Democrats' Secret Strategy Memo Leaked

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," March 20, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: A memo from the office of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has been leaked to The Washington Times. The document, entitled "Real Security" calls on Democratic lawmakers to hold town hall meetings on military bases, to say the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of public events, to identify Iraq war veterans who are critical of the Bush administration.

Joining us now is the Washington Times reporter who received the leaked memo, Rowan Scarborough.

Rowan, big fan, welcome back. Thanks for being with us.


HANNITY: Good, thank you.

This, in my view, is a real low. What you have here and what you were able to break with this story is, in memo form, sounds to me like the Democrats are going to use our military, our veterans, our troops, their families, as props in an orchestrated campaign to hurt the commander in chief and it's in writing. Am I interpreting this right?

SCARBOROUGH: I think you've got it square on. This is a plan to broaden the campaign, to take it, you know, not just to schools or main streets or fire halls but take it inside military bases, stage events where you have active duty personnel, who either appear to acquiesce to what the Democrats are saying or to perhaps speak up and criticize the president.

And throughout the memo, they tell people, the staff, to make sure that there are plenty of opportunities for photo ops, for TV cameras to capture all of this.

HANNITY: The fact that they have to tell them to say the Pledge, the fact they spell out, have the American flag here.

But let me read just one little part, here...


HANNITY: "Visit the home of a military family that has purchased body armor on their own for a family member severing in Iraq" -- Blah, blah, blah. "Hold an open press conversation on the issue. Conduct a town hall meeting can veterans at local posts. Conduct a panel discussion."

It seems like they want to use our very heroes, prop them up, put a flag in the background, and use it for a big P.R. campaign to get their power back. It's stunning and takes your breath away.

SCARBOROUGH: There's no doubt. To me, you know, Bush — President Bush polls very well with active duty personnel. He's very popular with enlisted men and women and officers. And this is an attempt, I think, to drive a wedge between the president and the rank and file, because if you can get a few of the active duty people to appear at these events, or criticize the president the media is going to pick up on this, and it's going to be played as dissension.

HANNITY: Isn't it really about a media campaign? Isn't there a certain degree of falseness, phoniness, outright manipulation between the orchestrated pledge, the flag and everything else here, and really turning these moments into political opportunities? I mean, that's what I think is the sinister part of all of that?

SCARBOROUGH: Well, the problem is, you know, there are rules in place in the Defense Department. You cannot turn a base into a campaign scene, and it's fine to come on and be briefed as a candidate and talk to the troops but if you want to stage an event and then start bashing the president or the other side, that violates the regulation.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Good to have you on the show. I'm just happy to hear that the Democrats have a game plan. This is exciting. This is good. Democrats actually have a plan. It's amazing.

SCARBOROUGH: I'm glad I made your day.

COLMES: No, it's great! Look, I'm shocked. They want to do these horrible things like hold town meetings. This is terrible. They want to actually have flags and show that they are, you know, they support the flag. This is — how dare the Democrats do that, right?

SCARBOROUGH: Well, as I mentioned, Alan, there are rules as to what you can do on a military base versus what you can do on Main Street, USA. And you cannot turn a base into a political forum. And if you read the memo, that seems to be what they want to do. They want to hold, quote, "a town hall meeting" with active duty personnel, but then the message in the Reid memo is to criticize the president.

COLMES: When you say criticize, I mean...

SCARBOROUGH: Make sure the TVs are there. Make sure you have the correct backstage, the weapons. That is a campaign; that's not information.

COLMES: Well, there are many Democratic — there are many military families, and there are many military families of those still serving who don't agree with the president. There's Gold Star Families for Peace. There are other groups that are upset that their kids don't have body armor or were treated poorly or in some cases died --paid the supreme sacrifice. Not everybody thinks alike in the military.

And the president himself has used military bases. He's used the flag. He used a flight suit. He used the deck of a ship, [to display the banner] "Mission Accomplished." He's done it, so the Democrats want to play on their turf and play their game, and somehow that's not acceptable?

SCARBOROUGH: Well, it may be acceptable. I mean, it would depend on how they hold these town hall meetings. But you know, the president is the commander in chief, and if you look at the speeches that he gives when he goes to Fort Bragg or other outposts, they are generally to buck up the troops and to tell them why they're doing what they're doing.

If you read this memo, that won't be the purpose of these town hall meetings. It's going to be to criticize Bush and do it in an environment of active duty personnel.

COLMES: Well, there is another point of view. The personnel can or cannot participate. They have the choice to make. It's free speech; they can say what they want to say. We live in that kind of a country, and there are those who disagree.

Maybe they're taking a page from the Republican song book, which has worked very well for Republicans. And it's about time Democrats organized and play that game on their own turf.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, if this works, if this works and they can get active duty personnel to criticize Bush on a military base and it's captured on television, it probably will be a boon for Democrats.

HANNITY: Rowan, good to see you. Good piece. Thanks for being with us.

SCARBOROUGH: Thanks, Sean.

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