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Exclusive! Ross Perot on 'Hannity & Colmes'

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," June 14, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "Hannity & Colmes" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST:

Alan and I spoke in an exclusive interview with former presidential candidate Ross Perot about a very special event for our veterans that is taking place this week in Branson, Missouri.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANNITY: Mr. Perot, welcome to "Hannity & Colmes." Thanks for being with us.

ROSS PEROT, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My privilege to be with you. Thank you.

HANNITY: Well, we're glad you're here. Operation Homecoming, which you have played an integral part of. Tell us what that's about.

PEROT: Well, it's a major welcome home that lasts almost a week for all the Vietnam veterans who were never welcomed home after the Vietnam War, to make sure all of these men understand how much we recognize and appreciate the sacrifices they've made for our country.

It's www.operationhomecomingusa.com. It starts in Branson, Missouri, on the 13th of June. We'll have ceremonies on the 14th. The grand finale will be on the 18th.

We'll have events all week, including Huey helicopter rides. There'll be a parade for all the veterans to participate in on Friday at 10:00 a.m. in Branson. There'll be an air show and a concert on Saturday, the 18th. It starts at noon and goes until 9:30 p.m.

HANNITY: Wow.

PEROT: Every Major League Baseball team in the country is going to have a ceremony during the game honoring our Vietnam veterans. So that's going to happen in every stadium across the country during this week.

HANNITY: You've got the Beach Boys. You've got the Doobie Brothers. You've got Lee Greenwood, the Oakridge Boys.

PEROT: Oh, I'm coming up on that, yes. Yes, here we go, the really big show takes place on Saturday. We've got the Doobie Brothers, the Beach Boys, the Creedence Clearwater, Oak Ridge Boys, Four Tops, the Supremes, the Fifth Dimension, Tony Orlando, Les Brown's Band, Adrian Cronauer, the original Good Morning Vietnam D.J., live video via satellite from our troops overseas thanking our Vietnam veterans, and President Bush on video, and all the Joint Chiefs.

We'll have airplanes from the Vietnam era and flybys on all kinds of different aircraft. And then finally, it will end with a giant firework display. And I want to make sure that all the Vietnam veterans know about it and know that they are welcome. And this is the welcome home that they so richly deserve.

HANNITY: It's really sad to me that we have treated these vets so horribly. It's sad to me that it has taken all of these years to give them this homecoming that they deserve. I don't care where you stood on the war. These guys, when their country called, they put their lives on the line. And the way they were treated when they come back was horrible. I'm sure that's something we agree on.

PEROT: Absolutely. And this is a huge effort to make sure they know how much we admire and appreciate their patriotism and the sacrifices they've made for us.

HANNITY: And I'm even watching, it seems today, one allegation after another against our military by people in the news media, people for political purposes. You hear this on a daily basis. Are we making some of the same mistakes today, as it relates to not supporting the troops, that we made back then?

PEROT: Yes, but I think you guys know the media far better than I do. But the one thing I do know is that the media will run anything that will get a big audience. And if they have some horror story, they'll run it.

Now, any story, whether it's right and valid or not valid, like the "Newsweek" story, or what have you, it gets a lot of media attention. Can you imagine the impact that has on the wives, the children, the family members of our men who are fighting over there?

COLMES: Mr. Perot, it's Alan Colmes. Good to have you finally on "Hannity & Colmes." Welcome. Good to have you here.

PEROT: Thank you. It's always great to be with you. Keep up your good work.

COLMES: Thank you, sir.

You know, many of us have different political views about war. And you know, I fight this battle all the time with people who don't agree with me about the war, but you can support the troops even if you don't agree with the policy that gets us into a war.

And we should always honor those returning troops. And we didn't do a good enough job making that clear to those who returned from Vietnam. So I applaud for what you're doing now, all these years later. We can differentiate between whether we approve of a policy and whether we support our troops. Do you agree?

PEROT: We have to support our troops because they are literally putting their lives on the line for us while we continue to live the good life here with no real sacrifices at all.

COLMES: You continue to...

PEROT: And if they weren't, if they weren't the things that happened on September the 11th would be continuing to happen.

COLMES: You continue to support the troops in many ways. You have fought over the years to extricate POWs. You went in Iran, and you actually rescued two of your own executives. You've been outspoken for years on the POW issue.

Are we right to point out abuses on both sides? You were outspoken about abuses in North Vietnam. Is it right for us to point out and underscore when we don't treat detainees as well as we should in this country?

PEROT: Anytime that we are not following the Geneva Accords and the things we're required to do, then proper steps should be taken to discipline the people who did it. Absolutely.

COLMES: And is the press doing...

PEROT: No, no, we can't have a dual standard.

And there's another side to this. If, in fact, we are doing things that are improper, that will give our enemy the incentive to be more brutal to any POWs they have from our military.

COLMES: And I think that's really key. And it doesn't often enough get discussed, which is a reason we have the Geneva Convention, and the U.N. Convention on Torture, and so many of these agreements to which we are signatories, as it protects our own fighting men and women when they're in harm's way, and especially when they're held captive by our enemies.

PEROT: I'd like first thing is — to me, I can't imagine that our military is doing it, but if a few people are doing it, I certainly can't imagine that they have the authority from senior leaders to do it. Because of all the people I've known through my years, nobody ever thought that this would be something that would be tolerated.

You can understand every now and then, you know, some stray rabbit will get out of control. But then you take the proper discipline and make sure that everybody understands that's not tolerated.

But the main thing we need to do is stay positive, support our troops. I'm thrilled we're welcoming them home at airports all across the country. I'm thrilled that across small towns all over the country they're being welcome home. And in every possible way, we need to keep our focus on the 99.9 percent of the people who are doing everything just right.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HANNITY: Amnesty International (search) compared Guantanamo Bay (search) to the Soviet gulags where millions of people were murdered. And then, when pressed, they had to admit they didn't know what was going on there, but yet they made this reckless allegation that is heard all throughout the Muslim world. And people believe these statements. And it puts our troops in further jeopardy, doesn't it?

(CROSSTALK)

PEROT: That's right. It's inexcusable, because we need to protect our men, not expose them. Now we're exposing them. And the thing that I wish our whole society had the same commitment that senior military officers have to people in the lowest level of their enlisted ranks.

And it's just really touching how much all of the leaders in the military care about these troops, want to protect their troops. And it's probably maybe the best and strongest part of our society.

HANNITY: What are your thoughts on the rhetoric by prominent Democrats throughout this war?

PEROT: Well, my first piece of advice is, during a war, never give aid and comfort to your enemy. And that gives aid and comfort to the enemy. And you know what that's a definition of.

HANNITY: And is that what you have heard, when you hear those statements, do you believe these prominent Democrats are doing that?

PEROT: It's absolute — again, but we're back to the show business world of television where, if you say something like that, you're going to get covered 24 hours a day, seven — you know, around the clock until there is another splashy story. So they do it to get attention. It's a free ad. Let's put it that way.

HANNITY: Are you as surprised as I am at the fact that this is even deemed controversial, considering we knew he had used weapons of mass destruction in the past?

PEROT: I guess I'm not surprised. I'm disappointed. And it's certainly not in our country's best interest. And skipping through all of that, we are putting men on the battlefield at a higher level of risk once they sense that we are a divided nation.

And with the world of television and instant communication, believe me, everybody over there knows what's going on over here. And I am sure it will be biased to make it look even more adversely than there even — than there is. So I would like to be one nation indivisible while we have men in combat.

COLMES: Mr. Perot, I'd like to address, though, with you — you know, there's some of us who do believe we shouldn't be involved in Iraq. Many of us believe we were misled to be in this war. Should we bite our tongues and not speak out if we feel policies are not in the best interests of the United States? Do we not speak about it?

PEROT: Well, we are a free society with free speech. But I would just ask every American, even whether you agree with the war or not, while we have wonderful young people who are giving their lives for our country - - they were ordered to go into combat — that we need to be very supportive of them and not give any aid and comfort to the enemy. But again, we are a free society, and people have a right to speak out.

COLMES: So where's that line? I mean, past — what should you be able to say...

PEROT: I think it's a line in everybody's head.

COLMES: Well...

PEROT: It's a line — in our society, the person has to reach that decision. But my advice to please wait, you know — but let's assume you're thinking about going to war. That's the time to speak out, have a big debate. Once you go to war and our men are in harm's way, we all need to be one nation indivisible.

But if a person chooses to speak out, they can speak out, because we have free speech. But they need to realize that what they say and do could result in people losing their lives.

COLMES: Mr. Perot, do you miss the public arena?

PEROT: No.

(LAUGHTER)

COLMES: That's a direct and quick answer. Why not? I mean, there are people who love the way you spoke out, that you spoke out, and that you offered an alternative different than the two main political parties.

PEROT: No, but it's — you asked me the question. I just tried to give you an honest answer.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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