold the weapons to Saddam.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: How about a coalition of those guys who did it in 1991 with Bush 41.

Let me ask you a question. I want to bow to presidential politics here. Howard Dean of all people, the biggest appeaser of them all, in the Democratic left today, says Bush has no understanding of defense, it's diplomacy by petulance. He lacks the backbone to stand up against the Saudis.

Clearly one of these Democratic operatives came up with a plan and said, "We'll attack the president on these issues." Is that going to work?

MORRIS: No. No, it's not going to work. But work is one thing and work is another. It will work in the Democratic primary; it won't work in the general.

HANNITY: Yes. So there's no way he can reverse course and come off - - with his extreme left wing anti-war position, and his attack against every maneuver the president has made, he cannot...

MORRIS: He's going to try to -- because he's going to say that he didn't raise taxes much. He's going to say that he was kind of a moderate governor.

But when you take the gay marriage position and the anti-Iraq war position, no he can't switch ground. But he's going to win this nomination.


MORRIS: Kerry figured that he was the left of the field. He figured, "Lieberman, Edwards, Gephardt, are all to my right."

Then he didn't bet that there could be a Dean who would flank him, and Dean flanked him. And the left is dominant in the Democratic Party.

HANNITY: It's interesting because the Washington Times had a great piece about the Democratic anxiety over Dean. Because I think they're sensing McGovern; they are thinking Dukakis.

MORRIS: McGovern in more senses than one, Sean.

In 1971 McGovern looked like a strong contender who could have beaten Nixon.


MORRIS: But by '72, Nixon was pulling the troops out. And by '04 Bush will probably begin to. The economy will be doing good. Prescription drugs benefits are hitting.

Howard Dean's a campaign designed for 2003.


MORRIS: ... for an election that has to be run in 2004.

HANNITY: I know that people around him -- and I'm not impressed by any of the operatives that I know are working on his campaign. They've had one losing campaign after another. You know who these guys are.

But you have to say, my God, your hat off to these people. I mean, they took a guy who had no chance at all.

HANNITY: Look at the field he's up against.

MORRIS: And he's destroying the best the Democratic Party has to offer.

HANNITY: The best. But isn't that the point? They have no bench; they don't have any real leadership in the party? Hillary is it.

MORRIS: That's true.

COLMES: I hope they keep writing off the Democrats. Very quickly.

MORRIS: Howard Dean's managers are entitled to the Nobel Prize (search).

COLMES: Don't estimate the candidate. Underestimating the candidate got G.W.B. elected. Thank you, Dick.

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