The Flu Vaccine Frenzy and the Presidential Campaign

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Oct. 21, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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SEAN HANNITY,  CO-HOST:  Our top story tonight.  The Kerry campaign has slammed Vice  President Cheney for getting a flu shot while many Americans cannot.  But  apparently, they forgot to ask Bill Clinton who, according to his wife  Hillary Clinton, also recently had a flu shot. 

Meanwhile, Senator Kerry -- this is funny -- he went on a hunting trip  today.  He was dressed in camouflage and brandishing a shotgun, and he  managed to bag a goose.  And he's been very liberal, you might say, on gun  control.  It was an attempt to make the senator appear as a regular  windsurfing guy. 

Plus, the latest national poll released today by the Associated Press  shows Senator Kerry leading the president among likely voters 49 to 46  percent, although most other polls show the president leading, and many by  a significant margin. 

Joining us now from Los Angeles, nationally syndicated radio talk show  host, author of a terrific new book called "Twice Adopted," Mike Reagan is  with us tonight.  And from Washington, Democratic strategist, good friend  Bob Beckel. 

Bob, you know, I hate it when you're on, Bob, because I can't pull my  tricks on you. 


HANNITY:  But anyway, good to see you. 

BECKEL:  You too. 

HANNITY:  I remember -- I'm asking you this off the air, so I don't  want to bring anything up, but you recently had heart trouble. 

BECKEL:  I had -- I had the bypass surgery, yes, that Clinton had.

HANNITY:  I remember...

BECKEL:  Except I had five of them done.  He had four. 

HANNITY:  And I remember calling you at the time.  You and I have been  friends a number of years and I've had other friends that had this.  You  need a flu shot.  I'm pretty healthy.  I don't need a flu shot.  Dick  Cheney needs one.  Bill Clinton needs one.  I understand Hillary got her  flu shot. 

Don't you think that that was a cheap attack by the Kerry campaign  against the vice president?

BECKEL:  I think there probably were some other things you could have  talked about?  I mean, look -- I mean, the fact is that you could argue  that this thing was screwed up on the flu vaccine, and -- and it probably  was.  But when you have a heart problem -- I mean, I haven't gotten a flu  vaccine.  There's none around here.

HANNITY:  You need to get one.

BECKEL:  But people that have had heart operations ought to have one  of those.  But listen -- and that's the case in Clinton and Cheney. 

HANNITY:  And that's the point.  I thought this was a cheap shot.  The  president's not going to get one.  I'm healthy.  Alan, you're healthy.  And  Michael you are, too. 

All right.  Now I think -- we're going to move on to another topic  here.  I think, when I look at this video of the camouflage and the gun and  Senator Kerry's gun record, which is one of the most liberal, you've got to  admit, Michael Reagan, this is almost like a Michael Dukakis moment. 

Does John Kerry really believe he is going to convince people with his  weak gun record in West Virginia, in Ohio, and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin  and Minnesota, is he really going to convince gun owners he's one of them  with this picture?

MICHAEL REAGAN, AUTHOR, "TWICE ADOPTED":  I guess he wasn't happy with  the windsurfing Dukakis moment, so now he's going to do the hunting Dukakis  moment. 

Yes, I mean, he's just a regular guy out hunting on Thursday morning  in Ohio, getting ready for a major campaign. 

HANNITY:  No pandering here. 

REAGAN:  It's kind of interesting to consider.  And really, it's  interesting.  I mean, first of all, in this point in the campaign,  everything you do is aimed at getting voters.  This is aimed at getting  voters: "I'm just one of you regular hunters in Ohio." 

I wonder if anyone asked him if he had a license to hunt geese in Ohio  on this very day, and I wonder did he really shoot the goose?

HANNITY:  Well, look, Bob...

BECKEL:  Sean?

HANNITY:  You know what?  Michael Dukakis got in the tank because  everybody knew he was a weak on defense liberal, and he wanted to appear  tough. 

Aren't we looking at here John Kerry, who has a weak record on gun  rights, on gun owner rights?  He's got an "F" rating by the Gun Owners of  America, same thing with the NRA.  Isn't he trying to convince people he's  something that he's not here?  Isn't this pandering?

BECKEL:  Well, first of all, the reason he was out there in camouflage  was he heard that you were having the Hannitization of America tour, and  when they told him he was in the wrong state, he went back to goose. 

HANNITY:  I believe it. 

BECKEL:  But the -- But listen, the fact is, Michael said it right.  I  mean, people get -- The last week of the campaign, you're going to use  visual images as best you can to underscore where you've got some problems. 

Now, but the fact of the matter is I happen to hunt, and I know that  Kerry hunts. 

HANNITY:  Where?

BECKEL:  So you've got -- I mean, you can't say he doesn't hunt.  He's  not going to get the NRA vote.  You know that.  But the fact of the matter  is...

HANNITY:  But this is image making.  Bob, you're an old campaign guy.    BECKEL:  Yes. 

HANNITY:  This is -- but the problem here is it's like Michael Dukakis  with the helmet and the tank.  Frankly, it looks silly.  Kerry looks as  silly as anyone as I've ever seen, and it is so transparent pandering that  he's better off not doing this silly stuff and just standing up for what he  believes in. 

He's trying to convince people he's something he is not. 

REAGAN:  What's really interesting, if I can jump in for a moment, all  the video we have of him, of course, is walking back with the other  gentleman holding the geese. 

Now I thought to myself today, with all the cameras around there, all  the people around there, nobody got a photo of him shooting the goose.  And  I wonder if the reason for that was, as he was pandering to the people of  Ohio to say see, to say, "See, I'm one of you.  I really am a hunter."  At  the same time he didn't want to tick off the PETA organization to actually  kill the bird with a shotgun. 

COLMES:  We know he's going to lose the PETA vote here.  Hey, Michael,  you know, John Kerry is a hunter and he fishes...

REAGAN:  On Thursdays, in Ohio. 

COLMES:  It's not as though he's never done it before.  So it would  truly be pandering if, you know, he'd all of a sudden...

REAGAN:  He was pandering, Alan.  Be honest, he was pandering. 

COLMES:  He's a regular hunter.  He does it.

REAGAN:  You know, I'm a hunter, too.  I did my job today.  I didn't  go hunting this morning.  He was pandering to the people of Ohio. 

COLMES:  Well, part of his job is...

REAGAN:  Just be honest about it.  It's part of the campaign. 

COLMES:  All right.  Look, let's talk about the flu vaccine for a  thing. 

BECKEL:  What -- what politician is not pandering right now?  I mean,  George Bush is pandering when he goes in front of some medical place and  talks about his medical senior citizen cards and pharmaceuticals.  I mean,  this is what the campaigns in the last week or 10 days...


BECKEL:  You do pandering.  That's it. 

REAGAN:  But he doesn't need a camouflage outfit to go speak to the  seniors.

COLMES:  All right.  Let me talk to Michael about this... 

BECKEL:  He wears the same shirt when he chops wood.  You ever notice  that?  I don't know if that thing's ever been cleaned.

COLMES:  Was your dad chopping wood?  Was that ever done, do you  think, Michael?  Because...

REAGAN:  No.  My dad chopped wood all his life.  My dad, when he was  at the ranch, chopped wood.  That's what he did every day of his life at  the ranch, from the time I was a child to the time he could no longer go to  the ranch. 

So it was never pandering, because remember, the cameras were two  miles away on top of a mountain trying to find him. 

COLMES:  He's a hunter.  He does hunt.

REAGAN:  Come on.

COLMES:  Look, let me ask you about the flu shot deal. 

REAGAN:  Alan.

COLMES:  Let me ask you about the flu shot thing because you're right,  Dick Cheney needs it.  He's got a heart condition.  Bill Clinton, the same  thing. 

But Bill Frist -- Bill Frist set up a private clinic and invited  people with congressional I.D.s to come in, which is, you know, special for  the elite.  It's special treatment for those who get this kind of treatment  when the average American has trouble getting the flu shots.  Is that  proper?

REAGAN:  What a surprise?  Congress set it up so they could get  themselves flu shots. 

COLMES:  Bill Frist did that.

REAGAN:  Well, they set it up, they got themselves shots.  You're  really trying to make issues where there really are no issues at all.

COLMES:  But they're acting like the elite.

REAGAN:  If you want to talk about a real issue here, the issue would  be why are there only two companies that make flu vaccines?  Where did all  of them disappear to, you know, from the 1990s until 2004?

COLMES:  You're avoiding my question, because what you here is Bill  Frist setting up a private clinic -- a private place for people with  congressional I.D.s to go.  The average American doesn't have that  opportunity.  So it's special treatment for those who have, you know, that  elite status.  Do you think that is appropriate?

REAGAN:  Congress gets special treatment.  That's not a surprise to  me.  It shouldn't be to you. 

COLMES:  Also, the president was...

BECKEL:  Can I...

COLMES:  ... you know, they knew three years ago there was a problem  with these vaccines, that they were low, and the president didn't deal with  it. 

REAGAN:  When the government got in the vaccine business, Alan -- when  the government got in the vaccine business and started buying 65 percent of  the vaccines, putting price controls on vaccines, chasing the vaccine  manufacturers out of the United States to foreign countries, the troubles  really began. 

You have also tort reform, which you need.  You had 190 lawsuits in  2002, 12 class action suits...

HANNITY:  All right.  We've got to take a break.

REAGAN:  ... one of them for $30 billion. 

HANNITY:  Hang on.  Hang on.

BECKEL:  Just one point.  Most of those cases took place in the 1980s.

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