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Jack Kemp on John Edwards

This is a partial transcript from "HANNITY& COLMES", July 6, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: The veepstakes are over, and John Kerry has finally chosen his soul mate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I am pleased to announce that, with your help, the next vice president of the United States of America will be Senator John Edwards fromNorth Carolina.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY:  We didn't hear anything from Edwards today, but the "Senators John" will hit the road together for the first time tomorrow with a campaign stop in Cleveland.

But is this really a winning combination for the Democrats?

Joining us, former vice presidential nominee, our good friend, Jack Kemp.

Sir, good to see you.  What do you think of the choice on the surface?

JACK KEMP, FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  Well, I think it's a good choice forJohn Kerry.  I don't think it's going to get him the election.  I don't think it's going to get him to be thepresident of the United States.  Dick Cheney clearly will be a master in the debate against John Edwards.

But John is a good guy.  He's charismatic.

People are going to ask the question, I think, Sean, why couldn't he carry his own state of North arolina?  I don't see what it gets John Kerry, other than an infusion of charisma and a very good speaker.

HANNITY:  Well, let me ask you this.  One of the most amazing statistics I found in all of this, if ohn Kerry in 2003 was rated by the "The National Journal (search )" the No. 1 liberal in the United States Senate, John Edwards is No. 4.  A Hillary Clinton-Ted Kennedy ticket would be more conservative than this one.

Is this going to — Are they going to have a problem in middle America being — this is a very liberal ticket?

KEMP:  I was happy to see the White House, particularly President Bush today, say that they were going to run on the issues, on ideas, on the voting record.

And clearly, John Kerry and John Edwards have voted consistently against cutting tax rates.  They want to repeal the Bush tax cut.  They voted against removing the marriage penalty.

How do you go to the American people and say, "You're under taxed. Vote for us"?  I think it's a bad issue. They're for protectionism, raising taxes.

And how can you vote for a war and vote against $87 billion to finance the reconstruction of Iraq?

HANNITY:  I think you raise some — some unbelievable points here.  I don't think John Edwards has any national security experience whatsoever.  He had no legislation in the one term he had and that he ever was the lead sponsor of that became law.

Let me put up on the screen for you, Jack, if I can, Kerry's words about Edwards, which I think will probably come back to haunt him in the course of this campaign.

Kerry said about Edwards, quote, "I think that the American people want an experienced hand at the helm of the state.  This is not the time for on-the-job training in the White House on national security issues."

And then he also said, "In the Senate four years — and that is the full extent of public life — no international experience, no military.  You can imagine what the advertising is going to be next year. When I came back from Vietnam in 1969, I don't know if John Edwards was out of diapers then."

That's some pretty — some pretty tough, harsh criticism for the guy he picked...

KEMP:  Well, you know, during the campaign — during the campaign, clearly in a primary like that, you're going to have statements made by the side that's going to come back to haunt you.  This may or may not.

Politics, however, is not about the past.  It's about the future.  The past tells us a little about the future.

But clearly if they come out with a very strong, forward-looking campaign on the economy, on fighting terrorism, on foreign policy, on trade taxes, and on the issues of importance to the Americanf amily, then maybe they could overcome that.

But you're right, if they run a vanilla campaign, if they try to run just on the charisma of Senator Edwards, I think that's a tough — that's a tough call to make.

HANNITY:  I think the jury is still out.  There's a "Washington Monthly" piece, about a year ago, where they relayed a story that he didn't even know who Yitzhak Rabin was, meaning Senator Edwards.

Wait a minute.  If this was a Republican, Jack...

KEMP:  I'm not sure.

HANNITY:  Well, if it's true, I think we need to know.  He had a very poor appearance once with Tim Russert (search ) on "Meet the Press."  When he was asked about the Taliban and Afghanistan, and his answer was, "What would you do?"

"I'd show leadership."  That was the only answer he could come up.  I think — I think he's going to be tested on these issues.

KEMP:  Yes.  Yes, he will, Sean.  And — and clearly, that will be what the race is all about, and clearly against Dick Cheney, he's got a — a high road, you know, to climb or high hill to climb.

However, I want to say it again. Politics is not about the past. It's about the future. And he can overcome that if he gets in and mixes it up and does the homework that I believe he will as a trial lawyer.

But you've got to ask another question, however.  As a trial lawyer, running for vice president,why is it that health costs are up, insurance costs are up, airline costs are up?  Why is it that our society, which has so much — so many suits against so many businesses — do we really want a trial lawyer with his hand on the helm?

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST:  Secretary Kemp,  it's...

KEMP:  ... or at least close to the helm?

COLMES:  It's Alan Colmes.  Good to have you on the show.

KEMP:  Yes, Alan.

COLMES:  Thanks for being with us tonight.

KEMP:  Thank you, sir.

COLMES:  Some of the same things I'm hearing about John Edwards were said about George W.Bush: lack of foreign policy experience, lack of foreign — you know, didn't know answers to questions about who led certain countries.  And he was at the top of the ticket.

And the same people now criticizing Edwards for this are praising the job he's doing on these issues.  Do you see a little bit of hypocrisy there?

KEMP:  Well, not hypocrisy.  Certainly politics.  And I think people understand that.

As I pointed out to Sean, Alan, he can overcome it if he quickly does this homework on foreign policy.

But you've got to ask some fundamental questions.  How can you vote to authorize a war to liberate Iraq and then not pay for the funding for reconstruction?

Franklin Roosevelt said, "It is folly to win a war and lose the peace."  We can't lose the peace.And by voting against $87 billion, that tells us something about how he looks at the world.

COLMES:  Secretary Kemp, John Kerry was very clear about why he cast that vote.  It was a matter of how it would be paid for.  He wasn't against supporting the troops.  He is misrepresented by people saying, "See, he didn't want to support the troops."

There was a debate in the Senate at the time about how that money would be paid for.  That's what that was about, not a lack of desire to support those who were fighting.

KEMP:  Let me ask you a question, Alan.  That's a fair rebuttal.  Let me ask you a question, though.  If your son or daughter or a relative were serving in Iraq, and your senator or congressman or woman voted against the $87 billion, irrespective of the politics, what would you feel like?  I don't think it was a good vote.

COLMES:  A lot of people who — a lot of families, those who are serving in...

KEMP:  You can put any spin on it you want.

COLMES:  Well, we could each spin it our separate ways.  But there — there was a big debate about how to pay for it.

We were told at the time that Iraqi oil would pay for it.  We were told all kinds of things.  We would told there would be more countries involved that would help defray the cost.  That turned out not to be the case.

I want to talk about the vice president.  I'd like to know from you...

KEMP:  I can understand why.

COLMES:  Well, I want to talk about it, because I'm happy about John Edwards.

But what's it like when that call comes?  You got that phone call once.   What is the like that moment when that phone call arrives?

KEMP:  Well, it's thrilling. It's an honor. I give all due credit to Senator Edwards and Senator Kerry for putting a very good face, happy face on the Democratic Party. They need one.

I think George W. Bush and Cheney are clearly responsible at this point in the history of our country and of the world for leading this nation in the fight against terror.

HANNITY:  We...

KEMP:  And I don't think Kerry and Edwards match up.  I don't think they match up on the economy.  I don't think they match up on the vision for America.

HANNITY:  We — we're going to take a break.  More with Jack Kemp coming up right after the break.

(NEWSBREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Senator John Kerry made his firstpresidential decision, and it was an outstanding one.  Kerry-Edwards, it's got a winning ring to it.  And it isan outstanding ticket.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLMES:  Welcome back to HANNITY& COLMES.  I'm Alan COLMES.

We now continue with former vice presidential nominee Jack KEMP.

Tell me about how you got that call.  And how did your life then change?  At that moment, what happens?  How does your life change?

KEMP:  Well, it's too long to repeat on this show, but I was at birthday party for a relative andwas called from the Watergate Hotel to come up and see Bob and Elizabeth Dole.

My wife and I drove up to Washington from the middle of Virginia, sat there quite a while and was very honored and privileged.  We love Bob and Elizabeth, but basically said, you know, "Senator Dole, you need a pit bull. You need an attack dog, and that's not Jack KEMP."

And I basically — I didn't accept or turn it down, I just "let me think about it."  We called back the next day, and pretty soon, it was a fait accompli.

COLMES:  You had to think about it?

KEMP:  Wonderful experience; wonderful time.

COLMES:  You weren't sure you wanted it?

KEMP:  I — as I said, I didn't think — I didn't think Bob needed a Jack KEMP.  I thought what he needed was somebody who would go on the attack from the get-go.

And frankly, I was always talking about the future, about ideas, about tax reform and monetary reform and trade reform and welfare reform and inner city economic development.

So I kind — I begged off a little bit.  Then he persisted, and I'm glad I did.  It was a great experience, even though at the end of the campaign he said he wished he'd picked Tiger Woods.

COLMES:  There's — now you— you talked about a...

KEMP:  That's Bob Dole.

COLMES:  .. we're going to see debates between Edwards and Cheney at some point, and you're saying Cheney is going to kill him in the debate.

Edwards is known as a strong — you know he was — he was an attorney.   He was very good in front of a jury and makes a good case.  Are you that confident that that kind of a debate is going to be a slam-dunk for Cheney?

KEMP:  No, no, no, no.  It's not a slam-dunk.  And Dick Cheney has been vice president of the United States, secretary of defense.  I mean, he's been in every position of government.  And he knows the world.  He knows tax policy, economic policy, foreign policy, trade policy.

So Edwards will be up against a world-class individual in Dick Cheney.

Having said that, you're right, Alan.  Senator Edwards is a very good lawyer, a very good trial lawyer.  He's a good debater, good talker.

He's got a fundamental problem and hurdle to overcome, which is, how can he say that he wants to help the poor by raising taxes?  How can he say he wants to help the economy grow by raising the tax rates?  How is he going to say that he wants to bring down the cost of health care when trial lawyers have helped raise the cost of health care in America?

HANNITY:  When — Jack, when Kerry said, "This isn't time for on-the-job training in the White House on national security issues."  Well, that's what Kerry said about Edwards.  Those were his remarks.

KEMP:  Yes.

HANNITY:  Is John Edwards, in your opinion, up to the job — if Kerry got elected, God forbid something happened to him, is he up to the job of being president of the United States while we're at war? Does he have enough national security experience?

KEMP:  Sean, with all due respect, that question is asked of everybody from the left and the right of every candidate who ever gets...

HANNITY:  Well, what's your opinion?

KEMP: ... asked about me, asked about Dan Quayle.

HANNITY:  But you had a lot more experience, with all due respect.

KEMP:  ... in the campaign.

HANNITY:  You had a lot more experience.

KEMP:  I think I did.  Sean, let me finish the question, or the answer at least.

I don't want to answer the question until I see him under the lights, in the debates answering  questions from the press, from the American people and from Dick Cheney and George W. Bush.

So I don't disrespect anybody that runs and who gets that position.  I salute him for getting on theticket.  He was endorsed by Teddy Kennedy.  That should be his slam-dunk for the evening.

HANNITY:  Well...

KEMP:  I wish him well.

I just want you to know, I think George W. Bush and Dick Cheney having their hand on the control of this world, as dangerous as it is, is extremely important here in 2004.

HANNITY:  I just think — you know something, we're in the middle, as far as I'm concerned, Jack, of World War III.  I think we have people scheming their next attack.

And John Kerry, I frankly agree with him.  I don't think Edwards has the experience.  I don't —you know, it frightens me and I think it ought to be a campaign issue.

KEMP:  I don't either.

HANNITY:  If he didn't know who Yitzhak Rabin is, that — in 1998 — that's a frightening thoughtto me.

Legitimate question?

KEMP:  With all due respect, you know, it's a legitimate question.  The American people are fully capable of making a decision as to who do they want to lead this country at this moment in history. That's all I'll say.

HANNITY:  All right.  That's good.

Is John Kerry capable — he went out this weekend and among other things, he said life begins at conception.  He's out there firing a gun.  He actually used the term, quote, "I actually represent the conservative values in these Midwest states, these heartland states."

Is he going to be able to pull off, as the No. 1 liberal in the Senate, this idea that he's a conservative now?  Is that a manipulation we're — we're watching?

KEMP:  I'm not bothered by him shooting a gun and shooting skeet or whatever.  I'm not bothered by him talking about values.  Clearly, the Democratic convention will be full of American flags.

I think that's what makes America great, that both sides believe that they represent the values of the heartland.

Again, though, I don't think it's just that he's liberal.  I think that he's so far left of center.  He is so far left on taxes, redistribution of wealth, protectionism, immigration, welfare reform, foreign policy, defense policy, and not supporting $87 billion to help reconstruct Iraq and Afghanistan.

I've got a real heart for reconstruction.  I believe our country has a moral obligation to put in place...

COLMES:  We...

KEMP:  ... a 21st century Marshall aid plan for Iraq, Afghanistan and the Islamic world.  Absent that, we're not going to win the hearts and minds of the people of the European world.

COLMES:  We'll continue that debate coming up.  Mr. Secretary, thank you for being with us.  I appreciate it very much.

KEMP:  Thank you, Alan.

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