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Ray Nagin Takes Swipe at NYC 9/11 Rebuilding Efforts

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," August 25, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Once again, there is outrage over comments made by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't get the cars out yet. You can't get this...

RAY NAGIN, MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: It's all right. You guys in New York City can't get a hole in the ground fixed, and it's five years later, so let's be fair.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Of course, this isn't the first time the mayor has put his foot in the mouth. Remember what he said earlier this year about rebuilding New Orleans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAGIN: It's time for us to rebuild a New Orleans, the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Joining us now, nationally syndicated radio talk show host Larry Elder and Republican strategist Rich Galen.

First of all, how much does a guy that said this city will be a "chocolate city," a predominant African-American city, how does he get re- elected? I'm just having a hard time grasping that, Larry.

LARRY ELDER, ABC RADIO NETWORK: It's a tough one, Sean. The Teflon mayor strikes again. Remember, the first time he ran, he got very little black support. He would not have won without substantial white support.

So Katrina happens. All of a sudden now it's racism and it's about Bush. He becomes the mayor, a victim. He runs again, and he gets substantial black support and very little white support.

HANNITY: Yes, what would happen...

ELDER: What he did was he ran against the man. I remember years ago, Sean, there was a mayor of Philadelphia named Frank Rizzo. He said, "Vote white." And that was roundly condemned as a racist statement. Referring to New Orleans as a chocolate city and that's the way God wanted it to be is an outrage, yet he got re-elected.

He was incompetent. Those buses were underwater. He was the first responder. They had an evacuation plan; they didn't follow it. This guy has no business being in office. I thought he was a bad first-term mayor. He turns out now with this ridiculous remark, likening an act of war to an act of God, to become an even worse second-term mayor.

HANNITY: Yes.

Rich Galen, if somebody said, "This city will be a vanilla city," what would their political future be? You're a great political strategist, Rich.

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, it would be bad, but, I mean, that happens a lot. I mean, there's...

HANNITY: A vanilla city?

GALEN: There's no such thing as a white lawyer's association or anything like that. But that's OK, because whites are in control of stuff, and I think we have a certain advantage kind of built in.

But let me go back to Ray Nagin. Number one is that New Orleans politics is different from Louisiana politics, and Louisiana politics is different from American politics. Ray Nagin was re-elected because — and I want to disagree slightly with my friend, Mr. Elder — because he got a lot of black support, but he also got a significant amount of white business support because they had already bought and paid for him, and they didn't see any reason to buy and pay for a new man.

HANNITY: But you know something, Larry? Look, I expect the type of cheap shot comment that he made today. I don't expect any less than this.

ELDER: Right.

HANNITY: But you know something? What drives me nuts — earlier this week — and we're going to have a lot of coverage coming up next week, justifiably, where is New Orleans one year later? But more importantly, he's already saying, "Well, this wouldn't happen in Orange County, California. It wouldn't have happened in Miami," clearly once again playing the race card here. You mentioned the buses sat empty. They had 35 years' warning, and in this case a five-day head start, and he didn't have enough sense to use the buses.

ELDER: You're absolutely right, Sean. And the key thing here is this: Right now, this mayor, this city needs an akin to somebody like a project manager, Sean, somebody to bring in all the disparate elements together: the business community; the investment community; the charitable community; the volunteer community; people living there; people who used to live there; people whom he wants to attract back.

You don't want to alienate the very people that you need to help build your city. So beyond how offensive he was likening 9/11 to his job, if I were a person living in New Orleans, I would be worried that he's alienating the very people who are necessary to rebuild my city.

HANNITY: And, you know, I want to ask one thing, too, Rich. He also said to the press — he yelled at them, in the middle of all this, "Get your (beep) up and do something." He said about the president, saying, "Get your (beep) on a plane and figure this out." And from all we know, he was sitting at the top level of a hotel, living pretty large, as I understand.

GALEN: Well, he was — they found him hiding out, I think, in the Marriott. I forget which one. But, I mean, they had to go find him, because when Air Force One got there, they couldn't find the mayor for him to — so, I mean, this is a guy that's not exactly the shining star of American cityhood.

And the other thing, Larry, I think that's important is that, when Nagin says these sorts of things, it makes people take New Orleans less seriously.

ELDER: Exactly.

GALEN: It makes them take the entire situation less seriously. They say, "Why should we throw" — we've committed $21.1 billion to New Orleans. And I think around the country people are saying, "You know what? Let's see something come out the other end before we commit any more."

ELDER: You're absolutely right.

KIRSTEN POWERS, GUEST CO-HOST: It's obvious that he says a lot of things that he shouldn't say. And, you know, his competence is clearly in question.

But the president said, you know, "We're going to do whatever it takes. We're going to be with you as long as it takes." Has the federal government done what they've committed to do? And are they doing the things that they need to be doing to help? Because we can all sit around and talk about Ray Nagin as long as we want, but obviously we all want to see New Orleans get rebuilt. So what needs to happen?

ELDER: Well, we've already committed over $100 billion, the government has, and more charitable contributions have come in for Katrina and Rita, Kirsten, than came in for 9/11. Again, what Nagin is doing is he's alienating politicians with these kinds of remarks, alienating would- be investors, alienating people that otherwise would come to that city.

He needs to pull all the people together. And he's going in exactly the wrong way and making another in a continuing series of bonehead offensive remarks.

GALEN: And let me make this point, also, Kirsten, that one of the president's staunchest supporters is a native New Orleanian — however you say that — New Orleans residents, Donna Brazile, who is a huge supporter of what the president is trying to do and get this stuff doing.

But you know what? The city has got to do things for itself.

ELDER: That's right.

GALEN: A lot of this is matching funds. A lot of this is, you've got to have the pieces in place to be able to use the money or else it disappears, as we know.

POWERS: Right. But let's just talk about for a second what he said. It was offensive. I live in New York. He shouldn't have said it. But if you do look at the fact that 9/11 did happen five years ago and we still haven't rebuilt in the city — you know, it takes a long time to rebuild. What's a realistic expectation for New Orleans? How long should this actually take?

GALEN: Well, how long it should take is a matter of when you start. I mean, it's going to take x number of years, days, months and years. But at some point, you've got to say, "OK, we've started."

Clearly, if you go downtown, something has started. Have they finally gotten together on the design of what the new area is going to look like? There are a significant amount of tugging and pulling amongst the people who truly did have an emotional attachment to what was going to go in there.

But in New Orleans, I've been down there several — I was in New Orleans from, I think, Tuesday or Wednesday after the storm for five days. I was living in a bus. And then I was there about four months later, and then a year later almost, and it looks the same. There doesn't look like there's anything going on.

POWERS: Larry, is that what you're seeing? Nothing's happening?

ELDER: Well, things are happening. As the mayor said in that piece, at one time, you couldn't even get cars through, and debris has been cleared away.

But, Kirsten, I want to follow up on something you said about the role of the government. The role of the government is to protect people and property; that's sure. But in 1906, when San Francisco was flattened with an earthquake, it was rebuilt almost completely with private funds.

1871, there was a fire in Chicago, almost completely rebuilt with private fund. 1900, the hurricane in Galveston, almost completely rebuilt with private funds. This mayor needs to have private funds and outside investors. And by remarks like this, he's alienating the very people that he needs to have to support his city.

HANNITY: Thank you, Larry. Thank you, Rich. Appreciate you both being with us.

ELDER: My pleasure. All right.

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Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2006 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. (www.voxant.com), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, LLC'S and Voxant, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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