This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 12, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.
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BILL O'REILLY HOST: In the"Unresolved Problems" segment tonight: There's no question the NAACP does not like President Bush, in general. Here's what Chairman Julian Bond (search) recently said about the Republican Party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN BOND, CHAIRMAN, NAACP: Their idea of equal rights is the American flag and the confederate swastika flying side by side. They draw their most rabid supporters from the Taliban wing of American politics .And now, they want to write bigotry back into the constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: So, it came as little surprise when President Bush turned down an opportunity to talk to the NAACP this week. Joining us now from Philadelphia is NAACP President and CEO, Kweisi Mfume.
All right, Mr. Mfume, now, you know, put yourself in President Bush's position. You've got Bond over there just going all over the wall. And you know, why would the president of the United States put himself in a position to take that kind of abuse?
KWEISI MFUME, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: Couple of quick things. The first thing is that this is going to be an extremely close election. And I was always under the impression, as a campaigner, that you go places where you're sometimes not necessarily the number one record on the hit parade, and you do that not to be disingenuous, but to take the edge off and to perhaps win one or two people over, but to also be able to confront something head-on.
I think that takes the edge off. And who knows, if it means saving votes or picking up votes, I think that's important. The other thing, though, is that I would hope that the president understood, over these last four years, that those sort of characterizations and damnations that have come forward, from me at least, have always been based on something he did or didn't do. It was not the party.
I met two weeks ago with [Republican National Committee Chairman] Ed Gillespie (search) over lunch and really tried to work out a method that this president could come here, be accepted and received as he was four years ago, in a dignified forum. And he got a lot of applause then, but he never came back again.
And to also request, could I go to the Republican Convention so that I might be able to share at least the thoughts and the goals of this association and take whatever verbal abuse I might take there? Because I think it's important there be dialogue, not distance.
O'REILLY: Well, you can go to the Republican Convention, can't you?
MFUME: Well, you know, they haven't gotten back to me. I asked four years ago.
O'REILLY: Well, you can go with us. You can go with us. We'll take you.
MFUME: Well, I want to be on the program -- I want to be on the program.
O'REILLY: Oh, you want to get on the dais. But we could certainly get you credentialed and in there if you...
MFUME: Oh, yes -- no, I could do that.
O'REILLY: All right, let's get back to the discussion. Here, now look...
O'REILLY: Again, you're different than Bond. Bond's a bomb-thrower.I don't have any respect for him, and I do have respect for you. But put yourself in President Bush's position. He hears this kind of vitriolic rhetoric from Bond, and he says, "You know, I might want to go in and talk to MFUME. He's a reasonable guy. But I don't want to go in there and be embarrassed, because if I am, if I'm booed, or heckled, or something untoward happens, my opponent's going to use this."
"He's going to grab the tape, he's going to play it on all the newscasts, the blacks hate Bush, NAACP hates Bush. And I wouldn't take the chance if I'm the chief executive of this country, based upon Mr. Bonds irresponsible remarks." Now, if Mr. Bond apologized -- because I trust you, I don't think you would put the president in a bad position -- then I might rethink it.
But at this point, after that diatribe, no way I'd go.
MFUME: Yes, and you know, it's legitimate, and it's legitimate evenf rom his part. I mean, that's the sum of the conversation that Mr.Gillespie and I had when we talked, and he pretty much put it the way you did. But you know, I guess my real concern is, forget the conventions, whether they've been over the last four years or this one, it would have just helped just to be able to sit down.
I've written the president every year for four straight years just for a meeting, just to say, "Here's our agenda. What do you think about it? Tell us yours." And every letter I got back from the White House said,"The president would love to, but he doesn't have time" for four years.
So, the convention is the pinnacle, because we're focusing now, all of us, on the convention and whether or not he came. But the larger issue is, it would have been great if we could have sat down long before this. I did that with his dad. I did it with Ronald Reagan. I just believe you've got to have dialogue and not distance, even when you disagree. But that didn't happen.
So, if the decision is, "Well, you know, I didn't like what I heard,and so I'm not going to put myself in that position," that's fine. But the larger question becomes, well, what happened to the last four years when we missed opportunity after opportunity to talk?
O'REILLY: Well, listen, if I'm President Bush, I'd meet with you anytime you asked me to, because again, you're welcome on this program anytime. I want to hear what you have to say. But the guy's fighting a war on terror, he's got, you know -- I mean, these are extraordinary times.
I don't think that's an excuse. I do think he should have met with you. I do think the Republicans should reach out to the African-American community, because now they have something to offer. The Republican Partyhas a lot to offer blacks, I believe, and they should try to sell it. They should try to come on in and, as you said, siphon off some votes, reasonably discuss the issues and differences.
But again, I mean, when you have a guy like Julian Bond taking that kind of swastika approach, the Taliban, you know, boy, it just demeans your whole organization, Mr. Mfume. It really does. It puts you into the defamation and that kind of a league, and you don't want to be there.
I don't know why you can't tell Bond that. It doesn't do anybody any good, you know what I'm talking about?
MFUME: Well, I work for the board. The board doesn't work for me.They hire and...
O'REILLY: I know. But you've got to -- but if you want the NAACP to have the power and recognition it deserves to have, you have to be fair. You are fair. He isn't. Bond isn't fair.
MFUME: Well, that's why I called you the other day, because I had made a characterization out of absolute frustration, because someone said,"Well, the Republican Party..."
O'REILLY: The prostitute remark, you mean?
MFUME: Yes, they're going to go out and...
O'REILLY: Yes, but see, that didn't even offend me. I wasn't even offended by that. I knew what you were trying to say. I have it right in front of me. That wasn't a bomb throwing remark. You were just saying,"Hey, he's just not treating us with respect. We've got to get this thing out in the open." Wasn't that what you were trying to say?
MFUME: That is what I was trying to say.
O'REILLY: Yes, all right.
MFUME: And Bill, you know, the question is, where do we even go from here? It's like this huge line is in the sand now, you know. We've dug in on our side, they've dug in on their side, and yet, the American public is not better served as a result of this. And even this convention, I think we'd be better served to hear from two candidates as opposed to one, even if it were by videotape.
O'REILLY: You should have invited me. I'll go next year and talk to your convention. I'll come in there, and I'll rock that whole world in there, and I'll tell you why certain people fear you...
MFUME: I'm sure.
O'REILLY: Look, it's all about fear, Mr. Mfume. They're afraid that they're going to go in there, they're going to be treated disrespectfully. He's the president of the United States, he's in the middle of a war. He doesn't need it. That's what they're saying.
MFUME: But you know, I'd give him my word that that would not happen,and I did that four years, actually, I did it eight years ago, with Bob Dole (search), but he didn't believe me, even though we had served together in Congress for 10 years, and Bob knew me. He stood on the tarmac and said, "I'm not going to go. It's a setup."
Four years ago, I said to candidate Bush at the time, we will treat you, sir, with the dignity that ought to be afforded the office that you are seeking, and we will do that with every candidate. They trusted me. They came to the convention in Baltimore. The president was interruptedwith applause eight, or nine, or ten times.
It was a dignified reception. It was not the reception Al Gore got, I grant that, but it was a dignified, respectful reception. And I promised the same thing this time. But you know, I can't do anymore than that.
O'REILLY: Well, I appreciate you coming on. The audience can decide, you know, whether President Bush made a wise decision or not. And you're always welcome here. And again, my offer stands. If you want to go down to that convention, we'll credential you, you can come with us.
MFUME: I want to speak.
O'REILLY: OK. Well, you can yell out of our booth, because that's what I'm going to be doing. All right, Mr. Mfume, thanks very much. We appreciate it.
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