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Exclusive! Rev. Billy Graham Talks with Sean Hannity

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," June 24, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: As we continue on "Hannity & Colmes," I'm Sean Hannity. In what is being dubbed the potentially last Crusade of the Reverend Billy Graham, a short time ago, I spoke with him in a rare and exclusive interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANNITY: Reverend Billy Graham, very good to see you. Thank you for being with us.

REV. BILLY GRAHAM, EVANGELIST PREACHER: Oh, it's a privilege.

HANNITY: How are you feeling?

GRAHAM: I'm feeling fine.

HANNITY: You look good.

GRAHAM: Well, thank you.

HANNITY: Now, they keep saying that this is your last Crusade.

GRAHAM: It may be.

HANNITY: You think it might be?

GRAHAM: It might be. I don't have the physical strength to go on very much longer. And my wife is an invalid. I have responsibilities at home now that I haven't had in the past.

HANNITY: What does that mean to you, if this is your last Crusade?

GRAHAM: It means it's great to be in New York for the last one, because I have held so many in this area. In 1957, we were here 16 weeks every night.

HANNITY: Great. You know, that was the amazing thing. It was only supposed to go on for a couple of weeks. Then you said we'll have one last night in Yankee Stadium. You didn't have room for 20,000 people; 120,000 people showed up.

GRAHAM: That's right.

HANNITY: And then you ended up doing it throughout the summer, through Labor Day, and you'd never planned on it. So New York is particularly for you?

GRAHAM: Oh, it's very special. I love New York. And every time I see that sign, that has red on love, I feel myself in there with the people.

HANNITY: What is it, Reverend, about you, that you can attract these crowds that others cannot attract?

GRAHAM: I don't think I attract them. I think that I started out with some friends and the media, like (INAUDIBLE) very close friends. And Randolph Hearst, whom I never met, but he certainly helped support us in the beginning.

And a lot of that type of thing. And in England, I had held a major Crusade there before I came to New York. And we stayed there 12 weeks. And we were supposed to stay two or three weeks. And they made it up big in the press, and I toured Europe. And all the stadiums we went to were filled. In Berlin, we had 150,000 people in one night in Berlin.

HANNITY: I looked at the numbers. You have, for 60 years, over 210 million men, women and children, it's estimated.

GRAHAM: I'm not sure about that.

HANNITY: Well, that's what it says.

GRAHAM: I know that's what they say.

HANNITY: That a little high?

GRAHAM: Maybe more or less.

HANNITY: Well, somewhere around there. But when you think back on your life, you have been at this for six decades. Do you remember when you were called to do this? Do you remember when you thought that this was going to be...

GRAHAM: Yes, I remember the first sermon I ever preached. And I'm going to tell about it tonight, maybe how I was very nervous and very tense.

And I had four sermons. I preached them, all four in ten minutes. And that was the beginning, in a place called Bostwick, Florida, in northern Florida, in a little tiny church, and on a cold night, about 40 people. And I was so nervous.

HANNITY: Do you get nervous today?

GRAHAM: Yes.

HANNITY: Are you nervous now about tonight?

GRAHAM: Yes. I haven't preached a sermon since September last year.

HANNITY: In Kansas City?

GRAHAM: No, in the Rose Bowl.

HANNITY: OK, in the Rose Bowl, right.

GRAHAM: In California. And I am. I'm tense and nervous. And I'm nervous sitting here with you.

HANNITY: Oh, you are not. You're among friends. When you think that this might be your last Crusade, how would you like -- after six decades, how do you want people to remember you? What do you want people to think...

GRAHAM: I want people to remember me that I was faithful, faithful to the gospel, faithful to the call that God gave me. And when I get to heaven, I'm going to ask him why he called me, because I was much used to milking cows and working on the farm than I was preaching.

HANNITY: Your son, Franklin...

GRAHAM: Yes.

HANNITY: ... earlier today told me that he felt you were like a turtle, put on top of a fence pole. In other words, you couldn't have gotten there by yourself.

GRAHAM: Absolutely. I had to have my wife. I had to have a wonderful staff of people through all the years. I started out as the president of a small college in Minnesota in 1947, I believe. And I had five years of experience at the college.

And then we went to Los Angeles. And the press got (INAUDIBLE) to what we were doing. And I went to Boston, which is my next series of meetings. That was in 1950.

HANNITY: You mentioned something that stuck with me. Do you not know what you're going to say tonight?

GRAHAM: Yes, I pretty well know what I'm going to say, but it'll be adlibbed. I'm not going to read it. But I have notes.

HANNITY: It comes from the heart?

GRAHAM: It comes from the heart. It comes from what Jesus said.

HANNITY: When you think back, do you think of things that you think you did right, your successes in life? Do you think there's any area where you maybe failed? What are your greatest successes?

GRAHAM: Yes, I think that I failed by not studying more, and praying more, and spending more time with my family.

HANNITY: Has the world gotten worse in six decades? Do you see more evil in the world, less evil? Is the world getting better?

GRAHAM: It's always been the same.

HANNITY: Always been the same?

GRAHAM: Everybody is a sinner before God. And I think we magnify it today because we have television, and we have so many other technologies that make what happens in some other part of the world in our living room.

HANNITY: But you don't think -- you don't see a difference? That's really -- that's fascinating to me. When you see all of the changes in the world in the last hundred years of human history and human evil, and you agree there's evil.

GRAHAM: Well, look at 200 years ago, or less than that, of the civil war, where we were at each other's throats, brother against brother, cousin against cousin. And we haven't gotten that low yet.

HANNITY: Reverend Graham, it's an honor to meet you.

B. GRAHAM: Oh, thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HANNITY: In our final thoughts tonight on "Hannity & Colmes": here we are in Flushing Meadow Park, Queens, New York, what is being dubbed as potentially Billy Graham's last Crusade. An unbelievable night as the crowd is now dispersing here.

But you know what? Over the years, it's estimated Billy Graham has preached to some 210 million people. In the course of tonight, anywhere between 100,000 and 150,000 people came. In the course of the weekend, there could be potentially be here 500,000 people in just three short days.

It has been 60 years Billy Graham has been preaching this message. And there's never been a scandal, there has never been a harsh word, conservative, liberal, Republican and Democrats alike, have come to love this man.

And it's amazing work. I can't really, frankly, think of a world without the Reverend Billy Graham. The fact that he had such integrity, would never be alone, always had people around him he could trust. And it's an amazing night here, and history in the making.

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