Dean's Endorsement A Left Signal?

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, December 10, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Yesterday certainly proved to be a big day for Howard Dean (search) when he gained the endorsement of Al Gore in his run for the presidency. But does this endorsement signal the shifting of the Democratic Party further to the left?

Joining us now is the author of A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat, Georgia Senator Zell Miller.

You announced you're voting for George W. Bush for the presidency.

SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: That's right. I think he's the man for the job.

COLMES: There's no Democrat who could at this point convince you? Even Joe Lieberman, perhaps the most conservative Democrat?

MILLER: No. I know them and I've looked at them close. And I have a high regard for many of them. But George Bush right now is the man for this job and we shouldn't be -- I think the next five years are going to make the difference in how this world is going to be for my grandchildren and my great grandchildren. And I want that man in charge.

COLMES: Should there not be two strong parties with very two different ideas, perhaps, about how to get from here to there? Isn't that healthy for America to have two strong, passionate points of view in this country?

MILLER: Absolutely. And I've helped do that for the last 50 years. I voted for the first Democratic -- my first Democratic presidential candidate in 1952, and I voted for every one of them since then. But I'm not going to vote for one this time.

COLMES: I interviewed Jimmy Carter (search) for my radio show. It's going to air in its entirety later tonight. You're coming on, too.

Here's what Jimmy Carter told me when I asked him about your book and your statement and your voting for President Bush. Here's what Jimmy Carter had to say.

MILLER: Uh-oh.


JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would rather not even comment about Zell Miller on the radio. He is really -- I think one of the worst mistakes that our Democratic governor made in his last four years was appointing Zell Miller to the senate. He has really betrayed all the basic principles that I thought he and I and others shared.


COLMES: Pretty strong words?

MILLER: Well, he wrote that to me in a letter. And both his wife and he signed it. And I'm sorry they feel that way.

I helped run the Democratic Party when Jimmy Carter was governor. I was the executive director of the party when he was governor. And he and I served together when we were state senators. My wife was part of the original peanut brigade. I'm sorry he feels that way just because I happen to think President Bush is doing a fine job.

COLMES: Does that hurt you personally to hear President Carter, like you a former governor of Georgia, make that kind of statement?

MILLER: Of course it does, because he's been a friend for -- since 1962.

COLMES: And does he have a point, though, at all about the direction of the party and that, you know, he really feels strongly about the Democrats...

MILLER: Do you know how Jimmy Carter got elected president? Because George McGovern had taken the party so far to the left, that Jimmy Carter came along and he was able to take it back toward the center. That's how he got elected.

When he became president, then I'm afraid he governed too much like an old Democrat, but there for awhile, he showed -- and I've got a chapter in the book about how Carter got elected. That's one of the ways to campaign and to get elected.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Senator, always good to see you. Congratulations. Your book has been a rocket on The New York Times bestseller list. And it's a tribute to the right message at the right time. A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat.

Who left who? Did you leave -- Did you -- philosophically, pull back from the party or did the party leave you?

MILLER: The party left me. And all you have to go back ... is ... look at how Jimmy Carter ran for governor. Look at how he ran for president. He didn't run out far to the left. He ran as a middle-of-the-roader. He ran as a centrist.

That is how he got elected governor. That's how he got elected president.

But now the party, along with him, I'm afraid, has moved so far to the left that you really have two factions in the Democratic Party right now, Sean. You have the far, far left and you have the far left.

HANNITY: That's about it. But you know something? You're on target. It is a national party no more. They're not competing on any level at the state level. They're not competing in the House and Senate. They're not - - they don't have the White House. They don't have power. So obviously, there's legitimacy to your criticism.

How are you being received in the United States Senate? By No. 1, endorsing the president? And challenging your party to return to its more conservative roots on issues like defense and taxes?

MILLER: I'm afraid many of them feel like President Carter feels. They don't like what I have to say.

I was trying to put on a life preserver. I was trying to show them how the Democratic Party needs to come back to its centrist ways. I mean, John Kennedy was a tax cutter, and he stood up strong on national defense. And he carried Georgia with a larger percentage than he carried the state of Massachusetts.

HANNITY: Yes. And F.D.R. and Truman and Scoop Jackson.

MILLER: When I went to Miami in 1972, running that Democratic Party, helping President Carter, that time Governor Carter, I was a Scoop Jackson delegate.

HANNITY: Let me ask you about, first of all, the Gore endorsement of Howard Dean and maybe putting your book into modern day politics. How do you...?

MILLER: Well, first of all, I think they deserve each other. And I think they're going to help each other, and I think they're going to hurt each other.

HANNITY: Explain.

MILLER: Well, I think they're going to help each other is that Gore is going to be able to bring to Howard Dean an instant organization in all 50 states. He's going to help him with the African-American vote. That's how he's going to help him.

But he's going to hurt him in the values voters...

HANNITY: Values.

MILLER: Values. V-A-L-U-E-S.


MILLER: Values voters that John Zogby says 25 percent of the American people are. And there's a lot of them in Middle America and rural America and in the South. They are not going to vote for somebody that has got Al Gore carrying them around.

HANNITY: You are no longer on the Georgia Democratic Website as an office holder.

MILLER: They don't acknowledge that. They took me off of it.

HANNITY: I thought what I heard what Jimmy Carter just said on Alan's radio show is mean. I thought that was...

MILLER: Well, you've got to understand that President Carter still thinks he's president. He's never seen a president since he left office that he didn't think he could do better than.

HANNITY: I guess you're right. That's a good way to put it.

What do you think of Hillary Clinton?

MILLER: Well, I like her as a person. I got to know her back during the Clinton years, whenever the campaign was going on and I was supporting Bill Clinton so strongly. And then I got to know her. Spent a couple of nights in the Lincoln bedroom in the White House. I like her.

She's too far to the left. She's too far to the left to do what I think they want to do. Of course, the whole party has moved to the left.

HANNITY: Yes. When you watch Howard Dean, who appears to be the nominee now, and you don't doubt that, right?

MILLER: Well, now, I think the party is over. It's like that Willie Nelson song, Turn out the light. The party is over.

HANNITY: That he's going to get the nomination?


HANNITY: And what's going to happen to the general? He's going to obviously make some attempt to move to the center, no?

MILLER: I think he will try to. But I think that having Gore at his side, that makes it even more difficult. That's what I was saying a minute ago. I think that hurts him more than it helps him.

HANNITY: Bill Kristol thinks that Howard Dean, he's warning conservatives, don't get too cocky. Howard Dean -- and I say I agree with you.

I think, senator, I've never felt more passionately about anything in my life, that the next five to ten years, the decisions we make will affect, not only the future of the United States of America, but the future of the world.

And I strongly and firmly believe that there are many people in your party that do not have a clue as to the nature of this threat and how to deal with it and how to confront it and how to defeat it. And it scares the living daylights out of me.

MILLER: I agree with you. I think Howard Dean when he goes into those red states is going to find it very, very difficult. I mean, for instance in Georgia in the south, he's going to be able to get now the African-American vote. He's going to be able to get what little labor vote there is there.

But I don't see him being able to get those moderates or a certain...

HANNITY: He's a guy that could make you become a Republican.

MILLER: Well, not me.


MILLER: Not me, and not...

COLMES: I have another solution.

MILLER: All right.

COLMES: Would you accept a vice presidential nomination on the Dean ticket?

MILLER: Are you kidding?

COLMES: You wouldn't?

MILLER: I don't have the desire nor the temperament. Can't you tell I don't have the temperament?

COLMES: You guys with your temperament.

Look, I keep hearing Dean being painted as this left-wing lunatic by the right. Here's a guy who cut state income tax twice, removed the sales tax on most clothing, reduced long term debt. He established a rainy day fund as governor of Vermont. Vermont's bond rating rose to Triple A level, the highest in New England, during his stewardship in the state.

He -- It was fiscally conservative as a governor. He was not a left - - NRA supporter, states' rights for guns. Very popular in the South, I would guess, where he needs the vote.

I would think that he is not the lunatic left fringe that he is being painted as.

MILLER: I haven't said he's a lunatic left fringe. I just said he's too far to the left for the American people.

Look, I know Howard Dean very well. We were governors together for eight years. And that is the way he governed.

COLMES: Right. What's wrong with that?

MILLER: Well, the trouble is right now, in order to get the nomination, he has placed himself so far to the left, that he's never going to be able to get back. And he has tapped into this anger with these very, very angry anti-war people. And he has said that he wants to raise taxes by $1 trillion.

COLMES: He said he'd like to overturn the cuts.

But look, he has shown himself to be fiscally conservative as a governor. There are many Americans who think Iraq was a wrong move. More and more are beginning to feel that way. On fiscal and other issues as an executive, he showed that he's no liberal, particularly.

MILLER: He has said that he wants to raise taxes, Alan. And he wants to raise them by $1 trillion. That's as much as Gephardt wants to raise them. All of them want to raise them.

COLMES: He would like to overturn the tax cuts given to certain people in an income bracket...

MILLER: That is raising taxes.

COLMES: ... who can afford not to have those tax cuts.

MILLER: That is raising taxes. We ought to be making those tax cuts permanent, not talk about doing away with them.

COLMES: How do you do that when an administration is talking about going to the moon now? He's talking -- they're talking about increasing money to NASA (search)? There's still -- Who knows how many more billion dollars we'll have to spend in the war on terror? How do you afford all that?

MILLER: You're going to be able to afford it, because the economy is going to improve tremendously. And that deficit is going to go down.

COLMES: I hope so.

HANNITY: It's already happening.


HANNITY: Well, senator, thanks. We appreciate, as always, you being here. Congratulations on the best-selling book. And we're glad that you came back.

MILLER: Thank you very much for having me.

Thank you, Alan.

COLMES: Thank you, sir.

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